Susy Paisley-Day

Susy is a curious and cheerful being: an artsy conservation biologist overflowing with ideas and projects. Her business Zoografika creates products for interiors like ornate painted furniture and colourful textiles, celebrating rara and endangered species. She has spent years of her life working for forest conservation in Mexico and Ecuador and studying spectacled bears in the Bolivian Andes, in regions where it was easy to indulge her love for textiles and colour and eclectic outsider art. She has been exploring and living in Kent for the last decade.

A few questions about nice things...

Who do you most admire?

I most admire a tall, kind, white-haired scientist named EO Wilson. I’ve just written him a letter prompted by my two year-old son changing his name from Theo to EO. It felt like writing a letter to Father Christmas I’ve revered him so long! I admire rare NYC bird 91 year-old Iris Apfel for her fabulousness. Likewise my tiny Aunt Jo with her pointy cat-eyed glasses, who was the first woman in North Carolina to get her pilot’s license. Basically, if you have white hair and dance, laugh, bird-watch or knit I am very likely to develop a crush on you.

What are your favourite possessions?

Don’t ask me that! Every time I’ve answered that question I’ve lost the possession within about a day! I remember when I decided it was my trusty leather Vasque hiking boots. No sooner had I articulated the thought then they were swiped from the changing cubicle as I showered at Big Bend National Park in Texas. But the great thing was I realised that no possession matters worth a hill of beans. Having said that I’m terribly sentimental about objects – especially textiles – and hate getting rid of things…

Tell us about your perfect day or weekend...

Going for a run by the sea with my husband and dog; eating a formerly contented chicken from Waterham Farm in a delicious Mexican pipián verde sauce with roast veg; performing goofy tickly polkas with my gorgeous string bean of a daughter Beatrice and delectable toddler Theo; watching wild animals be busy – bees foraging for pollen in my garden or bats flitting up and down as it gets dark. Plaiting my daughter’s amazing ocean of hair (in my fantasy she is miraculously tangle-free and cooing instead of the usual yelps). My husband reading me Dickens. Live music involving ukuleles, freely harmonising voices and/or bongos. Chocolate. Quilts. Then please can I watch the sun go down over the Swale while drinking some local ale – maybe Green Goblin – and eating improbable quantities of salt and vinegar crisps?

What makes you happiest?

Although I can be a stress-head sometimes, I’m basically a very happy person. I realised a few years ago that I am happiest when I am making something. Some calm time with busy hands, even if it’s darning holes in socks, has to be part of my perfect day. Also seeing my parents – neither of them lives in the UK so seeing them is a huge treat (although it’s either one or the other but not both together – a recipe for disaster!).

What would you like to do in the future?

I’d like to make some real if tiny contribution to the conservation of the ludicrous array of creatures still surviving on this planet. The escalating threat of extinction makes me desperate. Orang-utans. Ughh. Even though my training is as a scientist, I’ve decided to try a new approach to making a contribution – using beauty and art to win new people over to the cause. I hope that this added momentum makes a difference.