Dr Zigs Bubbles – An Interview with Paola
Many of us know of the beautiful big Dr Zigs bubbles. The description on Babipur says that Dr Zigs was created in their home and inspired by their son Ziggy’s love for bubbles. The company has developed and grown and even though bubbles alone are wonderful and exciting, Dr Zigs is so much more than this, their environmental, ethical and social values to name just a few.
So come with me and let us delve a little deeper into this bubbly world, as you watch the Dr Zigs story unfold and get a feel for what they stand for and take a peek behind the scenes I hope you will find this as interesting and inspirational as I did.
Thank you to Dr Zigs for taking the time to do this interview with me.
Let me introduce you to Paola who runs Dr Zigs;
Hi Paola thank you for chatting with us. When you were growing up do you remember enjoying playing with bubbles?
Yes, absolutely. I used to make bubbles with my hands using soap in the sink, or at bath time. Hours of fun 😉
As you got older did you have any interest in science or in the creativity of anything in particular?
Yes, I’ve always been interested in science and the natural world, but dyslexia kind of curtailed any academic aspirations – I do now have a degree and a Masters (in Marine Conservation) but I did it topsy turvey, so had my kids first and only started at Uni when my eldest were two and four years old. I’ve also always made things – paintings, pottery, carpentry and weaving.
I read that you were inspired by your son Ziggy’s love of bubbles. Seeing as most children do enjoy bubbles what in particular caused you to be inspired to create bigger and better bubbles based on your sons enjoyment of them?
Ziggy used to get those contagious giggling fits when he saw bubbles. You just want to hear more – just like you have to do ‘just one more’, bigger and better bubble 🙂
Without giving away your secret ingredients of course, can you explain what the process to create bigger better bubbles was like? Were there lots of attempts?
Yes, to get where we are today has been a long journey, and one that we are still on. Our formulation is something that we’re always looking to improve. We have just completed a PhD on our Bubbles, and currently have a Chemistry intern working on some new surfactants.
I am guessing your company is named after your son? What caused you to think of Dr Zigs in particular?
The brand was named after Ziggy, but also inspired by Dr Zoggs Surf Wax it’s a cool outdoor company that also embodies some pretty cool principles.
Other than your family, what inspired you along the way?
My love of nature, of human rights. The Dalai Lama, Jacques Cousteau (ocean explorer), Anita Roddick (founded the Body Shop)
How did the idea and opportunity of bubbles not bombs come about?
I have always been passionate about Peace. My father was a Polish refugee (he also went on to fight with the SOE and was helped to set up the Advertising Trading Standards), but the war and the impact on my family have marked my life. I have always written letters for Amnesty and at 17, when I first arrived in London after leaving home in Italy I used to join the anti-apartheid vigils outside South Africa House.
The very first Bubbles Not Bombs initiative was right at the beginning of Dr Zigs, nine years ago now, when I took my family down to London to bubble it up for International Peace Day and against the Arms Fair.
What can you tell us about bubbles not bombs?
That it helps me sleep at night! I need to feel that I’m doing my best to make a difference. Whether it’s helping refugees, raising awareness of issues, working towards equal rights or fighting climate change.
Over the years Bubbles Not Bombs has evolved – from helping orphans in. Kenya on the rubbish tips, or some of the poorest kids in Romania, we then moved on to focus on the growing humanitarian crisis that evolved from the war in Syria. Now we have expanded further. We support our local children’s hospices, our bubbles are used every day in our local kids ward in Ysbyty Gwynedd, we work with dementia patients, we work with kids with Acquired Brain Injury. Climate change is making its own refugees with sea levels rising, extreme weather events and economic meltdowns, and it’s important to me that we help where we can.
We are now an established collection, sorting, packing and distribution centre for aid locally, and we have fed into some 47 containers worth of aid that have been shipped to camps in Syria, Lebanon, Greece and France. Our aid distribution has also had to grow to support local emergency housing issues and the homeless.
We also now work specifically with the Youth Strikes for Climate Change and Extinction Rebellion, climate change is such a growing and urgent matter.
Do you have a favourite special story involving a bubbles not bombs trip away?
Many. Possibly seeing videos of Catrin Wager, (with whom I founded Pobl i Bobl, our local refugee support group), arriving in Lesvos and making bubbles for children literally hours after they were pulled from the sea, and seeing them being able to simply play, to run, jump and pop bubbles, to just be children, after such incredible ordeals.
Also delivering aid, and bubbles to the centre in Calais a couple of weeks ago. The volunteers, the help, the humanity that is present on the ground is so totally inspiring.
How can people get involved in your overseas work either themselves or raising money or awareness?
Buying our bubble toys is the easiest. Around 5% of every purchase goes towards all our Bubbles Not Bombs work. Donate via our gofund me for Exxpedition. We’ll be setting up more fundraising options soon too.
If you are personally travelling out to any areas/camps get in touch!
How often do you get to send a team overseas?
I don’t send teams overseas as such – if I’m travelling I’ll always have the bubbles with me, but mostly it’s about facilitating and enabling. I work with grass-roots organisations, very often these are led by women, and I make sure that the bubbles are going out with named personnel, specific case workers or volunteers. The vast majority of what we do now happens through grassroots and word of mouth.
What is coming up with the bubbles not bombs venture?
Ziggy and I were on the streets last Friday with the General Climate Strike. Dr Zigs was closed for the day so that all our crew could have the opportunity to take part. We’ll be supporting the Extinction Rebellion action in London early next month too. We’re also working on getting the bubbles into some of the camps in the Yemen at the moment. Not an easy task.
What is coming up with the Dr Zigs business?
We’re about to launch our new vegan, palm-oil, phosphate free DOGGIE BUBBLES – peanut butter scented, and made without trace of nuts – so fine for everyone!
I’m off to Paris this week to bubble it up for Paris Fashion Week!
We’re in the Guinness Book of Records!! And we’ve got a full page spread for the most people making Giant Bubbles using our toys, it’s in shops now! (should we do this again next year? We think we should, what do you say?!)
I have also had the HUGE honour of being selected for Expedition. A women only, round the world sailing voyage researching and studying ocean plastics. It’s incredibly exciting, as we will be looking in depth as what is happening with micro plastics across our oceans. It’s women only to celebrate women in STEM and women in exploration – and it’s incredibly appropriate as it’s becoming increasingly evident that micro plastics are particularly damaging to the endocrine system in and women’s hormones.
I will be doing a lot of outreach work about this over the next year, and joining the ship in March – April 2020 in the South Pacific. As part of this we have just launched our #Bubbles Not Balloons campaign against mass release helium balloons, which have been proved to be the biggest single killer of marine birds.
Do watch our social media to find out more!
Is there anything else that you would like to share?
That we LOVE working with Babipur!! Being able to work with a local company that shares the same values and that is also striving, and being an agent of change is inspiring and totally fitting. AND being able to share our bubbles and story with amazing women and parents and kids. Together we can change the world 🙂
Thank you so much Paola for sharing your story and journey with us. We really appreciate it and consider it an honour to be part of the ongoing outreach through the amazing Dr Zigs bubbles.
Remember to check out Dr Zigs on Babipur >here<
Interview by Jo Le Page.