In Partnership with Saba Jewellery
Moon BearsNothing beats a personal recommendation. So when a friend of mine who is a BBC television wildlife presenter described the charity Animals Asia as amazing, and its 1998 founder, Jill Robinson as formidable, I knew that I'd found what I was looking for. Jill Robinson is my kind of woman. She has been awarded an OBE for her work with animals, especially Moon Bears, thousands of whom are treated appallingly — in the name of traditional medicine — in bile battery farms in China and Vietnam. Jill has set up two sanctuaries where there are more than 500 rescued bears. Animals Asia also helps to rescue dogs and cats from the meat trade, educates on compassion and respect for all animals, including those used in circuses and safaris. God I admire that woman — and all people who work at the coalface of this kind of horror.
For a long time I had been wanting to make my small business into more than a job that pays my way and it wasn't until recently that I worked out how to do it and what movement I wanted to support (there are so many worthwhile causes!). When I discussed this with my friend Brian Finnegan of GCN he clarified that what I wanted was for Saba Jewellery to become an activist brand. I know, sounds very lofty, but heck, I'm turning 50 this year and I'm going for it! I want my actions in this world to try to count for something decent. I love animals. That's it, beginning and end of story. Freedom and fairness — they are the two values that I wish the world could operate by, but humans are a tricky bunch to deal with for sure.
Freedom and Fairness Like I said, there are so many charities I have huge respect for. But I've always had a thing for bears. I've never seen one in real life — but they have some strange hold on my heart. Not in the same way that my own pet animals do, but in a more awe-inspiring way: their connection to the earth, their wildness, their power, their freedom. And in spite of the obvious differences between animals and humans, there is so much that we have in common: a sense of joy, fun, loyalty, community, love, pain, fear. I feel powerless and a sense of despair when I think of the needless suffering of Moon Bears, some of whom are in bile farms for as long as 30 years. So I decided that I would see what I could do, through my one-woman business, to raise awareness, do some fundraising and to try and make a difference. The result was my Soul Friends Collection. I launched this collection in June 2018 and I donated 20% of my direct sales to Animals Asia for that entire month. My packaging now contains information on Animals Asia and I will be having various fund raising activities over the next 12 months: I'll be running some competitions and sales and hopefully also holding a group exhibition (involving some of my friends who work in art, jewellery, ceramics, textiles and various other crafts) and all the proceeds will go to Animals Asia too.