The Wildthings team have been relatively quiet over the last six months. Thanks to the lockdown, many of their international stockists had to close their physical stores, so sales have been slow. Working from home, Leanne and her team were mindful of over-ordering stock so kept levels low for their new collection. However, they were pleasantly surprised when sales in the webshop soared.
The pandemic, however, didn’t just affect sales. It also caused issues with the sourcing of fabric in Bali and the prices of gold and silver rose. Leanne was determined to keep producing, so followed guidance and implemented safety measures to allow the family-run factory in Bali to stay open "we are grateful that our factory is still able to produce which allows our business to continue" she says.
However, it hasn’t quite been business as usual. Bali closed its borders to tourists, and those borders remain shut. Leanne and her team in Amsterdam haven't been able to visit the silversmiths in Bali, and Leanna says, "we really miss the personal touch with our team members and the connection with Bali itself.”
There have been over 6000 registered cases of Covid-19 so far on the island, which has a population of 4.2 million, and borders are expected to remain closed until at least January 2021. Consequently, Leanne has had to take the difficult decision to close their first Wildthings Flagship Store in Canggu, Bali which only opened last year.
The Coronavirus has had a huge impact on the island where 70% of the population work in the tourism industry or rely on income from tourism. Those in Bali report it as eerily empty and that citizens aren't receiving any support from the government. Many people are struggling to earn a living.
Leanne and her team were naturally keen to help the people of the island they love so much. Collaborating with The Bali Curator – a group of ethical sourcing consultants and production managers based on the island – and Cinta Bumi Artisans who handcraft cloth products, they launched a collection of Wildthings face masks. The masks are naturally dyed and made from three layers; organic cotton, woven cotton and stencilled. They can be purchased on the Wildthings website at three different price points; you select the price you want to pay and donate as much as you can.
All of the profits from the masks are fed back to Bali. A fixed amount goes to the material and natural dye atelier and tailor, while the donation to the families in Bali varies depending on what price point you choose; the website makes it crystal clear how much you are giving.
This collaboration has provided work for Balinese tailors and raised much-needed funds for those unable to work. Leanne hopes to build on this charity work, and contribute to Bali residents in the long term by supporting local foundations.
The future of Bali is unclear, but there is hope, says Leanne, "New strategies are planned by multiple tourism players in Indonesia. One of the key elements in this is to improve overall hygiene. Let’s hope that with these new guidelines and policies, it’ll be possible to step safely back on the island as soon as possible and give that tourism an injection shot!" says Leanne.
The Wildthings team in Amsterdam have all had time to reflect. They're slowly going back to the office and they recently welcomed two new team members in Amsterdam and Lisbon. Keep up with their news at their brand-new blog, and expect a new collection very soon; they’re busy working on it right now.