I was introduced to the alluring Margaret Ellis through a mutual friend at an event and recalled thinking, “This woman has a compelling story. I just know it.” I’m no Ms. Cleo, nor do I regularly attempt to look into a crystal ball to see what the future holds, but... I just knew. I was well aware of Margaret's flourishing jewelry business of 28 years. Margaret Ellis Studio boasts both a wholesale division and a thriving retail location in Nashville's chic and historic Cummins Station building. What I didn't know is Margaret is a loud and very proud animal rights activist who chose the veg-life in 1967 and hasn’t looked back since. I recently had the fabulous experience of enjoying a delicious vegan meal at her home with her still smitten husband and business partner of over 30 years, Fred, and the one and only Pinky!
Here’s my interview and the reason why Margaret is my special Valentine:
SLYGAD: Share your story on what motivated you to choose a vegan lifestyle. What hurdles did you face since you chose to do this before it was really supported by businesses and consumers?
Margaret: I became a vegetarian in 1967--before almost anyone (especially in Nashville) was into it. I was strictly motivated by animal issues. I just decided that if I couldn't kill it, I had no business eating it. The hurdle has always been just finding something to eat, especially in restaurants. I had a whole lot of salads and baked potatoes. During the time between 1967 and 2008, I went through a few periods where I broke down and ate fish. That always bothered me, so I made a decision to never do that again after visiting a market and seeing live fish crowded into a tank. It really disturbed me. I became vegan in 2009, and feel it is a permanent change. I just realized that dairy is bad for me and presents a very unhappy situation for the animals involved.
SLYGAD: How has animal rights changed your life and how has it inspired your work?
Margaret: I have been into this for so long I don't know how it has changed my life, I think it has just been my life. I'm not sure how it has inspired my work. I think that compassion inspires everything that a person does.
SLYGAD: Who are some of your style muses?
Margaret: Madonna is a huge favorite of mine.
SLYGAD: I don’t challenge that choice at all, especially after that Super Bowl performance. What current trends bring you glee? Make you shudder?
Margaret: I absolutely hate fur. It makes me very unhappy to see someone wearing it. However, I am into Rodarte.
SLYGAD: Even us ladies in the fashion industry love to nosh, what are some dining establishments and foods that are worth each and every calorie?
To check out Margaret's beautiful collection, stop by her Cummins Station store or shop online.
Before I sign off, I must wish my tiny Valentine and muse for becoming an animal activist, Chico, a very Happy 12th Birthday! I adopted him from the Humane Association nine years ago and my life has been full of joy and unconditional love ever since. Remember to show compassion and love to your furry friends on Tuesday.
See you all next Sustainable Sunday!
Photo by Ashley Hylbert Photography.