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Why I Started WILD IN AFRICA

To celebrate National Business Women’s Week (Oct 17-21), I thought it was the perfect opportunity to tell you about how Wild In Africa came to be ...

It wasn’t actually a conscious decision to start a business and just a few years ago I would have never guessed I’d have a jewellery line! But fate, in the form of severe sickness, stepped in.

... I was found unconscious on a dirt path in the Masai Mara, in an area frequented by lions.

Photo: Shannon Wild

At 15 years old I suffered a severe bout of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and have struggled with my health ever since, including chronic fatigue and a very weakened immune system which plagued me with illness over the last 25 years.

In 2013 I moved to Africa to pursue my dream of making wildlife documentaries. I worked in many remote regions of the continent, sometimes with access to only basic food and, in the beginning, working myself to exhaustion, usually for free, as I tried to make a name for myself.

 

I continued to push my body beyond its limits to pursue my dreams (and just as I was really establishing myself), my poor body finally failed me and I was found unconscious on a dirt path in the Masai Mara, in an area frequented by lions. No-one knows how long I was laying there, but it was long enough for the gravel to be firmly embedded in my face. I was medivac’d to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi where I was hospitalised.

Shannon after she collapsed in the Masai Mara, Kenya from exhaustion. Photos: Russell Maclaughlin

I was skeletal and close enough to death that I didn’t have the energy to even care anymore.

The next 3 months I was bedridden while my frail body tried to heal. I was skeletal and close enough to death that I didn’t have the energy to even care anymore. My angel of a mother jumped on a plane from Australia and stayed by my side for the next month while I slept all day. Eventually, after 3 months I was out of bed most days and my mental clarity had returned. I was frustrated that my body could not yet keep up with my motivation. I couldn’t even hold a camera and certainly didn’t have enough stamina to be out in the field (that would take another 3 months along with a very slow reintroduction).

This frustration pushed me to find a creative outlet other than filming and photography until I was properly back on my feet. So, I dismantled some of my beaded bracelets that I’d collected over the years on my travels and redesigned them.

I was hooked.

Soon, I was sourcing beads from all over the world and creating different styles and selling them on Etsy. I was surprised at the reception they received and soon I was making regular sales.

My past as a graphic designer (9 years and a whole other life and story) meant I had an understanding and appreciation for marketing. Before I knew it Wild In Africa - Bracelets for Wildlife was born, registered and open for business!

Photo: Shannon Wild

I knew early on that if I was going to make money selling these bracelets then I wanted to give back to wildlife conservation and more specifically, organizations that I had personally worked with in the field and witnessed make a positive difference for animals in need.

Animals, my main passion, have given my life so much happiness and meaning. It’s the least I could do and that’s why I wanted my charity bracelets to give an amount that truly signified my commitment - 50% of the purchase price.

If people are going to buy bracelets because they want to support conservation then I was going to be very clear about exactly how much of what they’re spending is being given. It’s that simple.

That was May 2017, and I can hardly believe how we’ve grown. More importantly, I’m so incredibly excited about the future and how we can give back to wildlife conservation in a real and meaningful way, together.

Stay Wild,

 

 

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