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The YB Response to PETA

by Yara Bashoor |

You can kiss my American alligator tote....

I have given a lot of thought to PETA.  I respect always people's choices, and honest debate is crucial to our society.

However, in order to garner attention and outrage, PETA spins their story in an unfair manner by taking certain facts out of context and highlighting what supports their argument without presenting the entire picture, much like politicians.

I agree that there are many animals that should not be killed for recreation or for consumption.  I also support very much the conservation of our environment.

Naturally, any animal that is commercially consumed is slaughtered.  Throughout history, man has killed animals for food, for clothing and for shelter.  That is the circle of life.  Those in the know-how have also learned how to humanely end the life of such an animal to be used for consumption.  Most of us live far away from slaughter houses, and we don't frequent butcher shops as we buy meats neatly packaged in our clean supermarkets.  Therefore, we are taken aback to see, for example, how a cow is killed and processed.  However, we do not hesitate to eat that juicy barbecued burger on any given day.

Below is my email in response to PETA's asking me to stop the essence of my business which is making quality, life-lasting handbags made of South African ostrich and American alligator not to mention lambskin.



Dear Ms. Sewell,

I usually respect the choices of people and their belief systems, but I do not agree with the erroneous assumptions and arguments brought forth by your PETA email against the use of alligator and ostrich.

I only use three materials for my products:  South African ostrich, American alligator and lambskin.  The meats of all three animals are consumed commercially.   Ostrich is a big bird, and its meat is popular in South Africa and I look forward to eating it.  I have eaten American alligator meat, and it is a popular food that is very much a part of the Southern heritage of the United States.  I feel bad about lambskin because it is the only mammal consumed in my business.  I will consider getting rid of lambskin (which you don’t bring up) in my products even though I do once in a while love to eat a good lamb chop.  I don’t use any skins where the meats are not eaten commercially like say python or mink.  Please note that I do not use cowhide. 

I believe in the cycle of life and how all the parts of the animals I use in my fashion are consumed.   My products last a life time because they are made with exceptional craftsmanship (thereby respecting the materials used), and they are not disposal like many vegan products that don’t last, that are still harmful to the environment and that generate a lot of waste.

PETA would do best in campaigning against the ubiquitous consumption of cows which are farmed in horrendous conditions and seriously damaging the environment rather than questioning a small business that is doing everything ethically and responsibly on a small scale.

What is most upsetting about PETA is the outrageous manner in which it goes after “luxury” businesses.  Yes, I believe it is unconscionable to sell something for like $40,000 that was once part of an animal and to display it as wealth and power.  But is eating a $5 hamburger really any better?  Why haven’t you protested in front of McDonald’s?  How many of your 6.5 million followers actually do eat meat?  I am guessing quite a large number of them.  Have all these members signed some pledge to avoid eating meat and avoid using any and all animal products?  What happens if they cheat on their pledge and consume meat?

Please do not preach high morals when there is a great deal of hypocrisy in your fanatical religious-like campaigns against companies like mine. 

There are a lot of issues in this world, and perhaps fighting the destructive rape of the Amazon jungle would be better served as a way of animal conservation. Controlled consumption of certain wild animals is an incentive to protect their environment, and this is especially true of the wild American alligator.  Also, what about fighting the corrupt sugar industry that is polluting the lakes and waterways of my beloved Florida and causing the death of a lot of beautiful wildlife?  In Florida, it is our experienced fishermen who tend to be the most ardent protectors of the environment and its wildlife.

I lament that so many people follow PETA blindly and are not completely educated on all the issues that arise from the consumption of all kinds of products that affect our society and mother earth.  I am not interested in vegan products and find them to be cheap-like, disposable and aimed to create even more consumerism.  They are not a solution.  These materials are just one more spin on trying to be marketable, different and fashionable at the cost of those of use who are indeed responsible in our decision making process.

I am not interested in talking with you.


Yara Bashoor



Dear Ms. Bashoor,



My name is Sienna and I’m a fashion campaigner at the largest and most effective animal rights organization in the world, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). It’s a pleasure to make your e-acquaintance.


I’m reaching out today to urge you to drop ostrich and alligator skin in favor of sustainable, vegan materials. Below and attached you’ll find a letter from PETA’s Fashion Campaigns Manager, Christina Sewell, regarding this important matter.


I would be happy to put you in touch with her to speak at further length about this issue. Please let me know your availability for a quick phone call this week.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.




 July 9, 2018


Dear Ms. Bashoor,


I'm writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide because, while we admire your colorful handbag designs, we're disappointed to see that your accessories are made exclusively with ostrich and alligator skin. We urge you to stop sellingexotic-animal hides and to opt for luxurious cruelty-free materials instead.

PETA has exposed horrific cruelty on farms in South Africa and the United States—areas from which your brand exclusively sources skins—where tens of thousands of ostriches, alligators, and crocodiles are violently slaughtered every year. Alligators raised in the United States are kept in fetid water inside dark sheds without sunshine, fresh air, clean water, or even basic medical care. At just 1 year old, they're shot with a captive-bolt gun or crudely cut into while they're still fully conscious and able to feel pain. And as you can see in this video, in South Africa, young ostriches are tightly packed into vehicles and sent to the slaughterhouse, where they're forcibly restrained and electrically stunned and their throats are cut. 

The good news is that there's no need to use the skins of ostriches, alligators, or any other animals in the fashion industry: Cruelty-free alternatives are high-end, beautiful, and widely accessible, and they're made from a variety of materials, including recycled plastic bottles, sustainable polyurethane, and even plants such as mushrooms and fruit. That's why major international brands—including Stella McCartney, Hugo Boss, and Adolfo Domínguez—refuse to use exotic-animal skins.

We hope you'll agree to help women feel great—both inside and out—by dropping ostrich and alligator skins in favor of sustainable vegan materials. I'd be happy to discuss this important subject with you and share PETA's extensive materials portfolio at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,



Christina Sewell


Manager, Fashion Campaigns





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