In the chaos of my life, between raising one (almost) toddler, taking care of the house and getting back to work with a new choice (dedicating all my journalist and content manager experience to manage my own website) my head doesn’t stop thinking about new ideas and projects. I don’t remember the exactly moment I thought about the Vegan Package Swap but I know I fell in love with the idea since the beginning because for me it was just giving other vegans the chance to experience something I’ve been doing for years: swapping packages full of vegan goodies with friends from different parts of the world. In March the first edition happened and this month we are celebrating its sixth edition!
After some research I found out that there were already three existent vegan package swap projects (UK, US and Canada). All three local and focused on food. What could we offer that would make my project different? First decision was to make it world wide and second one was to include the possibility of including non-vegan goodies in the package. After the basics concepts were decided, it was time to start working on the most hard part: the on line system that would make it work automatically. And here comes the work of my partner in crime, responsible for everything web related in the website: my husband, a.k.a. our web dev. People who work building websites and systems will know how much work is involved in every single project, including small ones. Today, six months later, Vegan Package Swap (VPS) system and website is still a work in progress.
Let’s get back in time a little bit. In February 2013 the Vegan Package Swap page, hosted here at All About Vegan Food website, was created. With no budget to spend in the project, I took the decision to email everyone I know, from bloggers to vegan companies, and also people and companies I don’t know, telling them about the project. Just like that we’ve got some publicity on bloggers and got people talking about our international Vegan Package Swap and its first edition, to take place in March 2013. To be honest we didn’t know what to expect. At all. I remember me and my husband betting about how many subscribers the project would have in its first month and our numbers weren’t more than 50. We had more than 200 people registered in the website and almost 100 taking part in the first edition. Amazing, isn’t it? Pretty much. But you can also imagine how many bugs we had back there. It happens in all projects and online system and it had to happen to us. But even with all the issues, the overall feedback was very positive and most of the swappers took part in the second edition and new subscribers kept coming.
In these six months we improved the system, where swappers can do everything in the website (join the swap each month they want to participate, see pair’s details, communicate with pair, rate the swap). We are working to make profiles more complete and we want to make the website a community to all swappers in the future. We’ve created a “Swap Gallery” page in the website to show the world how excited it is to open that box every month (or even a few months in the year if you can’t afford more!) and to show vegan brands and companies how easy it is to make their products travel the world and to get new consumers. We’ve got amazing companies to donate prizes to our monthly giveaways, exclusive to our swappers, to give them one extra reason to participate. A special THANKS here to Hannah Banana Bakery, Earth Balance, Moo Free Chocolates, Vegan Cuts, Natural Balance Foods, Cinnaholic, Vegan Cakes, Vx, Hannah Kaminsky & Skyhorse Publishing, Veg Veg Emporio, Goody Good Stuff, Hurraw! Lip Balms and Veggie Life Store.
We’ve sent and received amazing packages because, yes, we take part in the VPS every month too! We’ve created a Facebook page where swappers can share pictures, experiences and communicate with us and between themselves. We’ve experienced just a few issues, mostly with packages not arriving, which unfortunately we can do almost nothing about it but keep hoping that post services around the world will get better and offer better rates.
In only six months we have received the most amazing emails and comments ever. We’ve got support from people and vegan or vegan-friendly companies from different parts of the world. We saw people spreading the word about our project in blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter and Instagram. Just because they love it. We know there is still a lot to do and we also know that we MUST trust people in a project like this. We have to believe that vegan people or people interested in veganism won’t take advance of other vegan people. So far this is happening and we have to keep the faith in people to keep this project alive and growing.
Today, with AUGUST edition about to take place, we have just one thing to say: THANK YOU ALL, from the bottom of our hearts, for joining us in this adventure, for believing in our idea and project, for being so kind to us. We are just a vegan family working hard to make veganism and the vegan diet more visible and accessible. And, why not, a way to bring join and fun to vegans around the world?