May 9, 2016

Born to be a Wildfang: Bamboo Spark and Relentless Hustle

Swings, carving walls and sprinkles of the color green bring the Wildfang retail space in Portland to life. These touches of whimsy make the space comfortable and collaborative, and showcase a dedication to detail that is part of the brands secret sauce.

Most of the store is custom and made to move with the events that the Wildfang crew holds often. What makes someone a Wildfang? A touch of tomboy, a bit of sass and a large dash of confidence. Wildfang is more than a retailer of clothes – it’s a movement dedicated to women, created by women. Founder and CEO Emma McIlroy explains, “We don’t mind if you just stop by the store to say hi and have a Pabst beer with us. We know that you’ll remember us later, and recommend us to friends. The name of the game is longevity and we’re here to stay.”

Relentless Hustle

Relentless hustle is the name of the game for this dedicated entrepreneur.  When asked how she took a business idea and turned it into a success, McIlroy answered simply: focus on core competencies. “At Wildfang, do three things really well: content, collaboration and stores. We create quality blogs, viral campaigns and imagery by listening to our customer’s conversations and watching for trends. We can pivot quickly with partners because our small team is nimble, allowing us to create new lines as inspiration strikes. We can make a store come to life faster and on a tighter budget than others because we utilize our community to create the space.” McIlroy’s palpable confidence transfers to her unstoppable team. Wildfang started with the flicker of inspiration that two women (McIlroy and her co-founder Julia Parsley) had when they were out shopping and couldn’t find clothes that suited their style or fit.

The dynamic duo knew they couldn’t be the only people interested in tomboy chic, and their market research backed up their impression. Since that day, Wildfang has grown into a team of 21, expanded to two retail fronts and gained worldwide distribution on their popular e-store, featuring a blog dedicated to the feminist in all of us. To keep moving forward, Wildfang staff continually refine their workflow “We believe in the power of analog. Most of our brainstorms are done that way. You can’t build a brand without something tangible,” explained McIllroy when asked about the usefulness of Bamboo Spark for a business on the go. “We can share notes and sketches from the road, or simply from the other store,” she continued. Taralyn Thuot, Wildfang’s Creative Director, chimed in, “We are creating so much content and we need to stay organized. With Bamboo Spark, I can make shot lists or sketch looks quickly and share with the touch of a button. This is crucial with tight timelines and a small team. There is no time to waste.”


From inception, the Wildfang crew knew that social media and partnerships were going to be an important part of building a brand. “A lot of our content is actually consumer street style,” says Thuot. “Some of our best ideas have come from taking something that a Wildfang friend has shared and turning into something that anyone can wear.” This inclusive nature is working, and in turn the name Wildfang is spreading rapidly. McIllroy and team continue to focus on community, “We’ve been fortunate with ambassadors. They come from many walks of life, and all of our relationships are true and organic.” Whether a soccer player like Megan Rapinoe or a rock star like Janelle Monae, or a Wildfang at heart, all are welcome to sit in the Wildfang club.
To shop Wildfang, click here.

To purchase or learn about Bamboo Spark, click here.

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