nikki tibbles and lenny, smith, tia, ronnie and gina

Flowers are her work, dogs are her life. Meet the florist on a mission to help combat the world's 600 million stray dog population.

Words: Simon Glazin                   Pictures: Rachel Oates

Nikki Tibbles has one of those ‘OMG’ houses. With every step, there’s something else to gawk at and gush over. Super sized floral print wallpaper, a massive and impressive collection of pottery, fabulous artwork covering most wall space, a figure of a deer perched on a kitchen worktop, to name a few standout features.

One thing is for sure… Nikki has impeccable taste. You only have to look at her uber successful floristry business – Wild At Heart - to know this. If you’ve walked past Liberty of London and stared at the flowers outside the main entrance, that’s Nikki. If you’re one of the thousands of people to Instagram that magnolia tree at Bicester Village, that’s Nikki.

Wild At Heart is one stylish business. And Nikki knows ‘fashion’ too. Walking through her walk-in wardrobe to get to her bathroom, I spotted at least three vintage Chanel jackets. And the sparkly boots in these pictures? They’re Saint Laurent.

But Nikki isn’t interested in spending money on herself anymore. Her amazing dog-rehoming charity – Wild at Heart Foundation – is where her money goes. “I’d rather go and neuter 300 dogs than buy a Chanel bag!” she tells me. And that’s exactly what she did on a recent trip with the foundation to Puerto Rico (read more about it on the blog here).

It’s Nikki’s pure selflessness that makes her an inspiration. She has no less than five rescue dogs at home, with another two on the way to England in the next couple of months. Each dog came from terrible beginnings, to a new, wonderful life living with Nikki. It’s engrained in her to care for dogs: “I’ve never not had a dog. I rescued one when I was at university. I used to take him to lectures with me!”

She has spent years tirelessly campaigning to re-home dogs, and to help the 600 million stray dog population around the world. Flowers are her work, dogs are her life. The stories she tells as we photograph her at home are both endearing and frightening (read below about the stories of her five rescues), and with every sentence that comes out of Nikki’s mouth, makes me want to re-home five pooches just like her.

Scroll on to see more of Nikki and her amazing dogs, and hear all about Wild at Heart Foundation. 

On life with her five rescue dogs, and a bit about them: They mean the world to me, my life would be a very different place without them. I went out to meet a Spanish charity and I rescued the dogs that have been in the shelter the longest with the most problems, so I brought home Lenny, Smith and Tia. Lenny was thrown down a well and left to die aged six months, Smith spent three years of his life locked in a cage and Tia was found caught in a trap and as a result has no tail. I re-homed about another 20 dogs from Spain to various friends. I then rescued Ronnie from the amazing Anca in Romania, @anca_miki on Instagram, who we work with. His mother was decapitated in front of her litter of puppies. It was here that I met Nadine who rescued Bally, Ronnie’s brother. Finally Gina came to live with me, she was also rescued in Romania by Anca.

On work (Wild At Heart): I love that it’s creative, I love working with flowers, I love the people I work with, I love the events we do, places, creativity, colour … it’s my medium of creativity as opposed to painting or writing.

About Wild At Heart Foundation: The foundation came about as I feel fortunate to have Wild at Heart, and I feel everyone in this world should give something back. I’m lucky enough to be in a situation where I can give back, so that’s what I did, and I was fortunate enough to meet Nadine, my wonderful cofounder of Wild at Heart Foundation, who asked me what it was I wanted to do with the charity and that’s how the foundation was born.

Our aim is to reduce the 600 million stray dog population through spaying and neutering campaigns and education. We want to identify and work with and support and raise awareness of existing charities all over the world. This is how we believe we can make a greater difference.

We re-home approximately 15-20 dogs a month, 450 in total to date, from all over the world. This is very much the icing on the cake but incredibly rewarding and satisfying. We’re a new charity, so it’s important that we raise funds which will help us with our clinics and education. With support from so many people we’ve been able to do so much so soon. We’ve had such incredible support from our amazing PR company, TRACE. With their boundless kindness and support in increasing awareness of the Wild at Heart Foundation.

"Being passionate about something and enjoying what you do enables you to give something back to the world."

                                                                                Click this picture to buy one of the amazing Wild At Heart Foundation sweatshirts, designed by Black Score's Simeon Farrar

                                                                                Click this picture to buy one of the amazing Wild At Heart Foundation sweatshirts, designed by Black Score's Simeon Farrar

On her daily routine: Every single day is different, sometimes I’m up at 4am sometimes 8am. I walk my dogs, I go to meetings, I’m travelling a lot with work, I go to the country, I walk my dogs in the park or on Hampstead Heath during the week and at weekends we go for long walks in the country and along the beach. No day is the same, I could be in meeting after meeting, or on an install for a fabulous wedding or another amazing event.

On career advice: Follow your heart, do what makes you happy.

On her favourite story about one of the foundation's re-homed dogs: A friend adopted Jeffery, a Poodle cross, from the Foundation for her family and he has helped her children with their confidence and their reading and writing - they write stories about him and they read him stories every night before bed. He walks them to school and picks them up at the end of every day… he has changed their lives! It’s wonderful to see. They’ve now adopted another poodle cross from us, Dolly, she joined the family a month ago. 

On her creativity:  I think it comes from being passionate about something and enjoying what you do and being happy enough to have found something in life that is fulfilling and enables you to give something back to the world.

On what breed of dog she'd be: I’d be a mix of all things obviously, I’d be a lucky street dog.

Her life motto: The most important thing in anyone’s life should be kindness and compassion to everyone, people and animals.