How This Mother-Daughter Duo is Working to Create a “No-Harm” World
Kim Bohstedt and Diane Mantel co-founded Upbeet + Rooted, a vegan marketplace, with a core mission in mind: Empower a "no-harm" world. Through their marketplace, the mother-daughter team (Bohstedt is Mantel’s daughter) promotes products from small businesses across the country that support cruelty-free consumption.
After its first pop-up in August 2019, Upbeet + Rooted hosted four more pop-up markets every couple of months or so (two in Chicago, one in Orlando, and one in Sarasota). Then, when the pandemic hit, they had to cancel the rest of their events scheduled for the remainder of 2020—but their mission is far from over.
The founders decided to go virtual, so they can continue their work helping consumers discover the cruelty-free brands they love and trust. Upbeet + Rooted’s virtual marketplace is set to launch in January, offering a lineup of rotating product collections for each season.
In this interview with The Beet, Bohstedt and Mantel talk about becoming vegan, their work launching Upbeet + Rooted, and how they managed to shift gears during the pandemic.
The Beet: Can you both describe your vegan journeys?
Diane Mantel: I began my vegan journey as a vegetarian about 25 years ago, still consuming some dairy, mostly cheese as I never really liked milk! I happened to read about the dairy industry and how cruel that industry is. My heart just broke…taking calves away from their mothers and keeping the cows in a perpetual state of lactating was all I needed to read. I was done forever with dairy.
That was the beginning of my vegan journey, and I have traveled this path for the last 10 years! My journey and Kim’s journey are very similar. We have always felt that animal advocacy is first and foremost.
Kim Bohstedt: I grew up being obsessed with animals, and still am, but as a kid, I just never put two and two together that the meat I was eating was an actual animal. I just never really thought about in those simple terms. How could I say I loved animals, but still ate them? I also fell prey to the protein misconception. I thought I HAD to eat meat/eggs to get enough protein in my diet. I remember in 1999 I was driving home on the highway and I was behind a truck transporting cows to slaughter—I was devastated, sick, distraught. I had to pull over and regroup but from that moment on, I didn’t eat meat.
After I gave up meat, I was still struggling to give up cheese. I had a close friend who was vegan tell me if I knew the process of getting dairy cheese, I would be horrified. Of course, I had to know what she was talking about and she was right. I was horrified and heartbroken from what I found out about the dairy industry. How they take babies away from their mothers, who are heartbroken and cry for their babies. There are so many other horrifying facts I found that literally made me sick. From that moment on, I went completely vegan, and that was 10 years ago.
For me, my mom’s journey to veganism was around the time I started to eliminate dairy but I still would eat cheese. Seeing her go completely vegan was definitely influential.
TB: What inspired you to start Upbeet + Rooted?
DM: I wanted to start Upbeet + Rooted so that I could work with my daughter, get out of the design industry, and give back to the universe and help save the animals while building an amazing community of like-minded humans.
KB: I wanted to start U+R to bring awareness to the vegan movement and how being vegan saves so many animals, work with my mom, support small businesses (a lot of which are female-founded), and bring the community together.
TB: How has it been having to shift your business online due to the pandemic?
It has happened very organically, actually. We are really so grateful for the magical community around us. We talked through many possible ideas, and we listened to the feedback from our audience/followers/brands, and decided to move to a platform that promotes and markets No Harm brands we believe in.
Initially, we wanted to open a brick-and-mortar, No Harm pop-up shop where we could showcase brands we loved and believed in. We still aspire to do this when we know it is a safe and responsible thing to do. We want to travel to different cities and host these pop-up markets, bringing the community together and getting to know the city and the vegan movement in each town.
Seeing products in person is so fun and super exciting and there isn’t really a replacement for that…but given the current COVID crises, we have decided to put our energy into trying to convey this same excitement we have for our beloved brands through social media/web.
TB: How do you choose what vendors to support and showcase?
We are huge on energy. When we find a brand or are approached by a brand, we make sure we align in our missions as well as energetically. Our platform is a community-driven space—we want to make sure everyone connects well.
We are typically drawn to brands that are playful, colorful, have a great mission, and taste/feel good! We don’t promote anything we don’t personally believe in. We make sure to try everything before we invite the brand to participate in a season.
TB: How do you think Upbeet + Rooted will change or stay the same now that it’s going virtual?
With our platform being virtual, we hope to connect with more amazing No Harm brands and work together to build the Upbeet community! We can’t wait to see what manifests with our new online concept!