Manatees Are In Fashion:
Margaret Wilds Raises Funds And Awareness Through Her Vintage Clothing Business

Cida the manatee is prepared for release back into the wild.
Margaret Wilds is passionate about manatees and has used her online vintage clothing business to help them. (Image courtesy Margaret Wilds.)
By Nancy Sadusky,
Director of Online Communications

Meet Margaret Wilds, alias Denise Brain. She is an online proprietress of vintage clothing and a professional French horn player, formerly Principal Horn with the Spokane Symphony. But aside from those interesting occupations, Margaret is also passionate about manatees. Over the years, she has raised over $2,000 to help manatees in Florida and Belize.

How did this Washington state resident become so enamored of an endangered species found at the opposite end of the country? "I have championed endangered species since childhood," says Margaret. "I vividly recall first becoming aware of manatees as a little girl, before much publicity was being brought to their plight. I couldn't believe I'd never heard of them before and was fascinated by such awesomely large and perfectly gentle creatures. How could anything so wonderful be at risk of extinction?"

It was a trip to Florida in the year 2000 that cemented the attraction between Margaret and the aquatic mammals she admired. While visiting relatives, she and her husband took a boat tour on the St. Johns River and had the chance to witness a rehabilitated manatee being released back into the wild at Blue Spring State Park. "When this manatee was released into the water, another manatee immediately came up from the bottom of the river and nudged the newcomer, unmistakably like a greeting," she says. "I had tears streaming down my face. I was IN LOVE with manatees!"

Determined to do something to help, Margaret turned to her online business. Since 1999, she has been selling vintage clothing through eBay and Etsy and now at her own web site at denisebrain.com. "I have loved vintage clothes since I collected and wore them in high school," she says. "They combine a sense of history with environmental activism (reuse and recycle), which fits me and my style well."

Margaret witneses a manatee release at Blue Spring State Park.
At a visit to Florida in 2000, Margaret and her husband had the chance to see a rehabilitated manatee being released back into the wild at Blue Spring State Park. (Image courtesy Margaret Wilds.)

Margaret also writes a blog on vintage fabrics and fashions, and it was here that she decided to enlist help from her customers. After contacting the Club to ask how she could help, Margaret wrote about her love for manatees and how she had decided to donate 30% of profits for the month, and she encouraged her customers to contribute. Her efforts paid off. In April, Margaret made a $525 donation to Save the Manatee Club's Emergency Rescue Fund to help manatees who had been affected by red tide. Margaret was then contacted by Katie Tripp, SMC's Director of Science and Conservation, who suggested there was a new need for a tracking box to be used in Belize to help monitor the progress of Twiggy, an orphaned manatee who had been rescued and was being prepared for release. Margaret started a new campaign and was able to raise $795 for the tracking box project! Over the years, Margaret has also made additional donations to Save the Manatee Club, bringing her total to over $2,000.

"I love how Margaret ties her passion for manatees in with her business and uses her customer base to raise awareness for the causes she supports and believes in," says Katie. "We are very thankful for her donations and hope that her actions may inspire other members and supporters to brainstorm ways to leverage support for manatees via their own networks."

Margaret is also pleased with the results of her endeavor on behalf of manatees. "I have had a lot of people write notes to me about their own concern for manatees and eagerness to help Save the Manatee Club," she says. "Whenever I champion manatees through my business or my fundraising efforts, I make new friends and customers and ultimately feel hugely rewarded by the contribution I make to manatee awareness."

Margaret Wilds
Make Manatees A Part
Of Your Business

Do you have a business that could help Save the Manatee Club? We have free posters and educational materials to help raise public awareness. We also have public service advertisements for your business or organizational publications. Contact us at education@savethemanatee.org


Create Your Own Online Fundraising Page!
One of the methods Margaret used for the Belize tracking box campaign was an online fundraising page. You can help manatees by creating your own online fundraising page at Firstgiving. It's free and fun. Just click the green "Start Fundraising" button at the top of the page. You can choose the type of page you want to create, include photos and video, and tell the world why you love manatees. Go>>
(Image courtesy Margaret Wilds.)


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