Photo above: Partners Stu Jones & Anna Celeste Watson, founders of Compassion Collective and Compassionate Tee-Shop
July 2017 marked 7 years since our first ever t-shirt design ‘Highland Cow’ was unleashed into the world! Little did we know then that it would become the birth of the Compassionate Tee-Shop [renamed Animaltopia Clothing in July 2018] and the Compassion Collective. So we thought we’d share more about how our online t-shirt shop started life, and why we now choose to be as ethical and sustainable as possible…
A little bit of history
From Dorset with Compassion
In November 2009 Web Designer Anna Celeste Watson founded Compassionate Dorset with her friend, Dietitian and fellow Vegan Baker Sandra Hood. Based in Dorchester, Compassionate Dorset was set-up as a local voluntary supporter group for the leading farm animal welfare charity Compassion in World Farming.
The group’s aim was, and continues to be, to help empower people to choose free range, higher welfare and sustainable food including meat-free and vegan options – to help end factory farming which we believe is the biggest cause of animal cruelty and environmental destruction on the planet.
We soon found lots of local volunteers who shared our passion so we had regular get-togethers and booked information stalls and yummy homemade vegan-friendly cake sales at local events including the Tolpuddle Festival and Dorset County Show. We are very proud to now be one of the charity’s most active supporter groups!
But, we couldn’t ignore our creative nature, so we didn’t just stop at events…
Photo above: Our original ‘Cow’ t-shirt modelled by Miranda courtesy of Frank&Faith, photographed by Pete Millson back in 2010
Photo above: Anna & Stu running a Compassionate Dorset stall with the Compassionate Tee-Shop, Eden Holistic Fair 2015
The Compassionate Tee-Shop is born
In the Summer of 2010 Anna asked her partner, Illustrator and Graphic Designer Stu Jones (who she met at Wimbledon School of Art, now working as ethical design studio Boo&Stu) to design some farm animal themed t-shirts to sell at events. Stu created our epic signature farm animal head tees including our ‘Highland Cow’ and we launched them at our next event, our ‘Big Lunch’ in the Dorchester Borough Gardens. We also posted them up online as designs for t-shirts, clothing and other accessories printed on demand through a platform called Spreadshirt to raise money for Compassion in World Farming. And so the Compassionate Tee-Shop was born!
Stu’s “Gorgeous” cow t-shirts went on to be featured in the women’s glossy fashion mag Cosmopolitan thanks to our volunteer Anya Pearson, who promoted our tees on the website of her own RSPCA highly commended ethical fashion label – Frank & Faith.
In May 2011 we had fun running a design competition with our friends at South West Artwork and Meetdraw and chose 4 winning designs including the now bestselling ‘Born to Roam’ by Bristol based studio TinCat Design. We can’t tell you how chuffed we were when we got their design submission through by email! It was a beautiful detailed illustration of farm animals roaming free, and we thought really summed up what we were all about. In fact we love it so much in 2017 we commissioned a wildlife version too (‘Born to Roam Wild’) which we think is just as fab, and is now our bestseller.
Photo above: Anna wearing our new bestselling ‘Born to Roam Wild’ top by TinCat Design
From the launch of our first t-shirts in July 2010 up til January 2015, we were run completely voluntarily by Anna & Stu and donated 100% profits from all sales after any printing costs to our favourite animal welfare charities – especially Compassion in World Farming.
Our Bonnie Donkey
In 2015/16 we were privileged to help raise over £4,500 for our beautiful donkey-mad friend and Compassionate Dorset volunteer Bonnie through 100% profits from sales of our limited edition donkey t-shirts (as well as artworks created under the Compassion Collective which is the name we had now adopted for our various creative charity endevours!). Donations were in aid of Animal Aid Unlimited and Bonnie’s Last Wish for Suffering Donkeys and are helping to fund the Bonnie Christopher Forever Home for Donkeys – a sanctuary in India set up in her memory to help thousands of overworked, neglected and abused working donkeys.
