Jes McKay Gilmore is the creator of Species Spectrum, a social business that spreads awareness of animal rescue through products such as greeting cards, pendants and photography prints. Here, we dig deeper into how the company started and what keeps this social entrepreneur creating.
Four Questions with Jes McKay Gilmore
1. How did the idea for the business model come about?
I designed the logo in college and sat on it for a few years. Having worked with many animals, I wanted to create a business that showcased the faces of rescue and sanctuary animals in a creative, positive useful product. Knowing people sometimes feel too uncomfortable to visit an animal shelter, that there are many small non-profits and that animals of all kinds are in need, I started photographing them and sharing their stories with Species Spectrum Greeting Cards.
2. How did you decide to join this sector?
Previously, I'd worked and volunteered with an animal shelter. I had a general idea of creating greeting cards, but knew they had to be good. After a casual conversation with someone in the paper business, she made a few suggestions in regards to designing and branding. One snowy day I created the first greeting card of Enzo, an adopted Italian Greyhound and wrote the caption "The real mountain is within you." That card is still one of the best-selling designs!
3. How do you get your inspiration?
I've always been attracted to social entrepreneurship. Animals and designing are two of my top interests.
Having met and photographed every animal featured in Species Spectrum helps me see what I have created. I want people to have to think about animal rescue as well. I also want to acknowledge the people providing sanctuary to wild animals and others that cannot return to the wild. My inspiration is meeting the animals! Like Manny, the rescue iguana from San Francisco, and Louise, the miniature pot bellied pig who is no longer so miniature, or Holly, a shelter horse in New Mexico. I've spent two hours photographing one Llama.
When I was photographing re-homed parrots, a little Amazon parrot named Chester was watching me photograph another parrot and she said "What'cha doing?" It is a privilege to meet these animals. People often say '"I wish I could do something to help all the animals." That is what Species Spectrum is about.
I also love reading about social entrepreneurship and other people's projects and businesses.
4. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
Step away from the computer, get outside, go for a hike with dogs or visit with a friend! Do yoga. Right now, I am helping to walk/train a young foster dog who is still awaiting her forever home. Sometimes I bake. Sometimes it is suggested I avoid coffee. Always, I make lists and read.