We Found the Most Stylish Vegan Vacation Shoes and Interviewed the Designer

|Updated Jan 31, 2020

As dreams of escaping to tropical islands occupy our thoughts these days, we went in search of the most stylish vegan shoes to take on vacation. Then we loved them so much we decided to interview the designer.

Anyone planning a warm-weather getaway can appreciate the challenge of stylish footwear that is well-made, vegan, comfortable and will get you in the mood to dance on the beach. Launched in May of 2018, Mesa Shoes, an independent footwear brand made in Los Angeles, is here to change all that. Founded by designer and stylist Megan Stacy, Mesa Shoes are sustainable, leather-free and made in LA in small batches with recycled material.

The Beet caught up with Megan to learn a little more about the inspiration behind Mesa and where she sees the future of sustainable fashion heading.

Mesa's Signature Hand-Carved Mule Mesa's Signature Hand-Carved Mule

Q: Why did you set out to create a vegan shoe brand?

A: I wanted to create a small-batch line of beautiful, unique shoes that had two key things going for them: Zero materials made from animal products and they had to be made in the  USA. Some of our materials are also made from recycled products and we are always looking for innovative and sustainable materials to bring into the line. As the fashion industry moves toward more sustainable options, I wanted to create shoes that support ethical practices while still being fashionable, luxe, and special.

Q: Can you guide us through the production process, from design to shipping?

A: I scouted and sampled textiles from all over the world during the design process, it was really fun to see all of the possibilities. Ultimately the fabrication selection came down to the combination of softness and flexibility, durability, colorful options and, for some fabrics, the added bonus of being made from recycled materials. The heels are made of hand-carved reclaimed wood. I spent many months sketching, sampling and researching until I was ready to begin the prototyping process.

We work with a small team in Los Angeles to manufacture each piece, including our hand-carved heels. Having our shoes made in the US is challenging because it is more expensive than outsourcing abroad, but we believe in supporting US production and jobs, as well as fair wages and excellent working conditions. I love to visit our factory and meet and speak with the incredible artisans who help bring Mesa to life. The heals are made of hand-carved reclaimed wood.

Q: Are you personally vegan, vegetarian or plant-based? Why? Tell us about your journey.

A: I have been a vegetarian since the age of 12, and my mom is pescatarian, so I’ve never had beef or pork in my life. Most people can’t believe that’s possible, but trust me it is! My natural inclination was to move away from eating any meat even before I had an understanding of the environmental implications. There are so many delicious options that don’t involve killing an animal, I hope more people will continue to move in that direction and be open to change.

Q: What are your favorite go-to snacks and what would you say to others who are curious about adopting this lifestyle?

A: One of my absolute favorite dishes is a Mushroom/Nut Loaf that my mom and I make every Thanksgiving. It’s like a meatloaf but made of porcini mushrooms, brown rice, cashews, herbs and spices- it is mouthwatering and I’ve converted a lot of meat-eaters to the joys of Nut Loaf! Especially when topped with wild mushroom gravy. (The Beet found a vegan one here.)

Q: You also still work as a stylist. Do you use exclusively vegan brands in your styling? What are some of your favorite vegan/sustainable brands?

A: The company I work for does not use any leather products, and when I do other styling work I choose pieces that are animal-free. I love Samara because they make really luxe vegan bags and Hiraeth Collective has gorgeous dresses and separates that I have been coveting since they launched last year.

A: Where do you see the future of sustainable fashion heading?

A: The environmental and ethical implications of fast fashion can only be advanced if there are desirable sustainable options in the marketplace. I hope to see more established brands reevaluating their practices to promote change.The more we can support these brands the more we will see ethical and sustainable options at the forefront of fashion.

Q: What’s next to come for Mesa? Will you be expanding your shoe line?

A: We just launched and are super tiny right now, spreading the Mesa love one day at a time.  It’s tough to start from the ground up but the more support we get from our like-minded community will only allow us to expand. Hoping to have some fresh styles for Spring/Summer next year!

Q: Do you have a mantra that guides your day-to-day?

A: Go big AND go home: Basically work hard, be ambitious, aim high. But also, be patient, take time to relax, and keep it all balanced.

Have a favorite vegan designer or brand? Send us your favorites at newstip@thebeet.com