From Managing the Theatre Stage to Handcrafting French-Inspired Skincare & Candles

Chez Lapin is a Pittsburgh-based small business that specializes in artisanal candles and natural skincare products. Founder Claire Landuyt combines her love for animals, French culture and the arts to create a cruelty-free, eco-conscious brand. Chez Lapin donates a portion of monthly proceeds to Rabbit Wrangles, where Claire also helps to foster rescued rabbits.

Chez Lapin was previously featured in 10 Bunny Owners & Their Bunny-Inspired Businesses.

Featured image photo by Todd Barnett, 2021.


Little Beginnings

Growing up in the Midwest, Claire’s childhood was filled with animals. Having to care for pets with her family at a young age, her upbringing nurtured a strong sense of empathy and compassion for living beings as a whole.

While her love for animals would eventually carry over to her current business, Claire’s education background was very different from her current work as a niche handcrafter. She studied theatre for university, even spending six months in France as part of her course.

During her stay, she was greatly inspired by the country’s culture. In fact, the name “Chez Lapin” (pronounced shay-la-pan) is French for “at the home of rabbits”.

Claire's rabbit, Coriander
Claire’s lapin, Coriander.

“I just fell in love with how they live. Chez Lapin is sort of a branch off of that. Sort of my way of creating that lifestyle here in America, [where] the culture is very work-heavy and the very opposite of how the French view life,” Claire says.

Although her stay in France had a positive, profound impact on her worldview, it was unfortunately marred by skin troubles. She recalls her skin began going through a “horrible phase” during those months.

“I went to the dermatologist in France but everything he prescribed to me was hurting my skin. I had really bad – they called it cystic acne. It hurt so bad.”

“After years of struggling with that and using strong, commercial cleansers and creamers and things … My skin was so messed up. Of course, you try to remedy that by putting makeup on your face, which also messes up your skin over time.”

Several years after her graduation, Claire moved to Pittsburgh to live with her now husband and pursue greater job opportunities for her specialization in theatre.

“I did that for quite a few years and I really enjoyed it. But it was hard to make a sustainable living.” She shares how the industry was often underfunded – and underpaid. Continuing to battle difficult skin issues, she couldn’t afford to keep trying and hoping the next expensive product was the miracle cure.

“I was forced to like, ‘Okay, if I want to have nice, happy skin, I gotta start making my own stuff.”

Harboring a love for crafting and working with her hands, she began researching how people made skincare products. Slowly, she incorporated clays, floral waters and essential oils into her routine, gaining immense knowledge about different natural components in the process.

Chez Lapin skincare pictured: toner, lip salve and facial oil
Chez Lapin’s skincare line

“The key is less is more. By using gentle ingredients, your skin can naturally restore its balance.” She gives an example: “By moisturizing my skin with nut oils, it stopped producing wild amounts of oil to overcompensate for what I was stripping it of.”

“After I started making my own products, people were saying, ‘You know, you could make money out of this on Etsy.’ After that I really realized that, ‘This could work. This can totally work! This can be a job!”

A tough journey of taking skincare matters into her own hands, combined with her love for animals and French culture, formed the foundation of the Chez Lapin brand.

Chez Lapin signboard

The Art of Small Business

Claire attributes her many business skills to her former job as a stage manager in the theatre scene.

“From making sure the talents and actors have proper rehearsal space, or that everything on the stage is ideal and ready for whatever is up next … There are so many hats you wear as a stage manager,” she says.

Indeed, her ability to multi-task and oversee details big and small was essential as a small business owner. As she describes, “There’s a period of time where you’re the only one, so you have to make it all work.”

Chez Lapin farmer's market
Claire interacting with her customers at the Chez Lapin booth

Claire’s theatre background, where there was a huge focus on presentation, helped her translate Chez Lapin’s unique selling points into a solid, visual package. She compares branding and design for business to a “theatre show”.

“It’s how you present your art. In theatre, I’ve worked with a team of professionals on making a beautiful piece of artwork to present to strangers. And that’s so similar to what I do in Chez Lapin,” she explains.

“You have to consider what would people like, how can I present that to people, how do I need to dress when I’m working in order to pull people in … There are so many different things that you have to consider to make it cohesive.”

Chez lapin logo product labels
Product labels; Claire handles production from start to finish.

When the pandemic hit more than a year ago, Claire found herself temporarily laid off from her theatre work and unemployed. However, with Chez Lapin, she sees these unexpected life changes as a blessing in disguise. She also took up online classes, especially those on branding, to up her skills.

“I’ve been able to take Chez Lapin full-time and give it all my energy and effort. It’s been pretty exciting and the following behind the brand has really grown a lot since I focused on presentation. I’m thrilled!”

