25 questions with Oliver Tomalin, founder of LOVE BRAND & Co
LOVE BRAND & Co was founded by Oliver Tomalin in 2010, distilling a British charm that centers on family, sustainability and conservation. Driven by a desire to support endangered species, Oliver dedicated the brand to help save wild elephants. Since day one, LOVE BRAND & Co. has committed a percentage of revenues – not profits – to a variety of elephant conservation and wildlife charities, coining its concept ‘Trunks for Trunks’.
This week Oliver joined Bicester Village friends and family to tell us a bit about himself.
I believe elephants hold the key to the changes of attitude that are required for a healthier planet in the future.
How did you get into designer swim shorts?
I was training to be an architect and found I didn’t have the patience for the seven-year training. I wanted my life and career to start now. I started importing espadrilles to London – it was an opportunistic and entrepreneurial idea and I loved it. I caught the bug for selling a summer lifestyle. I wanted to devise my own summer brand and, inspired by businesses that had a charitable giving model, I wanted my brand to serve a greater purpose.
Men’s swimwear was an exciting space and I saw swimming trunks as a canvas for my print designs. I have felt a strong affinity with elephants since a young age. I believe elephants hold the key to the changes of attitude that are required for a healthier planet in the future. Elephants are our largest land mammal; they demand a huge amount of wild space to survive. If we can save them, imagine what else we can save too. However, the eureka moment came with an exhibition in London of 250 life-size baby elephant sculptures decorated by well-known artists, an initiative in partnership with Elephant Family, a charity helping save Asian elephants.
And so LOVE BRAND & Co. was born with the concept of ‘Trunks for Trunks’ – swimming trunks saving elephants.
What makes yours a cut above others?
Our relaxed fit is perfect for holidays yet still tailored enough to be smart. This attention to design, matched by our intricate prints, is something I am really proud of. The LOVE BRAND, understated and elegant print handwriting, reveals hidden narratives of nature and my travels, using print to draw attention to the natural world and endangered species. From afar my prints look like smart geometric patterns, but on closer inspection there are conversational motifs. A diamond pattern is too boring, a print with kites all over it is too obvious but a diamond print, which is actually a squadron of manta rays, this is a LOVE BRAND print.
Furthermore, I believe the brand is better for having a charitable purpose. I believe it is the biggest luxury to be able to give back to the planet and find that the brand holds a special place in people’s hearts when they learn all about our conservation work.
We want to make LOVE BRAND & Co. the ultimate summer lifestyle brand. We are really focusing on sharing our message and purpose. The more people who know about LOVE BRAND & Co., the more we can do to protect wild elephants.
Every year you pick a different charity to partner with. How do you pick your philanthropic causes?
The charity partners always centre on saving wild elephants but we change the partner each year, so we can have an impact on wild elephant conservation around the world. Since day one, LOVE BRAND & Co. has committed a percentage of revenue – not profit – to helping save elephants from extinction. We are proudly part of '1% for the Planet', a movement of businesses supporting environmental solutions. We donate 1% of our company revenue to select wildlife charities. So together we are raising awareness and funds for elephant conservation.
Since the beginning we have worked with some of the most wonderful charities around the world and it is important to note we don’t just donate but rather we become actively involved in promoting their work, visiting their sanctuaries and using our platform as much as possible for their overall benefit.
This year we are supporting the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and their incredible Orphans’ Project. To date, the SWT’s Orphans' Project has successfully raised 260 orphaned elephants that have lost their mothers due to poaching, human-wildlife conflict, habitat loss and drought. The project focuses on rescuing and raising milk-dependent baby elephants, hand-rearing them at their orphanage before gradually introducing them to a wilder environment from which they can safely reintegrate back into the wild at their own pace. Through their careful rehabilitation programme, each elephant is lovingly looked after by a team of dedicated keepers who act as surrogate family members.
Do you have a motto/mantra by which you live?
Carpe Diem: Seize the Day – or someone else will!
Any other phobias or fears?
I'm happy with spiders, snakes and sharks but heights get me every time.
What is your dream car?
A beaten-up defender with no roof that I can just throw my kit in, drive down to the beach in, and jump out of.
How would you like to be remembered?
Life is about what you put in. It’s about contributing in a meaningful way. I hope people will remember my contribution, when I am finished. Alongside that I would love to be remembered as someone who loved life.
Who would you call if you were in trouble?
My wife, Rose. She is always good in a crisis.
Who is your hero/heroine?
David Attenborough for bringing the natural world to the silver screen so brilliantly; Richard Branson for his entrepreneurialism and inspiring me to start my own business, and Dame Daphne Sheldrick for her pioneering work in conservation with a very special story.
Since day one, LOVE BRAND & Co. has committed a percentage of revenue – not profit – to helping save elephants from extinction.
Biggest achievement to date?
Our three children, the third being LOVE BRAND & Co.!
Give three words that best describe you
Optimistic, a little bit crazy and loving.
Last meal on Earth?
Impossible question. I am huge foodie so it would have to be a buffet of all my favourite meals; although I hate buffets.
I am addicted to blue.
If you could have a super power what would it be?
To change the weather at the click of a finger.
Who would you most like to see wearing your shorts?
Leonardo Di Caprio, a favourite actor and another wildlife conservation hero. However, saying that, the buzz I get whenever I see anyone wearing our shorts is amazing. Seeing someone wearing and enjoying something you have designed is really special.
Beer or champagne?
Beer every time.
Night out, night in?
Night in. But you have to mix it up.
I wish we could all reverse time slightly and I think many would choose to start working on saving the planet years before it became a mainstream concern.
Favourite film/TV series?
I am a huge film buff. I wanted and still want to finish writing the film screenplays I started one day. I have always been loyal to feature films and less to series but my wife and I watched The Last Kingdom on Netflix during lockdown!
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
To live in the moment.
Most precious possession and why?
I don’t really obsess over possessions.
Where in the world would you most like to visit?
I would love to go to Rwanda on the gorilla trails. The scenery is dramatic, and the gorillas are majestic. This would be a dream trip. I would then finish the trip with a stay at Jacks Camp in Rwanda.
If you had a time machine, would you travel back in time or visit the future?
Back in time. I like the future as a mystery, but I wish we could all reverse time slightly and I think many would choose to start working on saving the planet years before it became a mainstream concern. If there had been the energy and desire that there is now 40 years ago, I don’t think the situation would be quite as urgent. Even when I started the brand 10 years ago, dedicating your band to the environment and conservation was quite out there.
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