- Kate Wilson

Chapter 3: A life changing moment

Chapter 3: A life changing moment

Dave and my life became more established in the South Luangwa and it really started to feel like home. We got married in the bush in 2008 with our friends and family as witnesses. It was wonderful to share this unique life with the special people we had grown up with. Finally, my friends could understand what it was like here on a day to day basis. Our random stories of baboon breaking into kitchens, elephant stealing our vegetables and buffalo chasing Dave down the road sounded far-fetched when read in London.

I became, if not khaki in dress code, at least more bush savvy. I was comfortable navigating a Land rover (in my mind more than Dave’s), adept at waiting for passing elephant without panicking and could figure out what type of big cat was in the area by the tone of a baboons’ alarm call.

I loved my new role as Retail Manager at Tribal Textiles; Tribal Textiles employ a large number of local artisans who hand paint textiles in big open-air studios. It was a pleasure to use my sales expereince to find markets for this wonderful product and I got a buzz from adding value in this way.

I was also very inspired by the owner Gillie Lightfoot and when she recommended the book The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron I committed to it. A 12-week course that unlocked my creative aspirations and uncovered my deep-rooted desire to run a business. It was not an easy course, but I would recommend it to anyone in search of bringing more creativity or change into their lives.

All the while I would spend my Sunday’s working on the jewellery project Abi had handed over. I brought in new beads, tried out new styles and looked for more sales outlets. I was enthralled by this and I got a natural high each time I designed something.

Making and selling jewellery enabled me to bring together everything I loved and believed in. I was creating essential employment, particularly for women, I was being creative and I was bringing women together to shop for a product that made them feel good. The only missing element was my passion for conservation and upcycling. This is when the idea of transforming brutal poachers’ snare wire, set down to trap bush meat and responsible for harming and killing iconic wildlife, was triggered. If I could turn that metal into jewellery and give donations back to essential anti-snare patrols it would be awesome. I just had to figure out how to manipulate the awful wire… my hands were not too chuffed with the undertaking!

In The Artists’ Way Julia Cameron states ‘Leap and the net will appear’. My passion for this small business grew so strong that an internal voice was pushing me to take it on full time. The concoction of a very supportive husband, the freedom afforded by living in the bush and this wonderful book saw me take the brave leap to running Mulberry Mongoose. I remember the day I made the decision to go for it. I took myself off for a long walk along the banks of the South Luangwa river. There I sat on an old tree stump watching elephant crossing and hippo wallowing. I asked myself if I wanted to take this huge risk and waited for my gut to answer. I felt a very strong kick in my solar plexus and never looked back.

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