10 Bunny Owners and Their Bunny-Inspired Businesses, Part 2

Bunny parents, top up the Timothy hay and remember to serve your rabbit bananas (well, just a tiny bit). Let’s hop onto the next five bunny-inspired businesses.

Read Part 1 of the article here.

6. BELLA by emma, by Emily Chuen & Magdalene Kong

Individually handcrafted from scratch, BELLA by Emma’s fashion accessories carry that special bespoke flair. The founder, “Emma”, represents talented ladies Emily and Magdalene. From procuring materials, fulfilling customer orders (by hand!) to photoshoots and marketing, the dynamic two-person team handles it all.

As a student, Magdalene was already making bags on her sewing machine. Later in life, they gained further skills while working as part-timers in a local leather shop. Their eventual usage of vegan leather was inspired by none other than their bunnies, Ash and Marshmallow. Further proof? Spot the brand’s exquisite, gold-toned bunny logo.

“Bella” means “beautiful” in French. True to their purpose, BELLA’s designs bring a fun, timeless and charming look to any outfit. “We want our products to bring confidence and remind people that they are simply beautiful and unique as they are,” Emily and Magdalene share.

Although real leather is traditionally seen as more superior, quality-wise, but Emily and Magdalene are determined that animals should not be sacrificed for the needs and wants of humans.

“We are always actively sourcing and testing out vegan leather and hardware from long-standing suppliers,” they emphasized. “[We] make sure that the leather and materials we use are of high quality and durable for daily usage.” Indeed, in this modern time and age, it’s high time we embrace the kinder alternative.

Last April, BELLA partnered with House Rabbit Society Singapore, donating up to 40% of sales proceeds in that month. (Every year, the month of April sees high bunny abandonment cases due to Easter Day.)

Emily and Magdalene hope to grow BELLA into a full fashion and lifestyle brand, providing greater variety and customized products for customers. As bunny lovers, they’re excited to contribute more towards animal welfare along the journey.

7. Rabbit Treasures, by Kristi DeVentura

Chew, dig, chill. Cardboard boxes are a bunny’s tunnel wonderland. Rabbit Treasures’s premium cardboard houses make the cutest miniature town for your rabbit — complete with “Café, Park and Cabin” — right in your living room.

Bunny and Rabbit Treasures’s Complete House Set.

A long time ago, Kristi thought rabbits “lived in a hutch and didn’t really do anything”. But a handsome spotted bunny changed just that when he came into their family. Once Kristi realized how she would rearrange her schedule to avoid disrupting Bunny’s routine, it was the moment she knew she “would do anything for this little guy”.

“From the time we brought him home to now (8 years later), he has been a pure joy. He has endless love to give and helps me through some of the toughest times,” Kristi says. “He is the perfect addition to our family.”

Kristi often bought shipping boxes and made them into fun houses for Bunny. Soon, she decided to share the joy with other bunny lovers, too.

The house set took two years of work behind-the-scenes. “The biggest challenge I faced was finding a supplier to make them. Once I found a supplier, I had to have cutting and printing dies made.” Kristi adds that heavier cardboard is used to ensure the houses were sturdy for international bunny usage (and destruction).

“I love receiving pictures of their babies enjoying and relaxing in my creation,” Kristi expresses. “It brings real joy to my day.”

Besides the original cardboard house set, Rabbit Treasures also sells a small range of adorable bunny-themed accessories. Rabbit Treasures goes on to donate a portion of proceeds to bunny rescue, Rabbit Wranglers.

8. The Well Kept Rabbit, by Anna Ehredt

The Well Kept Rabbit offers a holistic blend of wellness herbs. Each wholesome package of flavorful goodness focuses on common bunny health issues, such as digestive, molting and arthritis problems. Herbs are organic and sustainably sourced from ethical suppliers.

“My initial research began with creating an organizational chart of what each herb is traditionally used for,” Anna says. While highly experienced as a House Rabbit Society Educator, she also reached out to Lucile Moore — author of Rabbit Nutrition and Healing — in the early days for expert knowledge.

Not quite sure which one’s for your rabbit? Try them all with The Well Kept Rabbit’s herbal sample set.

“I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just creating treats that aesthetically looked appealing,” Anna explains. Rabbits forage by nature, so the products consist of a variety of flowers, barks and grasses. Other than the six “holistic health” support line, The Well Kept Rabbit also offers bite-sized bunny nibbles and extends the blends to a Poppers treat series.

Through TWKR, Anna recalls the amazing experiences she had with bunny owners. “One that always stuck out to me,” she recalls, “is a message from a customer: My girl has only a few things that excite her left, as she is disabled and blind. Those poppers give her so much joy!” Several TWKR products are even named after beloved furry customers who crossed the Bridge.

Buster, the group’s love-bug

At home, Anna cares for 4 adopted fellows: Buster the love-bug, Jiggy the sassy teenager girl, Delilah the foodie and Symphony the troublemaker. But she always remembers her first bunny, Jujube, fondly. That one black, store-bought bunny who started her journey into bunny welfare.

