Beth Dickson brings elements of the wild into her designs for conscious lifestyle brand Wilde The Label.
Beth Dickson’s contemporary yet earthy and elemental designs are inspired by the environment and also strive to protect it through the use of natural dyes and fabrics, and the brand’s alliance with One Tree Planted.
Launching her own textile business has been a long-held dream for Dickson who together with husband Brad invested some of their life savings into the business, which launched with a small collection in November 2020. Covid-19 threw up a few curve balls but the Tauranga couple decided to press on with the plan.
Beth has travelled the world with her career in textiles, working in interiors and fashion. She completed her Textile Degree BA Hons in the UK and has worked as a buyer, product developer and designer since graduating in 2007.
Seeing first-hand the effects of pollution through mass production in China was a catalyst to do things differently.
“The smog in the sky was so dark, thick and grey, you couldn’t see any blue sky or sunlight,” she recalls. “Chemical dyeing and printing (the effects this has on the workers’ health) chemical and fabric waste and how workers are treated/their working conditions and how much they work… I really wanted to focus on a product and brand that was the complete opposite.
“Unfortunately the worldwide industry standard dyeing process involves a mass variety of nasty chemicals, which are toxic and draining to the environment. These use more energy, more water and produce more waste. The entire process has direct and distressing impacts on aquatic life; soil damage, global warming and let’s not forget how harmful this is to the workers.”
Wilde’s natural dyeing process requires minimal amounts of water, no chemicals, salt or acids and products are air-dried and then pressed. This mindful process means the dye vat can be recycled as many times as possible.
“We use natural non-toxic dyes. No harsh chemicals or processes are used. Sometimes natural elements such as spices, plants, bark and soil are also used in our dyes,” Beth explains. “Because of the nature of our natural dyes and the hand-block printing process, colour, pattern and printing variations and imperfections are to be expected and celebrated. This is why we love our product – no two are exactly alike, and each piece has been lovingly and carefully made from start to finish by an entire community of specialised artisans.”
Of course choosing natural fibres was a no-brainer for Beth. “Not only are they more sustainable but they feel beautiful and wear well. They get better with age,” she says.
The symbols or graphics for Wilde the Label are designed and drawn by Beth, then emailed to India where they are traced by block carvers onto Rhodia wood and carved/chiselled into a stamp block before being stamped/printed onto the linen.
“Each element represents something, therefore symbolising environment, places and people,” Beth explains. “Some of the elements on our designs also represent travel/journey, life, protection, community and love.”
Pieces are intentionally designed to be versatile. The size and shape of the throws fit any size bed. They also sit beautifully on a chair or draped over a couch as a showpiece and for practicality. And being 100 per cent linen the fabric is breathable, which makes it perfect for all seasons. “We also use them as beach or picnic blankets,” says Beth.
“They are quite big so can fit a few people on them and they are very soft to sit on. It also doesn’t matter if they crease as being linen it adds to the effect of the piece. We also have one hung up on our hallway wall as a wall hanging/piece of art! This always grabs attention and comments.”
New products in the pipeline include silk/cotton scarves, sarongs and bandanas, which also have multiple uses.
Beth says they will continue to produce small batches of Wilde collections and only re-order when close to selling out. “We only order what is selling and necessary too,” she says. “We want to provide unique classic designs that are not ‘on-trend’ or will ‘go out of fashion’. We want to produce products and designs that have longevity and multiple uses.”
For the Dicksons, sustainability includes the brand’s environmental impact, social justice and supporting economies, and Beth is open about the fact that Wilde The Label is at the beginning of its journey and still has a way to go. “We are by no means claiming to be fully sustainable in business and as individuals. We are trying to be conscious and help make a positive contribution to our planet where we can for our future generations. Every little bit helps,” she says.
Being mum to Isla, 3, and with her second child due in August 2021, is also a strong driver for Beth. An integral part of the business plan is working with One Tree Planted. “Planting trees is one of the best ways to combat the damaging effects of climate change,” says Dickson. “It was important for me to have a strong focus on sustainability and ethical practices throughout our business. We are trying to help make a positive contribution to our planet where we can for our future generations.”