A letter from the founder
“Hello and welcome to the world of biodiversity! I am excited to share with you a short story about who I am, why I founded Niche, and why we do what we do.“
Start of Niche
Niche has been many years in the making and is far more than just a business. It is the culmination of almost 15 years of learning and professional experience, coupled with a deep affinity for the natural world, and, my childhood fascination with wildlife. I am originally from Dartford, Kent, where I studied at Hadlow College as a means of switching careers from plumbing to the environmental sector.
My career started with plants, working part-time in a garden center where I gained valuable practical experience and insight into the running of a business that was intrinsically connected to the environment. It was here that I began to explore my creativity and problem-solving skills, designing hypothetical products and solutions to problems in an industry I found to be painfully traditional, unsustainable, and unambitious. After a brief spell volunteering with the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) in Scotland and Tanzania (where I met my wife), I relocated to Liverpool and took up a job in the grounds maintenance industry.
I was fortunate enough to enter this industry at almost the perfect time. Significant industry change was underway, funding was diminishing, social value demands were increasing and an awareness of environmental issues and the need to address them was growing. I carved out my road almost instantly, securing sponsorship to study a degree in Ecology and Conservation whilst applying my learning to the world of grounds maintenance and landscaping. I developed an obsession for solitary bees and an interest in invertebrates after attending a talk by George Pilkington, something you will see is at the very heart of the Niche Habitat product range.
I was given many early opportunities to showcase sustainable thinking, including the design and construction of a gold medal-winning show garden at the Southport Flower Show in 2014. The recycled garden we built titled ‘Reuse to enthuse’ hosted a privileged visit from the world-renowned, David Bellamy. I was fortunate to meet him at a time when his incredible lifelong career was coming to an end and mine was just beginning.
Whilst completing my degree, my employer became the largest supplier of landscape services in Europe and I worked the majority of my 10 years of employment within the business development department, using my bid-writer’s pen as a tool for progressive change at every opportunity. I worked on projects spanning the full breadth of sectors including local authority, education, health, defence, highways, social housing, and private. The final three years were possibly the best, taking on the role of UK Sustainability Programme Manager, and working with my counterparts in Europe to create a Sustainability Strategy for addressing a variety of issues spanning social and environmental topics. I must say we had it coming at us from every direction as the demand for sustainability and biodiversity advice increased exponentially during my time at the company.
This new era of sustainability and biodiversity is what paved the way for Niche. Having a deep understanding of landscape creation and maintenance industries, alongside applied ecology and sustainability experience positioned me perfectly for being a changemaker. I wanted to establish a company that would be free to challenge the status quo, utilising creative approaches, and knowledge of ecology, to help get more biodiversity into our towns and cities, whilst bringing people closer to nature.
Niche follows in the footsteps of many pioneering people and organisations who have long championed the principles and interventions that we now find ourselves involved with. Many of the habitat solutions offered by Niche are inspired by years of observing and enjoying the work of those who are truly trailblazing in the biodiversity space. George Pilkington’s legendary solitary bee nest boxes were a catalyst for my obsession with solitary bees, wasps, and other invertebrates since I first received one in 2015. Green and Blue’s beautiful bee posts inspired me to first start drilling holes for bees back in 2014, and John Little of the Grass Roof Company, who is a revolutionary for the landscape industry in more ways than one, has shown me the art of possible when it comes to integrating habitat into infrastructure. I credit all of these people and others who have paved the way for me to join the movement by founding Niche.
I invite you to join us too.