As founder and owner of the award-winning florist Wild at Heart, Nikki Tibbles decided to put her high profile and famous connections to good use in 2015 when she set up the Wild at Heart Foundation to raise awareness for a cause close to her heart - rescue dogs.
Having originally worked in advertising, why did you decide to press the reset button on your career and become a florist? And what inspired you to make the switch?
I had moved to London to work in advertising, when I was asked to help with the flowers for a friend’s wedding. Something clicked and I immediately left my job to become an apprentice florist in South London, working for just £2 an hour. I had always been a creative person; however, I can’t draw, paint or sing – floristry became my outlet!
When was the moment you shifted your focus from flowers to founding a charity? And what motivated you to start the Wild at Heart Foundation?
My parents always said they would put me to bed every evening yet find me sleeping with our dogs in the kitchen in the morning … I grew up with dogs and have always been an animal lover. Meeting Nadine Kayser, Co-Founder of the Wild at Heart Foundation, was the ultimate motivation to do something about the global stray dog population. Nadine and I struck up a close friendship after we both adopted a dog from the same shelter - our love of dogs and like-mindedness fuelled us to make this inevitable decision to form the Wild at Heart Foundation.
It’s never really been a shift in focus. I feel incredibly fortunate that my florist and events business Wild at Heart has went from strength to strength, and that I am able to give something back…
Starting a new charity is a huge endeavour, how did you and your co-founder Nadine Kayser support each other at the beginning?
Both Nadine and I both have very demanding careers, initially starting the charity was very difficult for both us. However, we are both so committed to what we do and our passion supported us in the initial stages. We have a common goal, we really want to make a difference, but a difference that has much more longevity. As it’s not about just rehoming, but about education and creating awareness …. it’s about making a difference!
With six dogs yourself, what would you say to someone contemplating adopting a dog?
Giving a dog their forever home will be, undoubtedly, the most satisfying thing you do! They bring so much joy to our lives that I can’t ever imagine not having my dogs, I’d have 50 if I could.
How do you achieve balance in your work life?
It can be very challenging at times, both Wild at Heart and the Wild at Heart Foundation are expanding at an unbelievable rate, demanding a lot of my time. However, at the weekend I make sure I escape London and spend time with friends, family and my gorgeous dogs at my home in Sussex.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned along the way?
There are a lot of existing charities who don’t want to share their knowledge and experience for the greater good.
What’s your ‘pinch me, I must be dreaming’ moment?
Because I’m surrounded by so many extraordinary people who are so passionate about what they do.
Who or what inspires you?
I find constant inspiration in my team and the people I surround myself with, we are all aiming towards the same goal and are all equally passionate about what we do.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Always employee people who are better than you.
What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Don’t ever stop, learn to be compassionate and generous.
What did you want to be growing up?
When are you happiest?
At my home in Petworth, surrounded by my friends and dogs.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Having my business and setting up the Foundation.
And what would you like to achieve next?
There are 600 million stray dogs in the world. Along with the foundation we hope to dramatically reduce this by implementing ethical neuter and educational programmes on animal welfare worldwide.
When was the last time you laughed out loud?
Every hour …
At hush we value female friendships - what qualities do all your friends share?
Intelligent, empowered, independent, generous, compassionate, kindness and a good sense of humour.
What’s the one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
What’s your top tip to unwind?
Make time with those who you love the most and who make you laugh the most… and walking my dogs.
Over or under dressed?
Summer or winter?
Dogs or cats?
Word you over-use?
Desert island beauty product (we’ll give you sunscreen)?
A lovely scented candle.
Can’t live without…
Visit Nikki's charity the Wild at Heart Foundation here, to help animals all over the world!