Pet hedgehog led to business, mission for Johsonville family
JOHNSONVILLE, S.C. – What started out as owning a household pet led to a clothing line with a mission for Johnsonville residents Kellie and Jeffrey Warren.
Their mission is to rescue hedgehogs and educate people about them.
Kellie was looking for a kitten for her son C.J. one day in 2016 when she saw that someone was looking to get rid of a hedgehog on Facebook. Kellie, who said she always wanted a pet hedgehog, talked her family into getting him.
Kellie was excited for the opportunity to finally get a hedgehog and asked her son if he’d be OK with a hedgehog rather than a kitten. CJ told her, “For you mom, we can get a hedgehog.”
They named the hedgehog Forrest.
Kellie began noticing that hedgehogs were animals that were in need of help because people couldn’t take care of them. That was where the company Life on the Hedge began. The family began selling shirts to support hedgehog rescue and to raise awareness about them.
The company started in their Johnsonville residence and they ran out of room for the business quickly, Kellie said. They were making bracelets and shirts and meeting up with customers to sell the items.
“We were falling over the equipment, we had presses in the kitchen, we had presses in the storage,” Kellie said. “There was stuff in the kids’ rooms; it was way too much.”
Life on the Hedge then moved into a store-front shop in downtown Johnsonville. Kellie and Jeffrey started the company while they both had full-time jobs.
“It’s been a lot of work; it’s not easy,” Kellie said. “Some people might be at the right place at the right time, but it definitely takes a lot of time and tweaking.”
The Warren family has multiple hedgehogs that they have received from people trying to fine new homes for their hedgehogs.They’ve had as many as seven hedgehogs at one time.
Kellie attends various conferences and shows across the country, taking the Life on the Hedge shirts with her. She has also entered her hedgehog Ginnie into shows through the International Hedgehog Association, where she won champion twice and reserve grand champion in the female category.
In these shows, hedgehogs are judged for their temperament, shape and size.
Through taking part in these shows, Kellie and her family developed a passion for helping hedgehogs because a lot of them end up in shelters and there are some common misconceptions about hedgehogs, she said.
“It’s common that people get them and decide they don’t want them,” Kellie said.
Kellie said a lot of people believe hedgehogs are rodents and they spread illnesses, such as salmonella.
Kellie’s mission is to not only support hedgehog rescue, but also to see a new bloodline of hedgehogs brought into the country, which will allow for hedgehog breeders to breed healthier hedgehogs.
“There aren’t many bloodlines in the country because it’s been a long time since new hedgehogs have been brought into the country,” Kellie said. “So, there are a lot of neurological problems happening as a result of this.”
Life on the Hedge donates 10 percent of their profit to hedgehog rescue. The store is at 207 W. Broadway St. in Johnsonville.