HLN meets: Lisa Willis at Born Wild Children’s Clothing
In a world of fast-fashion, Lisa at Born Wild has taken a stance against ‘disposable’ clothes. She tells us about how she weaves love into every item and her must-have personalised PJs for Christmas
By Helen Bowman
How did Born Wild come about?
I’m a trained secondary school teacher – a career that I loved for so many years. But when we had children, my priorities changed and I really wanted to find work that would fit around our newfound home life. Born Wild came about when I fell in love with sewing at a workshop to make Christmas stockings. I was on maternity leave at the time and the workshop ignited an undiscovered passion in me. For the first time ever, I found myself sat behind a sewing machine and there was no stopping me!
I started by making my own children some clothes, making more Christmas stockings and some blankets for gifts. I received incredible feedback and sewing became a part of my life. So many friends told me I should start selling the things I was making; I was seriously flattered, but it wasn’t something I’d ever considered. But now I love every single part of the process, from choosing fabrics and patterns to tying the bow on the finished garment. I get such a buzz from knowing that every item of clothing I make is leaving on a little adventure of its own – to help other families make precious memories and be handed down to younger children to continue that adventure.
The whole thing is now a family affair. My children are my team! Isobel and Hugo help me choose the fabrics, give their input on colours and designs and they place the final ‘seal of approval’ stickers on every order before it leaves HQ.
Tell us about the clothes you design and make.
Our clothing is all made from high-grade, organic materials (or OEKO-Tex 100), meaning it’s safe for babies and children, even from birth, and that harmful chemicals and substances are not present in the fabric used. We love to work with jersey material because it’s not only soft and comfortable, but it’s also flexible and hard-wearing, which is essential for adventurous little ones. Our fabrics wash and wear well – my kids are testament to that!
As a family, we have been working to become more sustainable, making small changes which will make a big difference. Clothing is one of the changes we feel passionate about. Fast fashion is having such an impact on the environment and we want to be a part of the drive against that.
One of our most recent commissions is the most adorable personalised Christmas Eve pyjamas for twins due on the 9th December. They are teeny-tiny and have been personalised with their names. We can make clothes for any size, from newborn onwards, and have even been known to make an adult twirly skirt or two. This year we have made some full-family matching pyjama sets, which look fabulous in our Christmas materials. We’re delighted to know Born Wild will be part of so many magical memories.
What the reality of being a small business?
We actually work with a network of home businesses, all supplying each other. We’re all small, independent businesses – often a mum designing between school drop-offs. The patterns and threads we use all come from brands we find on social media and we source our bespoke print fabrics from small UK suppliers. We’re a small network putting food on each other’s tables. Often the designer who creates a bespoke design for me buys their children clothes made with their designed fabric. It’s like we’ve formed our own sustainable eco-system.
What about your signature rainbow stitching?
Every item of clothing from Born Wild is finished with a rainbow stitch. It’s our way of weaving love into every garment. We really focus on quality at every stage. We spend hours going through every design, cutting the fabric, sewing the pattern and applying the finishing touches before orders arrive at their new homes. I also make a keepsake keyring for mum or dad (or to give as a gift) made from the same fabric as every item of clothing, that I send out with each order. So many memories are built around the clothes we wear and we wanted to give something which could be kept in a memory box.
What’s your stance on gender-specific clothing?
It was only once I had children of my own that I realised how gender-specific children’s clothing was. Boys’ clothing was all roars and dinosaurs, while little girls could only find pink, pretty and sweet. Those stereotypes just didn’t fit with my children at all!
My little girl Isobel is wild and wonderful, she is daring and brave and has adventurous blood running through her veins, but she still loves unicorns and rainbows. So it was important for me to embrace all aspects of her personality in the fabrics I chose. I love bold and bright colours; the high street is filled with dull, uniform colours. I wanted to break the trend and I know there are lots of other parents like me, looking for fun and non-stereotypical clothing for their children.
What have you got on offer this Christmas?
This year we have the most fabulous 2020 Christmas range. Inspired by the icon of the 2020 rainbow, we had a fabric designer create bespoke designs for us. Our rainbow tartan takes a unique twist on the traditional Christmas tartan – integrating a rainbow of colour which really brings the tartan to life. Then we have our rainbow stripe material, which features big rainbow stripes overlaid with Christmas trees. This is one of Isobel’s favourite designs. Hugo loves the Snowman fabric and, of course, the snowman has his very own rainbow scarf.
To complete the 2020 Christmas material range, we have: ‘Driving Home For Christmas’, featuring the Little Tykes car driving a Christmas tree home; ‘Christmas Gingerbread’ with a range of Christmas doodles; and ‘Cheeky Robin’. All our gorgeous Christmas fabrics can be made into a choice of personalised pyjamas, twirly skirts, dinky dungarees or pinafore dresses.
Our personalised pyjamas have been so popular this year. We stitch the name of the child or their initials into the pyjama top and the bottoms can be either harem style or straight leg, in a choice of any of our Christmas fabrics. The beauty of our pyjama bottoms is they double up as trousers that can be worn through the day. They’re super comfy and great for playing.
Twirly skirts are our all-time best seller – they’re perfect for everything from a dolls’ afternoon tea party to jumping in muddy puddles with wellies. Fitted with secret pockets, our twirly skirts can be used to collect and store treasures discovered throughout the day. We have recently made matching parent/child Christmas twirly skirts for twinning on Christmas Day.
Finally, we offer Born Wild gift vouchers to buy for friends and family. Parents and children can then choose their own designs, sizes and personalisation options right into the New Year.
How can our readers order from Born Wild?
People can order either via our Etsy page or via Instagram @bornwild.childrenswear. Our customers tell us they love the personalised touch of ordering through Instagram. We can discuss sizes and preferences, and the customer journey is so much more personal. Just one of the things lacking on the high street, and even more so with traditional online shopping. We love it when our customers tag us on social media too – we can really see our creations come to life in their new homes