“The fashion industry is up there with one of the worst industries when it comes to animal cruelty,” Monique Medved says. It’s the reason the Melbourne local co-founded the world’s first vegan watch brand Time IV Change with boyfriend Marko Stevanja.
After launching a successful Kickstarter campaign in March last year to fund the launch collection of their classically designed watches (made with recycled aluminium cases which Monique says, “takes 90 per cent less energy to produce than stainless steel” and vegan leather bands, made of recycled plastic bottles and microfiber bundles or pineapple leaf fibres), Time IV Change has been garnering support around the world. The young duo has even caught the attention of famed vegan film director Kip Andersen of Cowspiracy.
“He’s bringing out a film about the fashion industry and we’re actually going to be featured in that film as well,” the 22-year-old says.
The recognition from Anderson is fitting considering it was his film, and footage from undercover PETA investigations, that led Monique to follow Marko’s lead and become vegan two years ago. She says it opened her eyes to “what was happening just by a lifestyle choice that I was making”.
“It was seeing a lot of those gruesome videos, about what happens at animal farms and stuff like that, the things you kind of turn a blind eye to,” Monique says of her decision to go vegan. “I was sort of going, ‘This is actually happening. I’m not going to just sit here and partake in this level of cruelty.’”
Monique and Marko eventually came up with the idea for the watches after seeing a gap in the market for a good, vegan alternative for people who wanted the same look and feel as leather, minus the cruelty.
“[To make leather] the majority of animals are slaughtered while they’re still alive for their skin. They tend to be skinned alive, and also burned alive, which is just unnecessary, because in this day and age, there are so many alternatives that there’s no need for genuine leather anymore,” Monique says.
Time IV Change also supports animal rights organisations by donating 20 per cent of profits of each watch sold. So far, they’ve donated $10,500, which is halfway to their $20K goal by the end of the year. “For a startup, that’s a lot of money to initially give away,” Monique admits. “But, at the same time, that was always a part of the business plan, and it’s something we always wanted to do. It feels good at the end of the day. And we know our money’s gone to a better cause than in our pockets.”
As for what it’s like working so closely with her boyfriend of seven years? Monique says, “We’ve got a good work-relationship balance. I tend to be the one that gets super excited about everything and just wants to do everything. Whereas he is kind of the reasonable and rational one who’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s great, but how are we going to do that?’ Or he kind of brings it back down to earth.
“We push each other in a good way. We always want the other to succeed in what we’re doing in both work and our relationship.”
With all their success, they’re constantly looking to expand their offering and have recently launched another Kickstarter campaign to produce new 36mm case watches. They’re also searching for new and better ways to offer vegan-friendly and ethical products.
“I think it’s really exciting, what’s coming out in the near future… the possibilities are going to be endless,” Monique says. “We’ve been in touch with a company that produces leather from wine! The by-products of wine have created these deep, rich, red leather-like materials that are made in Italy.”
“We’ve always wanted to be the first in the world to do these kinds of things, like we were first in the world to create the Pinatex watch band, which is made from pineapple leaf fibres,” Monique says. “Our goal in the future is to always remain ahead of the game.”