HOW WE STARTED
It wasn’t a conscious decision to start a business and just a few years ago I would have never have guessed I’d have a jewellery line! But fate, in the form of severe sickness, stepped in.
In 2013 I moved to Africa to pursue my dream of making wildlife documentaries after working for 10 years as a photographer in my home country of Australia.
I grew up dreaming of Africa, watching countless documentaries and dreaming of wild places and animals. When I first arrived in South Africa, camera gear in hand, after selling everything I owned, all I had was a dream and a few thousand in savings.
I left a solid career, financial stability and the safety of home to move to a country I'd never been to before. While I didn't have a network or even a body of work that represented Africa or its animals yet, I was full of excitement and the attitude that I would do what it takes to make my dream come true. So, after working for a decade as a paid photographer, I went back to working for free as I tried to gain experience and a network of contacts in Africa and around the world.
I worked in many remote regions of the continent, sometimes with access to only basic food and, after 3 years, worked myself to exhaustion, as I tried to make a name for myself in this new environment.
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.
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!
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.