Here we are again to introduce another outstanding brand. This time we are going to talk to Lizzie Barker, the owner of Creature Candy, a British homeware and gifts company that raises awareness of declining and protected wildlife. The brand is tackling the misconception of people about species like bats, for example.
You can read my interview with Lizzie now to feel inspired by Creature Candy’s gorgeous pieces, and also take active action in conservation because 10% of the sales of any product sold goes to 11 different British wildlife charities and one children’s charity.
Midlands Traveller: Tell me a little a bit about your background in business.
Lizzie Barker: My business background is actually very limited. I did an HND business studies course way back in 1999, of which I remember very little.
I think you can say I’m entirely self-taught! I’ve just picked up things along the way, completed short training sessions (on marketing, finance etc) and various online webinars. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by some very successful business people, so the advice is always at hand.
MT: How did you come up with the idea of a business like yours?
LB: I used to work as an ecologist but in 2014 I started to feel like I wanted to do more for wildlife conservation and support the wildlife charities I had been working so closely with for the past 4 years.
Whilst working as an ecologist, I was stunned by many peoples’ views on bats and their descriptions of them as vermin or flying rats! I needed to do something about this, and education is the only way forward.
I did some research and realised there was a big gap in the market for products that not only raise awareness of declining wildlife but also depicted real-life hand-drawn images of the species on the products, so people can see just how beautiful they are.
I also realised this was a perfect opportunity to raise funds for the wildlife charities that work so hard to conserve and protect our wildlife.
So, I started working on a bat design with my illustrator Jo Medlicott (who I met at Uni), and the brown long-eared bat became our first design, with all proceeds going to the Bat Conservation Trust.
We soon had many requests for other species, so we also designed a moth and bumblebee to sit alongside our bat. Our website and the brand launched in Jan 2015. Six years later and we have 20 designs, support 15 charities and have donated almost £15,000!
MT: Tell me about Creative Candy’s mission?
LB: Simply to raise awareness of declining and protected wildlife species and to raise funds for as many wildlife charities as we can!
MT: What is unique about your business?
LB: What makes our business unique is a combination of three factors:
- All our products are made or printed in the UK.
- All our products feature declining or protected wildlife species
- We donate 10% of the sale price of everything we sell to 15 different wildlife charities (the list is growing)
MT: What is your kind of clientele?
LB: Our customers vary dramatically, but those who work in the wildlife and conservation sectors make up a huge proportion. Also, those who simply love wildlife, elegant homewares and gift, and those want to make a difference by shopping selectively and intelligently.
MT: What are the challenges of a business like yours?
LB: For any small business, the main challenges are getting people to know about you and also cash flow. I invested in a business coach last year, the wonderful Kevin Riley at ActionCoach Warwickshire, and he helped me massively with both of these issues. My turnover has increased four-fold since, so it’s something I would definitely recommend to other businesses.
MT: In which ways is your business helping to bring awareness to the wildlife conservation causes?
LB: All our products feature declining wildlife, and we donate 10% of all sale prices to 15 different wildlife charities. As well as this, we make sure we do lots of promoting on social media, lots of blogs and try as much as we can to educate and inspire.
MT: What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a business like yours?
LB: Choose something you are passionate about. Without passion, there will be no fire in your belly and no drive to succeed. I wake up every day excited about what might happen and motivated to move onto the next challenge. I love my job!
MT: What are the next steps to Creative Candy?
LB: More designs, more charities, and more events! 2021 is looking set to be even better! We have just started moving into our first-ever office space and we welcome Stacey to the team in March.
We will be launching new designs in the Spring, including an elephant, giraffe, and arctic fox to raise awareness of trophy hunting and the fur trade, and we have a list of charities waiting in the wings to work with us. We are currently working on new designs with them, but it’s all top secret for now! All I can tell you is there are some very exciting times ahead.
Once things have got better in the world (hopefully soon), we would love to run some pop-up shops as there is nothing like meeting your customers face to face. We’ve really missed going to all the bat, dormouse etc conferences so hopefully we can start attending these again soon.
I’d love to grow the team even more, and also start to take a wage myself. Not many people know that I have never taken a wage from Creature Candy and all the profits we make go back into the business to help it grow and to develop new products, and what’s more important than that?
I’ve not had the greatest of starts to the year on a personal level, as I contracted COVID in January whilst 8 weeks pregnant. It was a very worrying time for us but I’m doing much better now, and I’m delighted to announce our second child is due in August. I’m so grateful I have such a wonderful team around me to help manage the business, as without them it would not be possible. Thanks, Della & Ruth!
Creature Candy on Social Media