Alicia Lai is the founder & designer behind vegan footwear label, Bourgeois Boheme. Created in 2005, ex-podiatrist and long-time vegan, Alicia intertwined her foot care expertise with her love for shoes to create the animal-free classic styles she was struggling to find.

Ethical and sustainable values are at the heart of the brand, where Alicia personally ensures that each piece is ethically made, using the best innovative, eco-friendly and vegan materials, by their hand-picked artisans in Portugal. Champions of slow fashion we are thrilled to welcome Alicia to the LDC panel in our upcoming Mindful Makers: Presentations & Networking evening on 19th June at WeWork Waterhouse square. We sat down with Alicia before the event to find out a little more about her brand, inspirations and advice for budding entrepreneurs...

Tell us a little about your brand, and your ethical/ sustainable values

It was a desire to show that there was a better way to produce fashion for the environment, factory workers and animals. As a sustainable and vegan company this extended to showing the best alternatives to animal derived materials as well as keeping true to our ethics of doing things more sustainably and fair.  Our motto has always been that a good vegan shoe is not just about excluding animal materials, but also being pioneers of new innovative materials which sets Bourgeois Boheme apart from other brands.  We utilise pineapple leaf fibre material Pinatex, cork, EcoStone, Bio-polyoils for our linings and recycled materials.  We are trialling a couple more new materials for SS19.

How do you see the industry changing in terms of ethical and sustainable considerations?

Within the sustainable and ethical fashion circles, I can definitely see an increased in the number of brands that are producing more ethically and sustainably.  Unfortunately in mainstream fashion this is not the case, except for Stella McCartney.   I feel that the push needs to come from legislation. Fashion Revolution Week is gaining more momentum but unfortunately there is a long way to go.  It is us little guys that are trying to do our best but are so very often outlooked.  There are very interesting progress in the development of innovative fabrics, including lab-grown leather.   

Why have you chosen to partner with LDC?

We chose to partner with LDC as they champion small businesses and support us in networking and marketing ourselves.  They are professional and their events are always very well run.

What advice would you give people who are thinking about starting their own business?

I would say go for it! It is not easy and there are many challenges, my main tips to overcome them:

  • Take your time and do not rush.
  • Identify what you are good at and enjoy doing in the business
  • Delegate the tasks you do not like or not good at so you can concentrate on what you love to do
  • Network
  • There are many options for business advice too, utilise them
  • Remember you are running a business, not a hobby!
  • Ensure you take time out to enjoy your family and friends.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?

I am a Podiatrist by profession and completed a Master in Public Health with the view to work with an NGO in child and maternal health.  If I was not running Bourgeois Boheme, that’s what I would love to do!


Meet LDC designer, Alicia, in person at our Mindful Makers event on 19th June, and hear her speak on our panel about everything sustainability! Register for tickets by clicking here.

Check out Bourgeois Boheme footwear at:

Or follow them on instagram @boboheme




1 comment

  • Edson Campos da cruz

    Hello, good afternoon, Mrs. Alicia!

        They’ll be watching the Futurar program and I was delighted with their pineapple leaf projects.

        Shoes and bags.

        I would like to talk about it and if we can make a partnership here in Brazil, capital of Minas Gerais – Belo Horizonte?

       I am grateful for the contact!

       At: Edson Campos

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