Adriane Duckworth lives in Hamilton in the Canadian province of Ontario, where she was born and raised. She is the happy mom of two adorable little boys: Benjamin (5 years old) and Sawyer (who will soon turn 3). She also happens to be the amazing business woman and artist behind the kids clothing and accessories line “The Wild Kids Apparel”. I met this incredibly generous woman a few years ago through Instagram. I was immediately drawn to her distinctively graphic, black and white aesthetics, to the world she had created around nature and animals, and to her work ethic (everything is handmade). My son started wearing her clothing line. And apparently he’s not the only one! Even though the business has barely reached its 2 year mark, some of her designs may already seem familiar to you. Celebrities such as Tori Spelling, Hilary Duff, Rachel Bilson or Jaime King have been dressing their kids with t-shirts and onesies printed with her characters: Finn the Fox, William the Walrus or Marlowe the Mermaid, to name a few.
Tell us about The Wild… How did you get started ?
It all started 5 years ago when I had my first son. I created a few characters for his wall, and in my spare time I drew more, and just really fell in love with these little animals. I wanted to find a way to share them with the world, and baby/kids clothes and accessories just made the most sense to me. I started by taking a small business course in my community, and the rest is history!!
How does the brand reflect what is important to you ?
All of my illustrations start with pencil and paper. I love to draw, and I don’t tweak my designs digitally. It’s all done by hand. I use eco-friendly inks, and I try to be very conscious of waste when it comes to our packing materials and shipping supplies. We try to keep a small environmental footprint. The look of our brand reflects my love of minimalism. I love all things monochrome, modern, and simple, so everything is in keeping with that.
You partnered with Otherware to create a wooden teething toy and also launched leather mocassins with Le Petit Coco. How do you chose your partnerships ?
We choose them very carefully. I like to work with brands that I truly admire, and I’ve turned many away that just weren’t a good fit. It’s more important to me that I work with people that I respect and that I know I can trust. The handmade part matters a lot. Although there are many companies out there that have moved forward in ethical ways, there are also a lot of small shops out there that are selling items that have been made overseas for a small fraction of the price they are charging. Our business, and the businesses we’ve worked with, are totally above board. It matters so much.
Where do you find your inspiration ?
My children inspire me, and I also draw my inspiration from being outside. We try to spend a lot of time exploring nature, and I think my brand really reflects that.
What was the very first character you drew ?
Pablo the Penguin! He’s one of my absolute favourites because of that. But it changes all the time (ha ha), I have a soft spot for Bob the Grizzly Bear too.
How many pieces do you produce per day ?
It varies a LOT, and some days I’m not producing at all, because I have so many other things to do. But a typical print run is usually a few hundred pieces, and we do several of those a week, give or take.
What was your proudest moment as a business owner ?
Well, before I started I took a small business course that trains people who want to open a business. About a year after completing the program, they asked me to come back to the new class to tell the students my ‘success story’, and that was a pretty amazing day for me.
Do you have any tips for a new small business owner/starter ?
Do something that you are truly passionate about. If I won the lottery tomorrow, The Wild would continue to grow and head in the same direction, because it’s in my heart. If you have that passion, you will make it happen.
Does community and social media play a big role ?
It’s how we have made it this far. Social media has been our number one method of getting the name out there. We decided that forgo paid advertising and instead we connected with moms online, one by one. It took a lot of time (still does) but it’s how we connect directly to our target market in a real way.
Do your kids or husband help out ?
Yes! My kids help me a lot when it comes to creating my animals. I always get their ‘approval’ before launching a new creature. My husband is a huge help. He is my sounding board, he helps me guide the business in the right direction, and he comes to every market that we do. He’s amazing.
How do you handle having your own business and raising your kids ?
Not very well (ha ha) ! It’s a constant, around the clock juggling act. I just try my best and accept the fact that some things will have to wait. Every day I have to manage an ever growing to-do list. The list is never done, and I never get that satisfied feeling of being caught up.
What keeps you sane ?
Every now and then I put all of my work away, my phone away, and I just hang out with my kids. That time is everything to me. It totally keeps me sane.
What gift from your shop would you give/advise to a brand new mama-to-be ?
I would say one of our onesies (any one of them because they are all unisex!) and a coordinating soft toy. Our animals are high contrast which is perfect for babies fresh little eyes. Hold one of our animals up to a tiny baby and you will see a reaction!
Can you give us 3 others small brands for babies and toddler that you like ?
Oh gosh, there are so many. But some of the best ones are MyMila, Mushybooks, and Charlie & Gus.
You can now find The Wilds Kids Apparel in 60 retailers across North America (Scout, Revolution Kids, Pretty Grit…) For more information www.thewildkidsapparel.com