“With thanks to all of you that have bought donkey tshirts, my fundraising total has smashed through the £15,000 target. This is an incredible achievement… Thank you to everyone for your support, it means the world to me and will make the world of difference to many, many suffering donkeys. xxx”
– Bonnie Christopher
We, Bonnie and her parents, were sssoooo excited seeing all the t-shirts orders as they flooded in and the donation total grew before our eyes! We were totally blown away by the support for Bonnie’s tee campaign – and its purely testament to the inspirational being that Bonnie was. She inspired people all over the world who had never met her with her beauty, spirit and selfless love of animals. Bonnie was a massive fan of our tees and the first time we met her at a Compassionate Dorset get-together she was wearing her Highland Cow tee – she was excited because she didn’t realise it was us who actually designed it, and it was super exciting for us to see someone wearing one of our tees in the flesh! Bonnie passed away in 2015 at the age of just 41, which quite simply broke our hearts and we miss her terribly. But her light shines on and continues to inspire us to do what we do. You can still donate to Bonnie’s campaign directly here.
Where we are now:
Ethical, sustainable t-shirts for animal lovers
Photos above: Stu wearing our bestselling ‘Save Our Whales and Dolphins’ tee & Anna wearing our ‘Stop the Badger Cull’ campaign tee
It’s still all for the love of animals!
Animals are at the heart of everything we do – because we think all animals should be treated with respect and compassion.
But running the Compassionate Tee-Shop (and the Compassion Collective) has become so much more than just a hobby! So in 2017 we are devoting even more energy to building up our own brand of animal inspired fashion from the comfort of our home office and a bit of DIY photography! We are no longer financially affiliated with Compassionate Dorset but will never forget our roots, and we continue to work closely with them on design projects. You can also find some of our original tees at Compassionate Dorset events.
We are now based in the beautiful New Forest on the Hampshire/Dorset border where we often enjoy seeing highland cows, wild ponies, donkeys and foxes roaming free! We still create epic animal inspired graphic t-shirts for fellow nature lovers and free spirits who want to wear their heart on their chest. Our aim is, and always will be, to spread the love for animals and our planet. And, just as our design studio Boo&Stu is based on our ethical values, we choose to make our tees as ethical as possible too…
Although we have always used sweatshop-free suppliers, our new online t-shirt shop which we launched in March 2017 for World Wildlife Day, is powered by the most ethical t-shirt suppliers in the whole world – Rapanui, printed using their Teemill print-on-demand platform in the Isle of Wight (which you can just see in the background of our photo above left as we are now literally just a stone’s throw away across the channel!).
Making our t-shirts using organic materials through the most ethical and sustainable suppliers on the planet, to be completely honest, means we make quite a lot less profit for ourselves and for the charities we support. But… sometimes… you just have to do the right thing. Many top charities are now also using Teemill and we are sure that our lovely customers care enough about animals, people and the planet to hop on board with us and to see the value in spending a little more on great designs and top quality clothing – all created with love and compassion.
With award winning traceability from seed to shop, our garments are made by Rapanui and are sweatshop-free. All our clothing is made in India in Rapanui’s ethically accredited factories then printed especially for you in their Teemill factory on the Isle of Wight UK – with fair wages for everyone. (Photo: some of the lovely people who work at Rapanui’s factory in India).
Our garments are made with organic cotton or sustainable bamboo using clean renewable energy from low carbon wind and solar powered factories, and are printed with environmentally friendly inks using low waste state-of-the-art print-on-demand technology. If you post back old unwanted tees our suppliers Rapanui will even recycle them and give you £5 credit!
Our online shop is powered by RSPCA Good Business award winner’s Rapanui using their Teemill platform. Compassionate Tee-Shop do not use any animal-derived materials so all our products are vegan. We still donate a small share of our profits to our favourite animal welfare charities and causes including Compassion in World Farming, Whale and Dolphin Conservation and Born Free Foundation to help raise awareness… because animals matter.
Who Made My T-Shirt?
You can now also follow the journey of a Compassionate Tee-Shop product – from organic seed – to ethical shop – and if you’ve placed an order you can meet the exact people who made and packed your tee.
Here’s to the next 7 years of Compassionate Tees…
Wearing ethical eco-friendly clothing and charity campaign tees is of course just a small gesture in a massively complicated and messed up world! But we love animals, we love art and design, and we love creating animal inspired t-shirts to raise awareness and funds for awesome causes. And we want our customers to wear their tees with pride and feel part of something good – part of our Compassion Collective!
If you love what we do please share this post to spread the love and help us continue to grow over the next 7 years and beyond so we can help even more animals…