Note: Originally under The Well Kept Rabbit, the Hop n’ Flop bed now has its own exclusive Etsy store. Made for bunny flopping comfort, many bunny owners also find that the supportive beds assists head tilt bunnies with balance issues.

9. Friend Rabbit, by Bunnico Cheng

Friend Rabbit is a cozy, quaint café based in Taiwan. Founder Bunnico is a photographer who combines her love for rabbits with art, seeking to showcase the beauty of lagomorphs. Besides framed portraits, her work extends into the form of postcards, calendars and photography books.

Bunnico shares her life with two bunnies, Lusa (露莎) and U Bao (U宝). “Lusa is independent, yet a little introverted and shy. She’s like my guardian angel, quietly watching me as I go about my work,” Bunnico describes. In contrast, U Bao is the outgoing one. “He always charms people and approaches them on his own. He’s a helping hand when it comes to serving customers.”

Functioning as a café, light drinks and snacks are a must, but the shop sells potted plants and handpicked pre-loved books as well, adding a tasteful quality that draws in people from different walks of life into appreciating the wonder of rabbits.

However, Bunnico’s main focus lies in her photography work. Customers can book a photography session for their rabbits. The cafe’s garden serves as the perfect backdrop.

Bunnico remembers a conversation with a customer in the garden, where the topic gradually turned to life and one’s final departure. The customer’s bunny was exploring the garden’s greenery, but decided to hop over to the humans and settled with them, long ears calm yet attentive.

“How [the bunny] responded really made me feel that rabbits are incredibly perceptive and intuitive. They’re just so open and accepting of the things around them, and of us,” Bunnico says. A passionate lover of animals and art, she also plans to publish an independent magazine in the future.

Bunnico’s limited edition rabbit portrait, “In The Morning Light (沐浴晨光)”

10. Chez Lapin, by Claire Landuyt

Chez Lapin sprouted from founder Claire’s love of French culture and – who else? – rabbits. After years of battling skin issues and suffering at the hands of harsh commercial products, Claire decided to craft her own natural skincare products. Plus the loveliest candle collections, too.

For Chez Lapin, Claire uses safe and gentle ingredients such as floral waters, clays and essentials oils. Completed with the logo of a candle-bearing bunny, the brand’s beautiful earth-toned products evoke the air of fresh blooms and classic Parisian streets.

“I keep the idea of simplicity in mind. I travel and wander as often as I can, all over the world, seeking inspiration from the natural elements.” It works; customers come back to Chez Lapin again and again, sharing how her products have changed their spirit, wellness and life for the better.

Spot Chez Lapin at various farmers’ markets in Pittsburgh!

Animals have had a huge role in Claire’s life. As a strong advocate of cruelty-free production, she tests her products on herself, family and friends. Her bunny, Coriander, is a foster-turned-permanent-resident and alpha to the family’s Labrador, Millie.

Coriander and Millie

“Without my love for animals and rabbits, I don’t believe that my enthusiasm would have carried me this far,” she reflects. Committed to the healing elements nature offers, animal welfare and environmental causes, the reward is knowing that the values she holds close to her heart are translated into her creations and contributed to the world at large.

Chez Lapin contributes a portion of sales to animal rescues such as Rabbit Wranglers, where Coriander is an alumnus. Claire shares photos and details of the animals helped with Chez Lapin’s monthly contributions on her business’s blog.

Special thanks to all the incredible business owners for sharing the heartfelt stories behind their work. Drop by their social media and show them (and their awesome bunnies) your love.

Psst … Read Part 1 yet? Check out the first five bunny-inspired businesses here.

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5 Differences Between Nonprofits, Social Enterprises & Commercial Businesses

Compared to the conventional struggle and feet-dragging of work for work’s sake, social enterprises present a golden opportunity for both self-sustenance and fixing the world’s problems.

“Aren’t nonprofits and social enterprises kind of the same, then?” Some ask. “How are social enterprises different from the ‘normal’ businesses out there?”

Ah, here’s how.

5 Differences that Set Nonprofits, Social Enterprises and ‘Normal’ Businesses Apart

1. How money is earned/raised

Nonprofits (also known as charities or NGOs) receive funds through donations, grants and/or sponsorship.

Some partner with local businesses; profit made from the sales of an agreed item is donated to the nonprofit. Many generate additional income by selling a product or service (e.g. calendars, homemade cookies and customized accessories) as a sideline.

House Rabbit Society Singapore actively rescues rabbits who were abandoned in the streets. They also take in those who technically had owners, but were left severely neglected in corridors.

For its 2021 Calendar, HRSS featured Ambassador Bunny, Haru, a former corridor rabbit, on the cover.

On income generation, social enterprises operate on a business model, thus overlapping with commercial businesses. They sell products and services for revenue. It can be chocolate. A magazine. Or bags of fresh vegetables.

The fine distinction lies in their purpose in generating profit, which brings us to our next point.

Did you know? To be tax-exempted, fundraising activities have to be directly related to the nonprofit’s purpose.

Activities such as website or newsletter advertising are considered “unrelated business activities”. The nonprofit has to pay tax on this income.