Chez Lapin farmer's market

Nature’s Inspiration – and Its Challenges

“My favorite place in the world is sitting outside. If it’s in my garden, or walking in the woods, or sitting by the river … That’s my favorite place in the world – just to be sitting outside,” Claire says.

During her time in Toulon, France, she would often “walk a route that had wild lavender growing and lemon trees.” Today, she replicates the unique, bright fragrance in her French Lavender & Lemon Crème candle, so customers can also experience the enchantment of the wonderful scent.

Chez Lapin’s other products are similarly inspired by Claire’s nature travels. The Figue & Rose candle was influenced by her trip to a seaside farm in Pietra Liguria, on the Mediterranean coast of Italy. The dewy forests of Western Pennsylvania led to the Cedar Embers candle, which evokes the rustic warmth of a bonfire and its smoky, crackling wood.

Without preservatives and commercial stabilizers (some of which are even toxic to inhale), creating these fully natural, soy wax candles has its set of challenges.

“[The candles] will melt if it’s too hot. Like when it’s in the heat of summer and I have my candles at the farmer’s market. Or if it’s too cold, the soy wax will pull away from the glass jar,” she says.

“It’s almost it has its feelings of its own sometimes. But as long as you have in a safe, temperate, controlled place, it’s the best thing in the world.”

French Lavender & Lemon Creme soy wax candle
The yearly bestseller: French Lavender & Lemon Crème candle

She understands the slight changes in appearance may “look a little weird” to people who are less familiar with all-natural products. However, most customers are already aware of these little compromises and are more than happy to embrace healthier, cleaner and safer alternatives.

Such environmentally-friendly traits don’t stop with the luxury candles, either. Coming from personal experience, Claire does away with drug-like chemicals and sticks with real, herbal ingredients in her skincare products.

“My general rule of thumb is I don’t want to put anything on my skin that I can’t also eat – as crazy as that sounds,” she says with a laugh.

“Your skin absorbs over 70% of what you put on it, so why would you put something on your skin that you don’t want in your body? It’s also one of your biggest organs and it’s an eliminatory organ, meaning that’s how you expel waste through sweat, through your pores.”

This Year’s Project: Lavender Field

From the Chez Lapin lip salve, Blossom+Lavender Natural Toner to Rosie Glow Cleanser, Claire uses lavender frequently in her products. Already beginning to infuse her own oils, growing her own herbal ingredients was the next logical step.

“Half of the time, when I’m working on Chez Lapin, my production studio is actually in the basement of our house, so I don’t see the light of day when I’m working downstairs.”

“It’s unfortunate because I love being outside … So, I thought, “Oh my goodness, how cool and great would it be to grow my own ingredients – my own lavender, mints and roses? I’m in the dirt having fun, I can also incorporate those into my products and make them more unique!”

Lavender field in France
Chez Lapin currently sources lavender from a farm in Roumoules, France (pictured above), but Claire’s starting her own cultivation project this year.

Claire shares that her husband’s parents home was one of her favorite places to find inspiration for her next Chez Lapin creation. Coincidentally, they have some land about two hours outside of Pittsburgh and gracefully offered it for the project.

“I was lucky they have the space and they said, ‘Yeah, build a little lavender field!’ and I was ‘Oh my God! Cool!’ So we did!” she says.

With some help from a kind neighbor who excavated the plot of land, Claire went on to construct the field with her supportive husband, Marc. The two-person toiled over a sizable plot of Pennsylvanian soil with four thousand pounds of pebbles, sand and compost. (Check out a video of the process!)

“We nearly broke our backs for a day,” she laughs. “But it was really fun and we got it up.” If the project is a success, she hopes to further expand the field by three or four times next year.

For The Love of Rabbits

Bunny and dog team, Coriander and Millie
Coriander and Millie

Claire’s bunny, Coriander, is a “foster failure” from Rabbit Wranglers and currently rules over the family’s Fox Red Labrador, Millie.

Claire started volunteering with the rescue when she first moved to Pittsburgh in 2015. Now, she donates a portion of Chez Lapin’s monthly proceeds to the organization and continues to help foster rabbits.

“The best part is getting an animal in that is so fragile and afraid of humans, who had never been touched before, had never been fed good food or had somewhere soft to sleep … And then giving them that and watching them change into a different rabbit because they were given those things is one of the most rewarding things.”

“But when you’re fostering an animal, you fall in love with it inevitably. You see them make so much progress, and to turn around and pass them to someone else [so they can be adopted] is hard.”

“A big part of what I do is obviously for the rabbits,” she adds, regarding her business advocacy for animal welfare. “To remedy and change the life that so many of them have, whether it’s being kept in cages or from animal testing,”

Foster rabbit
Claire and one of her first fosters, Marilyn Bunroe

As Chez Lapin grows, Claire says her biggest objective is “to keep pushing and telling people that how it’s so easy to live and purchase products that are not hurting animals and not hurting the earth.”

