For one day only, get 20% OFF your PiperWai order with the code RHINODAY. We will donate a portion of the day’s sales to Shannon’s organization, Animal Avengers. The money raised that day will go toward buying milk for orphaned baby rhinos at the Rhino Pride Sanctuary.
Our relationship with Shannon started a year ago, when she sent us a message through Twitter. Naturally, we were surprised that a well-known actress took time to reach out to our little deodorant company. We quickly learned the respect for each other was mutual and started thinking of ways we could work together toward a common goal: rhinos!
Shannon graciously took time out from saving animals to answer a few questions we have about her organization, her relationship with PiperWai and how everyone can work together to save animals.
How did you hear about PiperWai?
I heard about PiperWai on Shark Tank. I had stopped using pretty much anything with chemicals years prior, but I still hadn’t found a deodorant I liked or that worked. So I looked you up online and ordered some immediately.
What was your first impression when you tried it?
It smells great. The next big test was to see if it worked and for how long. I have always had a hard time finding deodorants or antiperspirants that worked, even with lots of chemicals. The only ones that worked for me were the worst ones that literally would block my lymph to a point that a knot would form under my arm. It was painful and scary. I started wearing PiperWai and day after day, it worked! I was shocked. So I kept testing it, even seeing how long it would work for on one application and if it would work just reapplying a little on day two right over day one. It pretty much always worked. I was completely hooked! So then I started giving it to friends as gifts.
Our relationship began when you reached out to us on Twitter, which was a pleasant surprise on our end! What prompted you to reach out?
I reached out to let you know how much I love the product and that if you ever wanted help bringing it to South Africa, I’d be willing to assist. I moved to South Africa at the end of last year to start a division of my nonprofit there and realized it’s a much harder place to find great, healthy products. South Africa is very much a developing market for healthy products and I would love to bring over all of the products I just can’t live without. What’s great to me about a truly healthy, non-toxic deodorant is that it can literally save your life. Putting something toxic directly onto your skin – your biggest organ – every single day is not at all healthy.
We are very happy you did and are excited to help you save animals and fight poaching. You started Animal Avengers as a dog and cat rescue, but it grew into something much bigger. Tell us about that evolution.
After running Animal Avengers as a rescue in Los Angeles for 10 years, I knew I wanted to evolve and find a way to help more animals in a much bigger way. As I started paying more attention to social media, specifically Instagram, I was beginning to see lots of articles, photos and videos about the animals being poached relentlessly in Africa. I knew there was no time to waste, as so many animals are now on the brink of extinction. Something in me clicked and I decided this would be the new direction for the charity, and for my focus in life.
Most people recognize you from your extensive acting roles. How has that visibility helped boost your organization?
Acting gives me a platform that I consider a big responsibility. It’s a gift not to be wasted. It gives me a voice to reach people and hopefully make a difference in many different arenas. It’s truly a blessing.
What do you enjoy about being an actress and a nonprofit founder/president?
I consider acting to be my job, my career. But charity work is my mission on this planet. I am very lucky to have them work hand in hand in my life. I enjoy entertaining people, and I love helping people and animals.
You split your time between South Africa and America. What drew you to South Africa?
When I decided to refocus the mission of Animal Avengers, I knew the only way I could truly make a difference was to head to Africa and start learning for myself, firsthand, what the issues are, the solutions that work, the solutions that have failed and who needs what help. So, I ended up spending time in South Africa on a couple of different trips and just decided I needed to be there often. I felt I could make great contacts there and accomplish more. I put everything in storage, took a few suitcases and moved.
When working with Animal Avengers, what’s an average day or week like?
It’s always completely different. One week I might be working on putting together a big fundraiser. Another week I might be in the field interviewing people and learning as much as I can. And still another, I might be kick-starting new programs and initiatives. I just take things as they come.
It’s bragging time! Tell us all about what your organization has accomplished.
On my first trip to Africa I brought suitcases of supplies for a few organizations, thanks to all the generous donors from the US who wanted to help support their efforts. I brought medical supplies to Saving the Survivors and was also able to buy them the fracture kit they desperately needed. I got a GoPro camera for Friends of Hwange and then went on to work with them to buy fuel for the water pumps in Hwange National Park and ultimately ended up installing a new solar-powered pump with them in the park. We brought medical supplies to AWARE in Zimbabwe and could purchase and import from Germany an elephant-tracking collar they needed for surgery follow-ups.
Recently, we did a big fundraiser in NYC to raise funds for Tokkie Botes from Flying For Freedom South Africa. We have already gotten him a bunch of night-ops equipment he urgently needed. Now we’re looking for someone who will match us in supplying his helicopter fuel for three months and part of that is being able to put their logo on the side of the helicopter. It’s great exposure, as he’s constantly in the field flying for anti-poaching and helping in Kruger National Park and all over the country.
I also took backpacks and hydration packs to the rangers in training at the South African Wildlife College, and Animal Avengers has some continuing efforts to work with an organization called Rhino Pride Foundation headed up by Dr. Jana Pretorius. I’m going to be assisting them in helping to host groups of people who want to come to South Africa and have unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences in the bush and with the rhinos particularly.
What’s in the works for Animal Avengers and what are some goals you have for it?
We’ve pledged funds to support a new organization that’s going to be all about endangered-species education through targeted initiatives we think could be a real game changer. It’s called Wildlife Review Foundation and the first project will be the Rhino Review. It’s being head up by renowned conservation journalist, Peter Borchert.
We’ll also continue to support great organizations on the ground in Africa, including Flying For Freedom and Rhino Pride Foundation. We only shifted our focus to Africa in late 2015, and it feels like we’ve come a long way in little time. So I’m really excited about everything in the works!
How can we help you save animals?
I think anyone who wants to help must first start educating themselves. Learn about the issues the animals face and what pulls at your heartstrings the most. This will help ignite the fire under you that guides you toward your mission in life. Then, make sure anyone you want to support is legit. There are so many frauds in this industry that claim they are doing things they aren’t. Do your due diligence. I have a transparency page on the website where I post as much as possible to show donors what money has been spent and where it’s going. I show pictures, receipts and whatever I can. I think it’s so important.
Please follow @AnimalAvengers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and share on your own social media pages. Donations are always great, but donating time to us, or any organization, can be even more valuable. We don’t have a volunteer program at the moment, although I hope to in the future. But there are areas we definitely can use help like social media development, help writing newsletters and grants, web development, etc. And the best thing people can do for themselves on World Rhino Day is to buy a jar of PiperWai deodorant so they are not only potentially saving their own life from harmful toxins, but also supporting the rhinos in Africa directly. Any donations we get from our partnership with you on this day are going to go towards buying milk for the orphaned rhino babies at the Rhino Pride Foundation sanctuary in South Africa. So purchases will mean even more on September 22.
Photo credits: Denford studios (@DenfordStudios) and Shannon Wild (@ShannonWild)