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Meet Chris Welles of American Rhino

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Welles.

Chris, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
We took a family trip to Kenya ten years ago and had an amazing experience. Through that trip, we were introduced to the African wildlife and culture and wanted to have a deeper connection.

Our friends in Kenya invited us to participate in an annual event, called the Rhino Charge, that raises money for wildlife conservation and especially the endangered rhino. We have participated in five Rhino Charges and raised over $200,000 through the generosity of our supporters. We are the only American team entered into the Rhino Charge.

Our participation in the Rhino Charge and our success in raising money and awareness for wildlife conservation led to starting American Rhino two years ago. American Rhino’s mission is to preserve African wildlife by funding the most effective and local wildlife conservation organizations across Africa.

American Rhino supports anti-poaching efforts and conservation through the sale of high-quality apparel, bags and footwear. Our products give back to conservation programs in Kenya, create jobs, and impact communities on the other side of the world. We believe our customers play a vital role in conserving the powerful and beautiful wildlife of Africa. 
With every purchase, our customers are supporting the American Rhino Foundation.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Designing and developing our product line with no previous fashion or retail experience has been quite a challenge. Equally challenging has been developing a supply chain in Africa. We produced over 80% of our products on the African continent.

American Rhino – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We design, produce and sell a wide variety of apparel, accessories and home goods. We are known for producing very high-quality products that are uniquely designed and produced in Africa. We donate 10 percent of our profits to supporting conservation of African Wildlife. We have stores on Nantucket and Boston in addition to selling our products on our website americanrhino.com

What sets us apart from tradition brands is our philanthropic mission and our products. We utilize a wonderful Eastern African fabric called a kikoy in all of the products we produce in Africa. The kikoy is 100% cotton and comes in beautiful colors and patterns.

I am extremely proud of the team we have assembled at American Rhino and their commitment to our mission. We have accomplished quite a bit in two years.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Last summer we made our first grant. We provided full uniforms, backpacks and sleeping bags to the “Rhino Rangers”. The Rhino Rangers consist of 40 Rangers that provide security to the Black Rhinos in the Masai Mara Reserve.

The Rangers were so appreciative of the gift and so proud of the work they do in protecting the endangered wildlife. To be able to make the grant on behalf of all of American Rhino customers and supporters was an amazing experience.

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