When the film Free Willy hit theaters in 1993, it quickly became one of my favorites. Long story short, the movie is about a bond between an Orca whale who was forcibly taken from his family, and a foster kid who’s having a hard time. The most thrilling part of the movie is when the whale jumps over an impossibly high barrier to freedom. Watching it as a child brought me so much joy, as well as a fondness for Orca whales that lasts to this day. I’ll never forget my dad getting me a stuffed toy Orca—one of my most treasured toys as a child—which may or may not still be stowed away in my closet somewhere…
Free Willy—I believe—stated something that kids innately know; animals are wondrous creations, and as humans we have a responsibility to protect them. As adults, our schedules are crowded with so many other things that it’s easy for the animals that enchanted us in our youth to be forgotten.
One company that is making sure that doesn’t happen is Big Wild Thought. Born and bred in Sheffield, England; they make beautifully embroidered items—with 10% of the proceeds going to a charity benefitting that specific animal. Get a cup of tea and read on as I introduce you to co-founder Laura Bowling, as she tells me about her wonderful company!
I’d love to know more about the genesis of your company! Tell me how Big Wild Thought got started.
Me and my partner (Liam) both have backgrounds in design, and I have always wanted my own clothing line but wanted it to be different from everything else that is out there at the minute. We both have a passion for wildlife and the outdoors and thought while we were putting the business plan together, we would combine the two passions and produce a range that you can ‘Wear and Care.’ There are so many wonderful animal charities out there doing so many amazing projects for endangered and vulnerable wildlife; we wanted to help in any way we could. Regarding the plastic-free packaging—while we were planning the clothing range, we were lucky enough to be up visiting family in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland last year. When we were on the beautiful beaches, we stumbled across so much plastic waste than had been washed up that it made us realise that even in the most remote parts of the world; plastic waste is everywhere. From this, we came to decide that we didn’t want to be a part of this problem and that we would use recyclable packaging.
How do you go about deciding which animals/charities to highlight?
The range started out with three animal designs, an ORCA, a SLOTH and a BUTTERFLY and we chose these because they are personally our favourite animals (I’m slightly obsessed with ORCAs.) And from there we had some other charities contact us wanting to get involved. That’s how we expanded and now are selling 7 animal designs. We wish we could help every animal. There are so many charities out there that need help too!! We do aim to release an animal design for every single animal that is out there—that’s the dream!
What are some ways people can help endangered animals besides buying your cozy merchandise?
There are plenty of ways to help! On our website we have a charities page, which list the charities we support and weblinks to their websites! The charities we work with organise a lot of events for everyone to get involved in. For example, the WDC organises beach clean ups at local beaches across the UK which all the family can get involved it! Also, as bees are declining rapidly, we always advise people to plant as many wildflowers as possible in their gardens. You can buy some Wildflower Seeds off the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website as well as bee posters and books! These are just a couple of ways you can help, but head over to the charities websites and see what else is happening in your local area!
Any advice to others who wish to start a company that gives back?
Make sure that the charities or trusts you decide to work with share the same views as you. This makes you work harder because it’s something you both feel passionate about!
Anything new and exciting coming up that your patrons can look forward to?
We will be releasing some very popular African animal designs soon, and the 10% donation is going to a special UK charity. Additionally, we have been getting a lot of requests for a Shark range, which we have been working with an amazing trust and that should be available later in the year! Also, we will be launching new products this year—from stationary to rucksacks!
Big Wild Thought makes shirts and sweatshirts you can happily wear, knowing they make a fashionable difference for animals in need. It’s almost like taking your stuffed Orca toy with you! 😉 Get yours today!
Order your Big Wild Thought merchandise here: https://www.bigwildthought.co.uk
Keep up with my work by following me on Instagram and Twitter as @missjennifermcd!