I first discovered Make Wilde thru ModerNation, an online shop that celebrates upcycled clothing and sustainably made goods. A quick scroll thru Make Wilde's Instagram feed and I was entranced—not only by their commitment to using recycled metals and reclaimed gems but also by their organic jewelry that beautifully evokes the wild wonder of our natural world.

I've met many people who are quick to write off sustainable fashion as superficial. Considering that the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry on the planet, however, I think that illuminating those businesses that are challenging the status quo is pretty damn important. Make Wilde is about transforming the delicious act of adornment into an exercise in environmental responsibility. It's about noticing the kind of beauty that we can build when we look to the materials we already have in circulation as a source of inspiration. And it's about sharing natural talismans that give us a place to ground our permaculture philosophies.

I connected with co-founder Chloe Byrne—who crafts each Make Wilde piece by hand in collaboration with Andrew Sapienza—to talk about reimagining "garbage" and building a sustainable business. Dig in for your daily dose of inspiration.

How do you practice permaculture in your everyday life?

We live in New York City, so it's a bit difficult to practice permaculture in full; however, through as many routes as possible, I've found ways to incorporate permaculture into our life here. As a philosophy, we are always looking for ways to work with nature as well as take into consideration all of the ways something might be used and reused. One thing that we constantly practice is to buy only what we need; this is an ongoing effort, as needs change day-to-day, but to do this, we try to plan ahead, do our research, and only buy from businesses that practice in permaculture, sustainability, and environmental responsibility. We also like to repurpose things that would otherwise end up as "garbage" or "recycling." 

Make Wilde repurposes materials and draws inspiration from the natural world to craft unique pieces. What's your creative process like and what resources do you turn to infuse your work with its wild spirit?

Our creative process is often started by the materials we use. Our first set of raw gemstones were part of a reclaiming process where I went to collect old Earth Science Education Materials. These are often grids with USA-native stones glued onto them. I take them apart and reuse the gems in our pieces! So, as to your question, we start with a material and then we design around it. 

What experiences brought you to create Make Wilde?

Many. Mostly, my interest in sustainable business practices came from food quality-related research. As I became more and more interested in supporting high-quality, small business organics, I internalized all of the things that made something the "best" it seemingly could be! I started to translate these qualities into other areas of life...I think that the farther out from your body that a product gets, the farther away the effect is in your mind. So, food is the obvious first consideration, then body products, then clothing, and finally, household items and electronics. I eventually made my way up the ladder! So when I wanted to make a jewelry company, I thought it logical that I practice my version of best practices to see how it would go!

What does it mean to be a sustainable business?

This is totally dependent on the industry in which the business fits. But in general I would say that [in a sustainable business] their raw materials and final product are produced locally, and under high quality work conditions. They have people working for them that are empathetic, hard-working, balanced, and properly compensated. Their product is based on quality, not quantity. They are honest and transparent in their offerings. They are adding positive, necessary products or services to people's lives. And most importantly, they have made every possible consideration as to how their materials and product are impacting the environment because we rely on the environment to survive. 

Kate WeinerComment