In 2020 Wildling’s going to be 5 years old! Five wild years and it’s hard to believe how much has happened. Five years in which Wildling went from an idea to a company with over 120 people. One pack member who’s been there from the start is Sarah. Today she takes us back to that wonderfully exciting time at the beginning.
I stand on the steps in front of Anna and Ran’s house. Next to me is my husband, who’ll later become the Warehouse Badger; my children are bouncing around the garden with other kids. All of them will come to be part of the Wildling family, but we don't know that yet.
After being at school together and then having been out of touch for a few years, Anna and I have found each other again.
The sun is shining, and holding a cup of the special coffee brewed by Ran we’re shown the first fabric samples and the design of the shoe that is to change everything.
We listen to the story, the idea behind it, letting ourselves get swept up. And immediately a feeling develops that's not easy to describe.
Do you know that feeling when you know that something's going to be big? And not only because the other person is a good storyteller.
Because Anna and Ran inspire people, are enthusiastic, determined, have vision and are a little bit crazy... With the shoes (back then they didn't have a name yet), that feeling was there right away.
And now it’s nearly five years on.
It didn't get really serious until a few months later, when Anna asked me, “Hey, do you fancy doing a bit of customer service?” ... Haha! ... That “a bit” still makes me laugh today... But yes, I did fancy it.
And I think it’s hard to describe how it worked back then.
We “just” did it and I think that’s what makes us different from many, many other companies.
We didn't have THE master plan for how to structure our customer service, which tools to use. It all grew through our day-to-day work. Learning by doing. We tried things out to see what worked for us, and especially what worked for our customers. There was no conventional training or particular briefings... Nothing was imposed on us from above.
The great trust that Anna and Ran placed in us as if it were perfectly normal – that’s something special.
But what was completely clear from the beginning was the goal, the vision, although it wasn’t written down or discussed.
Our customers are at the forefront; we want to create a special connection. Staff – they work from home of course. We didn't yet know the term “new work”, but we were already living it. The staff are something like a family, not mindless employees.
That was clear and obvious to us all from the beginning; it motivated us, guided us in our decision-making. And it made it really easy to follow Anna and Ran's idea and support them.
Perhaps that was one of the reasons why Anna asked me, back then? Because we were in unspoken agreement about it?
Perhaps also because for this job you needed to be spontaneous, be able to grasp things quickly and have 10 arms for tackling everything; you had to be able to swim off into unknown waters, you were pushed in, and so there was lots of intuition and belief in the cause.
But everything was built up around this idea, this vision. Yes, we also had setbacks, there were tears, minefields and also frustration, friction, because people didn't and don’t always have the same opinion. But you know friction also creates energy.
We had lots of fun times. They even included a pink bathrobe, sit-ins at Anna's house to come up with the names of the shoes, although it had already been a long day and things were drifting into silliness. Lace dramas, wrongly placed stitching, blocked lorries. Stories so crazy that you wouldn't be able to make them up. And when we didn't know what to do we tried to see the funny side, to sleep on it and then in the morning to develop new ideas and solutions with a clear head.
I’ll never forget that time at the beginning: my customer service work, shoes in our basement. First one, then two, then a whole load... I’ve been lucky enough to get to know lots of special people, who became companions and friends. Also particular customers, whose names and stories I still know today, remain unforgettable. Gratitude for a special gesture, for a kind word, for understanding, for thinking outside the box. I think all that lives on today in all areas of Wildling.
Those moments that won't be repeated in the same way will stay in our hearts forever. They serve as reminders of a special time, of a little conspiracy, sitting in a den we made ourselves in the forest and nibbling on biscuits, changing the world.
It’s a little bit like when you remember your childhood, moments that remain, which outshine the negative experiences.
I've learnt a lot about myself, about my limits, about my abilities, about people and human relationships.
Wildling gave us an opportunity, but I believe that Wildling also got a little something from us.
Wistful sadness that it’ll never be the same as it was at the beginning – yes there is some of that. Lots has changed; people who were very close have become more distant, ideas have developed further, conditions have changed, Wildling has grown.
But whatever the destination, of my own journey or of Wildling's, I keep in my heart the values that were sown at the beginning. They remain. Then it doesn't matter how big, how different everything is. That’s what gives me energy: living those values and passing them on.
Even if it's no longer customer service, but the large Wildling family I get to look after, to support, for whom our fantastic Team People & Culture and I get to think out of the box and go with the flow.
We continue to collect these moments, store them away and pull them out from time to time to see what we’ve been able to create, to experience.
The community, the feeling of being a family of sisters and brothers from different mothers who let Wildling continue to grow – that works much better with lots and lots of special people. Be wild, be you!