We are so excited to launch Animalia and help bridge the gap between wildlife lovers and conservationists! Our goal with Animalia is simple: offer people high-quality, beautifully designed products to celebrate the wildlife they love while directly contributing to its conservation. 10% of every sale goes directly into the hands of our conservation partners working with the featured animal; we showcase them all on our site so you can further explore these organizations. The work they do is what inspires us, it is why we created this brand. These amazing partners are doing the hard, meaningful work in the field and they deserve our support and attention. When you buy a shirt with Animalia, you are directly contributing to the animal’s conservation and receiving an incredible tee from acclaimed designer Dana Veraldi that you will cherish for years.
My journey to Animalia started just last year. I traveled to Southeast Asia in January of 2018 looking to get involved in a meaningful way in elephant conservation — a longtime passion and interest I just never had a chance to pursue. During that trip, I met the incredible team behind MandaLao Elephant Conservation in Laos. Far and away the most progressive approach to conservation I saw during that trip, it was a team and organization easy to fall in love with. I wrote a donation check that day and committed myself to help out in any way I could in the future. If you want to see who true heroes are, its people who are truly willing to sacrifice their time and lives to support wildlife. I encourage you to check out MandaLao and the team and work behind it, you will be just as inspired as I am.
In August of 2018, my friend Annalie Juan visited MandaLao and had an equally mind-opening experience. In December of 2018 my sister, Dana Veraldi (the incredible designer and mind behind the fashion brand DEERDANA), visited MandaLao as well. Both Annalie and Dana left that experience motivated to get involved. That’s the special kind of place MandaLao is: it moves you to find your own way to contribute and get involved in wildlife work. Again, it’s a life-changing experience I recommend for everyone. We then convinced Amanda Veraldi (sister to Dana & I), an executive at JCrew, to join our efforts as well.
We all huddled together late in 2018 to try and find a unique way to contribute to conservation. I was coming off of months of campaigning to raise donations for The Lao Elephant Initiative (LEI), our partner program at MandaLao and now one of our esteemed partners at Animalia, and was struggling with the challenge of how hard it is to convince people to donate money, even small amounts and with love for the animal in need. Our solution: sell them a product they will love and cherish that celebrates the animal they love while also giving them the opportunity to directly contribute to its conservation effort, combine this with the design talent of Dana, and Animalia was born.
We are launching with four animals, benefiting four conservation groups: the elephant tee benefits the Lao Elephant Initiative, the rhino tee benefits Our Horn is NOT Medicine, the sea turtle tee benefits the Latin American Sea Turtles Association and the giraffe tee benefits Giraffe Conservation Foundation. We plan to launch new animals throughout the year. Our goal one day is to offer a shirt for every animal in the world, so no matter what animal you love, we’ll provide a way to celebrate it and support those working to helping that animal thrive.
We are committed to our cause and to our partners. We will always make supporting them our top priority. Again, they are the ones doing the hard work in the field, not us. We are merely trying to do our part and see if we can build a business along the way. In addition to our commitment to the animals, we are also committed to the environment: we use 100% recycled cotton for our shirts, we will never use plastic in our packaging or shipping and our tees are printed in the US, helping reduce our overall carbon footprint.
We will always be transparent about our financials and business practices. I can tell you right now it costs us $17-$18 to make each shirt (shirt, printing, packaging, etc..). This is much higher than a typical tee because they are made from recycled material and printed in the US. We then give 10% of the sale to our conservation partners, bringing our total costs on the shirts to $22-23. In addition to the conservation donations, we also have a unique policy where we’ll donate another $10 to our conservation partner every time we re-post content on social from a wildlife photographer. We then, of course, have to pay for our staff, marketing, operations, which is why our price point is $49. At the close of every year, we will release a post about our year-end financial summary and what, if any, profits we end up with. We believe it’s ok to profit from a business that aims to do meaningful, positive work, and there is nothing wrong with being transparent about that. Of course, we have a long way to go to get there! And if we never turn a profit, that’s okay too. So long as we are empowering people to love and support the animal of their choice and contributing to wildlife conservation in a meaningful way.