The past few months have been especially tumultuous, and they have left their mark on Wildling as well. Today, we sit down with founder Anna Yona over a virtual cup of tea to reflect on the year behind us and to take a look at the things we want to achieve together going forward.
But first things first: Anna, tell us, how is Wildling doing now?
So 2020 hasn’t exactly been my favorite year, and what started out as a sprint with action steps we were able to implement quickly has now turned into something of an endurance race. That said, I do believe that this whole thing has brought us even closer together as a team – everyone pitches in to help each other and there’s always a sense of understanding when sometimes the most we can pull off is the bare minimum. Overall we’ve become more patient with each other on a lot of fronts.
It’s unfortunate that we haven’t all been able to meet in person for so long. Wildling is missing that. We’ve tried to compensate for that with virtual coffee dates and more frequent digital meetings, and it’s exciting to see the new formats that have materialized. But I wouldn’t mind seeing us return to a new, re-examined normal.
And how did things look from a business perspective? Did you run into any bottlenecks?
We were extremely fortunate in that everything went reasonably well. In other words, although there were frequent disruptions in our supply chains and certain materials were unavailable, those things never occurred with multiple suppliers at the same time. Nevertheless, there were times when we didn’t have sufficient quantities of goods at the right time. That does have an impact, of course, but on the whole we can say that Wildling is still doing well financially, and we can keep going – that’s important.
Where do things go from here? How is Wildling evolving?
Exciting things are happening all the time since the team is always questioning the status quo and exploring areas where we can become even more sustainable and where we can give back even more. The industry is also undergoing continuous development right now. As an example, we now have the possibility of processing 100% recycled cotton and using it for our shoes. We also recently submitted the B Corp assessment survey and are one step closer to certification. So there’s always something new in the works.
In fact, there's a new team at Wildling – Positive Impact. What's the story behind that?
Again this year we’ve been working towards honing the vision and purpose of Wildling and looking to where we want to go. The guiding principle originates with our product, the shoe, which in itself can have a positive impact on how we feel when we’re walking, on how much we enjoy moving, and on our health. But we want to broaden this positive influence to touch all of the areas we impact – to people, to the environment, and even to the way we do business. In short, we want to get to the point where, whenever we do something, these areas – people, planet, and profit – are a little bit better off than they were before we started. That would be a positive impact.
Let's let Anna give us a few examples to explain this a little more concretely:
Are there any projects currently underway through which Wildling is making a positive impact?
Right now we’re in the process of selecting projects that we would like to support and hammering out some specific ideas. One partner company with whom we’ve been able to make an immediate contribution is the Peetzig farmstead, the farm where we source the hemp straw for our hemp-flax fleece. The original idea was to plant flower strips there. That project has now blossomed into an entire six-acre bee pasture, for which Wildling provided the seeds. The Peetzig farm has planted the seeds and soon a whole new habitat will spring up there.
We are also in the process of creating our own warehouse garden at the warehouse in Engelskirchen. The team came up with the idea, and it’s a great one because for one thing, it provides some counterbalance for the staff on site. And on top of that, we can actually grow food there. Down the road when team events are permitted again, we can use what we harvest to make a salad for the buffet, for instance.
These small efforts are often the ones that really move the needle in the end. And that's just the beginning: next year will be very exciting in terms of implementing great partnerships and a lot of active engagement.
This video gives us a chance to find out more about the bee pasture and the new warehouse garden:
We're looking forward to an exciting new year and want to say thank you for 2020!
Cover image: Wildling Shoes/Sandra Dienemann