We sat down with Louisa Sánchez, CEO of THE RICE SOCIETY, a wonderful “PETA-Approved Vegan” brand that makes “leather” footwear from rice—now, that’s nice (for animals, that is).
OK, first things first. Why rice?
Because we love rice—not only on our plate. But in all seriousness, we chose rice as our material for its unique properties. The journey of every RICE shoe begins at a paella rice plantation near Elche, Spain, just a stone’s throw from our production site. It’s important to note that we’re not interested in the grains that end up in your paella. Instead, our focus is on the chaff—the outer husk of the rice grain often overlooked during milling.
This unconventional choice has a purpose: to reduce waste, support local farmers, and strengthen the local value chain. Rice’s lightweight, breathable, and naturally moisture-wicking properties make it an ideal material for creating comfortable and eco-friendly footwear. It’s our way of making a sustainable impact on the world of fashion.
Why did you decide to start a vegan company?
We truly love animals. It was a no-brainer for us to create our RICE sneaker without harming any animals in the process. Not using any animal components in our production chain was
clear for us from the start.
What do you think is the next biggest trend in vegan fashion?
I’m excited about the direction that vegan fashion is taking. Not only are people looking for cruelty-free options, they also want products that are kind to animals and the planet. We’re involved in the development of vegan footwear products every day, and the demand for vegan materials is increasing, therefore leading to these new trends.
At the forefront of vegan leathers are materials like mushrooms, apple peels, pineapples, and corn. We’re also seeing a resurgence of vintage and secondhand vegan fashion. This is a sustainable choice that many young people, including myself, are embracing.
It’s an exciting time for the vegan fashion industry, and we look forward to staying at the forefront of these trends as we continue to push boundaries and innovate in the world of vegan footwear.
Which of your products are you most excited to share with others?
We offer only one product, the OPEN21. We’re often asked why we have only one model, and this is a conscious decision that we made. Sustainability starts with the product offering. We’ve worked extensively on the composition of recycled and vegan materials and created a fantastic, timeless shoe that can be paired with any outfit. We release new color combinations twice a year, and there may be a few more additions in the future. With maintaining a smaller product portfolio, we want to avoid overproduction and the ongoing cycle of discounts.
How have your customers embraced the “PETA-Approved Vegan” logo?
On social media, we get great feedback from our customers since we have the “PETA-Approved Vegan” logo. Our community is really thankful that we at RICE are standing up for the right values—their values. Getting an established and well-known worldwide certification proving that no animal suffers for our shoes makes customers trust us even more.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a vegan company?
Knowledge is key. Educate yourself thoroughly on the vegan lifestyle before starting your company. Since vegan companies are still in the minority, educating yourself and your customers is a crucial component for creating lasting change in society. And because it’s a good cause, people will follow you. Identify a vegan niche or product category to target. Seek out ethical and sustainable sources for your materials and ingredients. Invest time in product development to ensure quality, taste, and performance. Be transparent about your vegan and ethical practices. Ensure that your products meet vegan certification standards, such as PETA’s, and comply with all legal requirements.
As we say here at RICE: Wear your values for the world to see.