“I’m really driving that mission and with that mission in mind, in a few years, my goal is to have a production studio with a small retail store upfront. People can come to visit me online, they can come visit me in person, at our little Chez Lapin home.”

From a stage manager to full-time handcrafter and business owner, Claire reflects, “I sort of laugh whenever I think about it because I don’t know how I ended up here. But at the same time, it’s like all of the signs were leading me here.”

“All of Chez Lapin’s values came together and it has been an honor to contribute towards cruelty-free, environmentally-safe causes.”

Chez lapin product display

Connect with Chez Lapin

All photographs courtesy of Chez Lapin, unless otherwise specified.

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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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10 Bunny Owners and Their Bunny-Inspired Businesses, Part 1

For those of us who share our lives with a bunny, we’re all familiar with the little things they do: that nose bump when you come home from work, that eager sniff when you peel a banana, and not forgetting the stubborn thump when you manage to annoy them. *fump*

Rabbits may be small, but they have the biggest impact on our hearts. Inspired by their rabbits, here are 10 amazing bunny people and their creative business ventures.

1. Oishi Bunnies, by Gigi “Cookie Yiyi”

Oishi Bunnies creates the most delicately detailed bunny treats. Reminiscing of the miniature wonder of Sylvanian Families, founder Gigi, fondly known as Cookie Yiyi, adopts a herb-based approach to making bunny-friendly cookies and birthday cakes.

The treats are made with ingredients such as organic herb filling, organic oats as well as real fruits. The concept came from Cookie’s own experience.

Cookie has 3 bunnies of her own: Barley, alpha lionhead lop; Bubble, sweet holland lop, and Missy, senior harlequin ninja bunny. Cookie turned to natural remedies when Bubble, who was due for neutering, failed his blood test six times despite the best vet care.

birthday cakes for bunnies
Barley and his Momma’s freshly baked layered cakes

Putting in the effort to research, source for seeds and grow organic herbs to boost Bubble’s health, nature works its wonder where lab-processed medicine failed. Cookie’s hard work paid off, Bubble finally passed his blood test and was neutered safely.

Soon, Cookie started making herb-based cookies and gave samples to friends. Receiving positive response, she went on to channel her creative instinct into baking cakes for bunnies.

“Watching those happy faces chew healthy cookies or smash their birthday cakes can really brighten up anyone’s day!” she shares happily.

birthday cakes for rabbies
Oishi Bunnies mini cakes

As a private rescuer, Cookie has personally rescued and rehomed several rabbits to loving families. Through Oishi Bunnies, Cookie feels honored that she can utilize her creativity to help and support bunny shelters. She has also met other bunny products and service providers who share the same spirit in giving back.

“We look forward to working with our partners, the3bunnies.co, myhappytales and crafteebun in the near future,” Cookie says. For the upcoming Christmas season, Oishi Bunnies will be fundraising for Bunny Wonderland and House Rabbit Society Singapore.

2. Fat Rabbit Farm, by Jason Ponggasam & Patty Variboa

Passionate creatives Jason and Patty are the founders and designers at Fat Rabbit Farm. Prior to their bunny-based venture, the couple ran a design studio named CreativePear that helps businesses with branding and identity. Today, Fat Rabbit Farm stocks a brilliant, joyful range of apparel, vinyl stickers, enamel pins and more.

Now, it’s a mistake to think of them as just another shop with graphic slogan tees – there are stories and personality behind each character. Inspired by their bunnies Babee and Blanket, Jason and Patty introduce Fat Rabbit Farm as a “magical, floating kingdom”, a place of fun and discovery inhabited by whimsical fellows.

“The real-life Babee and Blankets’ personalities are definitely instilled into the animated characters. Babee has always been a spunky, happy-go-lucky bunny with a big appetite! Blanket has always been an adventurer and a daring bun,” they explained about their bunny’s characters.

Their current rabbit, CoffeeCake, hasn’t been cartoonized, but they describe him as “our boss and makes sure the real Babee and Blanket are watching over us from above.”

Fat Rabbit Farm has come a long way since 2006 but the committed founders themselves have not stopped bringing humor, fun and light-heartedness into people’s everyday lives.

“We have fans and customers tell us how our creations brighten their day, or inspires them in some way – to even helping them through anxiety and depression. Making people feel happy and joy through our silly characters is an honor and we hope to continue to make a positive impact on people’s lives.”

gift for bunny lover

3. Napoleon Bunnyparte, by Tiffany McAuley

Napoleon Bunnyparte creates stimulating, puzzle-like bunny toys that not only can be tossed and chewed but are also attached with compartments to hide treats. Besides toys, customizable treats and other bunny things, the store also makes sure that humans aren’t left out by selling must-have hoodies and home accessories. Bunny-themed, of course.

