How did it start?
“You’re fired” was music to Katie’s (Founder & CEO) ears when her boss ended her role in a consultancy that aimed to help others create initiatives by highlighting their strengths (oh the irony).
Prior to leaving she had the idea of Eco Bling (now WILD - THE LIFESTYLE CO.), an accessories label that would upcycle waste and plant trees with profits. Her previous work in conservation had always held a special place in her heart and she knew anyone was capable of making a positive difference in the world.
The day she was fired, Katie packed her desk and went straight to an investor pitching event, created by her friend. To her surprise and armed with a last minute sample (a chuck of wood she found in her backyard that she threaded onto a string) Katie successfully pitched her vision to fund the tools she needed to “improve on this horrible sample” (eternal thanks to Katie Morioka and Paul Cresswell for believing in us!). Reluctant to accept their generousity at first (partly because she didn’t have a clue how to use powertools) this gesture fueled her self-belief and was a constant reminder in tough times that it was an idea worth pursuing.
Fast forward a year, after finishing her psychology degree she moved to a hippie commune (Why? Who knows), then moved to a little rainforest shed which she and her dog, Sir Harrison the Great, called home. Setting up a tent in the backyard as a her “workshop” she spent her days covered in saw dust creating pieces she would sell at her local artisan markets. After several months of selling at the markets Katie knew there was more she needed to do if she was going to have a big impact in the world. She launched her website.
Eco Bling was picked up by several local stockists and although sales were slow on her website it was working. Her stockists seemed to be going well so she targeted her attention to them. Working with others (stockists) to spread the message of Eco Bling and where both parties benefited made Katie happy, it also accelerated brand awareness and sales.
A year passed and she moved into her now home in Eumundi QLD, the artisan village she had her market stall in and where Eco Bling still does pop up shops at from time to time. Upgrading her workshop space from a tent to an open air space under her house (it had a roof, that’s all you need right?) she was happily working away making more and more designs and unleashing her creativity.
Then one day things changed, a lot.
Receiving an email, which at first she wrote off as a scam, was an invitation to show at Eco Fashion Week in Seattle. Not one to shy away from a challenge she said YES. Then came the fear. Having never even been to a runway show before Katie was going in blind. Determined to “get weird” she created massive sculptural pieces that were to inspire her next retail collection.
What happened next was completely unexpected. Her show was ranked the best show on the runway and “the best show in a LONG time” by the founder of Eco Fashion Week, Myriam LaRouche. It was raved about in international media, sparking invitations from clothing designers to collaborate for their next clothing collections. Special mention to interns Catie Friel and Lorin Burns for thriving in the “deep end” and helping make the show what it was.
Since then she has showed at Eco Fashion Week Vancouver, Green Fashion Week in LA and Las Vegas as well as invitations from Jeff Garner, USA-based eco fashion designer for the stars, to collaborate on his Eco Fashion Week Australia show (and invitations to Rome, Milan and London Fashion Weeks!). Who knew this girl from a farm in Central West NSW would be an international fashion designer? She certainly didn’t.
With all of her extra confidence she knew it was time to take on the even scarier stuff. Trade shows. She launched her first trade show collection at Life Instyle in February 2017 doubling her stockists list. Then another in August which tripled it. It was time to move into a real workshop.
Now based in a solar-powered factory in Noosa, Eco Bling has turned into WILD - THE LIFESTYLE CO and is a thriving start-up that has diverted tons of waste (approximately 2 tons) from landfill and planted almost 20,000 trees (and counting) in African food forests and continues to grow in our range. We now sell modern eco furniture, homewares, art, gifts, fashion and accessories as well as creating custom furniture.
Where are we going?
First, WILD would not be where it is (and can not go where it wants to go) without the customers, stockists and supporters it has.
Special mention goes out to...
Sinerji Organic Clothing (our first stockists and mentors)
Kromagnon for the Green Fashion Week invitations
Sally and Tim from Green Cathedral for opening up your factory to me
Our awesome interns, contractors, consultants and staff
Finally, Katie’s family for being open-minded enough to let her just do her thing...
WILD - THE LIFESTYLE CO. plans on growing our Australian and global stockists and becoming THE go-to label for eco furniture, homewares, art, gifts, fashion and accessories. Some of our new collection will be launched at Life Instyle, Stand 2000, 2nd Aug to 5th Aug 2018 (Royal Exhibition Hall) so come along if you can and ask for Katie.
We joke about global domination but you never know what is possible with a little self-belief...