As our partnership with The Aspinall Foundation began this month we caught up with Victoria Aspinall, the creative director behind this Internationally renowned animal conservation charity who we are so thrilled to be working with this year.
With husband Damien Aspinall, the duo have continued John Aspinall's founding dreams of reintroducing animals back into their natural habitats. With a love for travel and conservation as well as a career in interior design, Victoria has travelled far and wide…
"Our most meaningful travel memories are without a doubt when we (The Aspinall Foundation) send UK captive wild animals back to Africa and re-wild. Since 1984, we have rewilded over 320 endangered animals, most notably 15 black rhinos to Tanzania, 80 western lowland gorillas to our reserves in Gabon / Congo and the first-ever cheetah to be sent back to their homeland of South Africa. A humongous amount of work goes into these rewilding projects, and there are so many nail-biting moments (notably flying in an army helicopter with 4 very conscious teenage gorillas over Gabon national parks). Seeing these animals take their first steps to freedom then go onto breed and start a family of their own is one of the most emotional and rewarding moments. "
What is your most memorable moment with Wildlife? Any close shaves?
"So many! Most recently we sent back to South Africa 2 captive cheetah, one of which (Saba) I hand-reared from 1 week old. The journey for me was so emotional! As his ‘mummy’ packing him off on the BA flight from LHR to cape town, then seeing him take his first steps on African soil at his forever home in Mount Camdeboo, SA was like watching your child graduate! Many ‘experts’ said it was impossible to rewild captive cheetahs, but these animals still have their hunting instincts intact and both are now roaming free and fully sufficient."
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ASPINALL FOUNDATION
What's your idea of a perfect family holiday?
"For family hols, we love Harbour Island in the Bahamas, it's super relaxed and unspoilt. For staycations, Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve (our 600-acre wild animal reserve and conservation hotel in Kent) is perfect for families wanting a meaningful holiday in safari-chic lodges and no carbon footprint! All profits from overnights stay go directly back to the animals, so what's not to love."
What does sustainability mean to you?
"With my background in fashion and now interior design, I see so many new sustainable materials coming to the market. Every decision process I make with my designs I evaluate whether a more sustainable material can be used (such as econyl carpets made from recycled fishing nets & plastic bottles)."
If you had to choose, where is your favourite place on earth (so far)?
"Wow, tough question! Africa is where my heart lies and I can see myself spending more time out there, maybe building some luxury conservation safari lodges, who knows?!"
Looking back on your successes what piece of advice would you share ?
"Grab every opportunity and don’t be afraid to take risks. For me, surrounding myself in nature and doing a job that fundamentally makes a difference in the world of conservation is the most rewarding."
To mark the collaboration, Oliver LOVE BRAND & Co. founder has designed a distinctive, playful print for the AW21 collection, 'Gorilla Gossip' which celebrates The Aspinall Foundation’s enduring commitment to Critically Endangered western lowland gorillas. The bold navy and white design features on our 100% GOTS-certified organic linen shirts and complimented by our best selling 100% recycled plastic swim shorts. And with every purchase from the whole AW21 collection, we are thrilled to be supporting The Aspinall Foundation by donating a percentage of profits from the collection to support their gorilla protection project in Congo and Gabon.
IMAGES COURTESY OF THE ASPINALL FOUNDATION