Extending the love for rabbits to the greater community, Napoleon Bunnyparte runs a special Bun For Bun program. For every toy purchased, another is donated to rescues nominated by customers.

“We have had the opportunity to visit some of these rescues in person, in cities like New York and Hong Kong,” founder Tiffany shares. “Hearing an entire room of shelter bunnies nibbling away at the toys we brought in is an amazing experience that we carry with us.”

safe rabbit toy
A bunny at the New York Animal Care Centre checks out a donated toy.

At home, Tiffany’s bunnies are Sophie and Chloé, two best bunfriends since Napoleon, whom her business is named after, crossed the Bridge. Outgoing by nature, Chloé is a therapy bunny at a children’s hospice. Sophie, who has head tilt since 2018, sees the world a little sideways but otherwise enjoys life as a spoilt bunny.

Although head tilt is sadly irreversible, Tiffany shares how important it is for humans to see the positive by understanding the bunny’s perspective. Unlike humans, bunnies don’t compare life before and after. They just move – or rather, hop – forward.

two rabbits
Sophie and Chloé

“You will always look back and think of the things you could have done better. [But] trust that you are doing the best you can with the knowledge you have in the moment.” For support, she suggests head tilt groups such as Help for Head Tilt Hoppers.

4. D.Fluff Lounge, by Dawn Yeo

Behind D.Fluff Lounge is professional groomer Dawn Yeo, who specializes in mobile grooming services for small animals. She gained her skills through courses at Angie’s Pets, where the founder is a long-established pet groomer in Singapore.

Dawn also offers boarding services in her home. Indeed, no other place better than a bunny-loving groomer who has 5 bunnies of her own! Dawn took in Poochie, Thumper, Ponyo, Tiara and Amos from previous owners when they were unable (or some, unwilling) to care for them anymore.

bunny group

Being able to interact with fluffy bunnies on a daily basis has its happy moments. For clients who genuinely believe in their bunnies’ welfare, sometimes a little help from experienced bunny owners is all they need. For Dawn, answering housecalls and visiting clients in person presents this opportunity.

“It is always nice when clients take my advice and help their rabbits improve their quality of lives and living spaces,” Dawn says.

But sometimes her job goes beyond D.Fluff Lounge. Dawn recalls how a former client contacted her in desperation when the two rabbits she had once handled fell into tragic states. The owner, not fully aware, had placed the rabbits in an unethical boarding place. The case was later covered by local bunny rescues, Bunny Wonderland and Bunny Binkies Club.

One of the owner’s remaining rabbits was left paralyzed from the incident. As part of her medical boarding service, Dawn cared for him and the bunny was nursed back to health after 2 to 3 months.

“Unfortunately, he was unable to get back full control of his limbs,” Dawn says, but focusing on the positive, she adds that the bunny managed to gain a healthy weight and was able to hobble around again. Due to this incident, two other rabbits were also successfully rescued and rehomed.

5. Bunnies That Lunch, by Jessica McCarthy

Bunnies That Lunch is a monthly subscription box filled with bunny toys and treats. A huge animal lover, founder Jess grew up with furry and small reptilian creatures alike. Alongside Bunnies That Lunch, she also runs two sister businesses, Doggies That Lunch and Kitties That lunch. She currently shares her life with two bonded bunnies, Turtle (CEO and Chief Snack Taster) and Tofu (renowned Professional Bunstructor).

Bunnies That Lunch CEO, Turtle.

What’s actually in a Bunnies That Lunch box changes every month. It’s a fun and exciting surprise that sparks curiosity even in non-bunny species (i.e. Furless Apes. Humans.) For bunny owners, it’s certainly a joy to see our beloved companions sniffing and exploring the new goodies, which can range from chew toys such as willow sticks to varied packages of hay, herbs and dry fruit treats.

Connecting with like-minded bunny parents on social media, Jess recalls how some customers have supported Bunnies That Lunch since the very beginning.

“One lady in particular, Caroline, she lives in France and has never missed a single box in the whole 4 years of Bunnies That Lunch. We speak regularly on Instagram and she has become a friend to me, which I think is really special.”

“As a small business, I really feel every order, every customer, means something to me,” Jess adds. “I am so truly grateful.”

Bunnies That Lunch brings the luxurious treasure box to bunny rescues as well. Every month, a large bundle of goodies and samples is put together and donated to a nominated charity. The latest beneficiary this month is Little Furries Rabbit Rescue.

A furry, lopped-ear customer with a Bunnies That Lunch box

Check out “10 Bunny Owners and Their Bunny-Inspired Businesses, Part 2” 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?