2. Purpose of existence

Nonprofits and social enterprises share similar goals. They’re established to solve real-world problems. Pollution, food waste, animal welfare – just to name a few.

Commercial businesses identify what people want and they supply it. The system is straightforward: when people buy, the business makes money.

While social enterprises seek to gain profit, they do so to self-sustain and to maximize social good in the long-term.

They ask: “How can we sell products in a way that also make life better for the community and environment at large?”

For example, Feed Our Loved Ones (FOLO) is not the first organic farm in Malaysia. However, while its commercial competitors mass-produce and distribute to major supermarkets, FOLO operates on a farm-to-table membership system, encouraging families to learn about food and reconnect with nature.

Every day, FOLO collects nearly 3 tonnes of food waste from local restaurants and hotels. The farm’s composting process gives nutrients back to the land.

In 2016, I had the opportunity of interviewing one of its co-founders.

3. How profit is used

For nonprofits, earnings mostly go towards daily operations and maintenance. For instance, at least half of monthly expenses in animal rescues are on food and vet bills.

cat animal social enterprise non profit
Pumba, one of the rescue cats at Purrth.

Before their venture, most social entrepreneurs are already exposed to the financial needs of these charitable organizations.

Therefore, profit in social enterprises has two important functions.

One, reinvestment to sustain and grow (like usual businesses). Two, regular donations to lighten the financial burden of non-profits.

Here are how these animal-minded social enterprises are helping their nonprofit counterparts:

“For Animal Welfare, and Human Happiness” is the vision of The Cat Cafe Purrth, where 13 rescue cats call the cozy place home. The cafe serves light food and drinks in front and allows customers (who bought tickets prior their visit) to interact with the felines, who are housed within the shop.

Besides showcasing adoptables and assisting in cat rehoming, Purrth also raised more than $10,000 for its partner charity, Cat Haven, in 2019.

FLOAT (For Love of All Things) designs limited-edition apparel based on a charity’s cause. Every week, a portion of sales is donated to their partner charity. FLOAT’s latest charity partnership involves House Rabbit Society and Raptors Are The Solution.

animal social enterprise
FLOAT’s official website, showcasing the weekly donation goal and charity.

4. Volunteers or Employees?

Most work at nonprofits (grassroots, in particular) is carried out by volunteers. The few permanent staff may include the founders themselves and general caretakers who are hired to maintain the necessary day-to-day chores of the organization.

Unfortunately, many nonprofits, while doing worthwhile work, often face manpower shortages as there is no binding commitment for volunteers to contribute labor regularly. The organization solely relies on the goodwill, sense of responsibility and loyalty of the individual to the cause.

In this aspect, social enterprises face less of this issue as they operate on a business model. They hire employees and pay salaries. Staff are bound by traditional employment contracts.

5. Community Impact

One of my all-time favorite quotes summarize the impact of nonprofits (with regard to animal rescues) as follows:

Saving one animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal.

Indeed, if there were no non-profits, social enterprises would not have evolved to what they are today.

On commercial businesses, the press-covered donations and awareness campaigns do gain some merit, but organizational revenue is often gained at the expense of ecological and social good.

The ugly irony: a corporate might run a successful CSR campaign for self-empowerment and safety in first world countries. Yet uses child labor and manufactures from sweatshops in third world countries.

In a social enterprise, employees are part of a mechanism that contributes to social good. Consumers are the source of sustenance. It is the ideal balance where profit meets purpose.

For instance, as a solution to eliminate plastic waste in consumer buying, zero waste stores are now a growing social business concept.

From handmade soap bars, feminine care products to fabric face masks, Minus Zero Waste sells a range of natural, reusable products. The shop recently started a mobile refill station; bringing zero waste buying to different regions of the city.

social enterprise zero waste
Bring your own container: Minus Zero Waste’s refill station for cleaning detergents and dish-washing liquid.

Which organization are you involved in? Is there a social enterprise in your city?

Transcript of Interview with Dr Lemuel Ng, Co-Founder of FOLO

Featured image photograph by Denise Lim.

This post includes the transcription of an interview conducted with Dr Lemuel Ng, co-founder of Malaysian social startup and organic farm, Feed Our Loved Ones (FOLO). From collecting local kitchen waste to upholding the farm-to-table movement by selling produce straight to consumers, the operation of the farm itself directly impacts the local community and contributes to social good.

I started home composting at the age of fifteen. In a way, that scrawny teenage girl wanted to make a difference by solving the kitchen and garden waste in her own home. I would become upset when my parents threw away fruit peels and dried leaves. At some point, I wondered if I wasn’t right in the head. Why was I composting and growing vegetables like a retiree – at fifteen years old?

In 2016, I visited FOLO with my classmates for a college assignment. This was how the interview came to be. I remember the enormous joy I felt when I saw the heaps of compost in their facility. The wonderful, earthy and slightly charred scent of ready compost! These were the people who were doing what I did on a much more massive scale. And they were right here in Johor Bahru (JB) – where I live.

Continue reading “Transcript of Interview with Dr Lemuel Ng, Co-Founder of FOLO”