These Aces interviews are every bit as fun for me as I hope they are for you. The essence of them lie in the fact that I want to share these incredible people I've come across with you - so how could it not be a blast every time? Emma McIlroy of Wildfang (German for 'tomboy') closed out the Create + Cultivate Portland conference I attended last month with a keynote talk outlining how she and her team have created a whole community for the tomboy lifestyle on the site and beyond. I was riveted.
It seemed like there was a site or blog for literally every style known to mind, yet I couldn't think of anything quite like Wildfang. I was fascinated by how Emma, co-founder Julia & team took the marketing, branding & hustling skills they'd honed at Nike and spun it into an e-commerce site that attracted a healthy first round of funding and thousands of loyalists in a matter of months. All of this amazingness just three hours south in Portland! I asked Emma to share a little about herself and about Wildfang with all of you fine Fresh Jess readers. Enjoy!
Tell us about Wildfang.
We think tomboy is much more than just a style. It’s also an attitude. It’s about being confident, strong and paving your own way. While also being cheeky and knowing how to have fun. We don’t think our girl has ever been allowed to be herself and be her best. She's been restricted and held back for years. She hasn’t had access to the clothes and tools and sources of inspiration to allow her to be who she wants to be. That’s where Wildfang comes in.
We will free her. We will fuel her.
This isn't a business for Jules and I - it's a labor of love. We are the consumer. We share her frustrations. We wanted to do it, so that it was done right.
What inspired you to create Wildfang?
I remember the first time we had the idea. We were in the men’s department at a well-known store and I was looking at a men’s graphic tee which had a barely clad Kate Moss on the front. Jules was staring at a men’s blazer with patches on the elbows. I remember her looking at me and saying “Why don’t they make this shit for us?” And I couldn't answer her. We thought about it a lot, did a ton of consumer research and fast forward three years later - here we are. Launching Wildfang.
What are you most proud of about Wildfang so far?
I'm proud of our team. In five months we've built an online store, an offline store, a product collection and attracted the attention of thousands of young women as well as some awesome media. It's been amazing to watch girls get excited about our brand and feel like they belong at Wildfang. The support we've received has been overwhelming.
What's on your playlist right now?
The new David Bowie album
and honestly, there's probably some Rolling Stones on there too
Describe your style.
My style is a lot like what you'd expect if you let Patti Smith lose in Keith Richards wardrobe.
Who inspires you?
People who take risks and are laser focused on their consumer. They don't follow the status quo and they do what feels right. Richard Branson is a hero for me.
What are you reading?
I'm currently addicted to Orange is the New Black, but I think everyone is. I'm also reading Triumph of the City. Awesome book.
What are you most excited about in the coming months?
I'm psyched about launching our Wildfang product collection. I'm so excited to see Wildfangs everywhere proudly rocking our gear.
Thanks Emma for the interview, and thank you Wildfang for being so fucking awesome!