Lizzie Barker- Founder of Creature Candy
Lizzie created Creature Candy back in 2015, a business with the aim to raise awareness of wildlife conservation and raising funds for many wildlife charities! Amazing!
Short bio about yourself and your career so far:
I was a bit of a late starter with my career and until the age of 28 I had no idea what I wanted to do. After I dropped out of a business studies course at Uni, I just kind of drifted from job to job (I’ve literally tried everything from shoe shop manger to estate agent) and then decided to go back to my first love - ballet! I trained as a ballet, tap and modern dance teacher and taught young children for a number of years. But it wasn’t the right career for me and I felt unhappy and unfulfilled.
At the age of 28, I decided to go to Aberystwyth University to study a degree in Zoology, as wildlife and nature had always interested me and given me a sense of calm and also a thirst to learn! 3 years later, I was awarded with a first class honours degree and left hand in hand with my future husband Sam! I was certainly on the right path now.
After graduating, my first job was on a bat survey, assisting a senior ecologist with a dusk emergence survey, where I needed to watch a derelict building for a couple of hours to see if any bats flew out. That was my first encounter with bats and I was immediately hooked! I then went on to work freelance with several different consultancies, building my knowledge and experience all the time. I was given my bat licence about two years later. I worked as an ecologist for 5 years before setting up Creature Candy in 2015.
How did you start ‘Creature Candy’?
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 view 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.
Please highlight a conservation issue you are particularly interested in:
Due to the nature of my business, I don’t have one specific issue I’m interested in but a whole range. Bat conservation, red squirrel conservation, wildcat conservation - we do our best to highlight as many as possible. That's what we are all about!
What can people do you help with this issue?
We simple ask people to read our blog and social media posts and learn a little but more about these issues. I'm learning every day myself, so there is always something else to find out! Education is the key and a core value of our business. We aim to inspire and encourage others to help out with wildlife conservation in some way, even if it’s just reposting our social media posts to tell their friends about wildlife issues. I think we have achieved this but there is always more we can all do.
How does ‘Creature Candy’ contribute to wildlife conservation?
The primary aims of our business are to help raise awareness of declining wildlife species and to raise funds for wildlife charities. All our products feature these wildlife species and we donate 10% from the sale of all our products to the charities we support. We currently have 20 designs, support 15 charities and have donated almost £15,000!
What is your greatest achievement with your business?
Last year we had our best year ever, despite the difficulties we all faced with coronavirus. I took on my first two members of staff and increased our turnover by 300%. We added more charities to our list, created more new designs and were able to donate more funds than we have ever done. In June, we also launched a very successful crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for The Scottish Seabird Centre, which was in danger of closure. We raised £6666 for them, which was well over our expected target. At the end of the year, we also had some very big orders from new stockists, including the RHS. What a year it was!
What is your favourite species?
It has to be the brown long-eared bat as this was our first design and I have a little soft spot for him. It remains to this day our best seller! Plus I’ve worked with bats for several years and had many close encounters with them. They are just amazing creatures!
What advice do you have for people wanting to pursue a career in business and linking it with wildlife conservation?
Find an area you are passionate about and the rest will just fall into place. That’s exactly how it worked for me. I knew nothing about business when I started Creature Candy but my passion for wildlife, conservation and fundraising kept me motivated and gave me the drive to want to learn new things all the time. I’m a completely self taught business woman and I love going to work everyday!