We caught up with sisters – and founders of Wild Hearts Wonder – Mairead Wright and Emily Wilton-Keely to talk all things children’s interiors and inspiration.
We’re never quite sure where our little ones imaginations take them when they drift off to the Land of Nod. No doubt there are epic adventures, curious encounters with magical creatures and copious amounts of love and laughter. Mairead Wright and Emily Wilton-Keely, founders of Wild Hearts Wonder, firmly believe imagination is the most powerful tool to create wild stories. So, it’s no surprise the brand’s gorgeous wallpaper prints, interiors and clothing ranges provide creative havens for little minds to wonder.
With six children between them and successful careers in interior design and fashion behind them, Mairead and Emily launched Wild Hearts Wonder with the aim of creating modern, unique and beautiful clothing and interiors for children and the family home. Driven by this ethos to inspire creative thinking and encourage a love of wildlife and nature, Wild Hearts Wonders designs are truly a treat for the eyes – and imagination.
We caught up with the sisters to find out a little bit more about the brand and the inspiration behind the beautiful prints and collections.
How did the Wild Hearts Wonder story begin?
Mairhead: “We had always talked about starting a business together since we were little. When Emily began her maternity leave she picked up the paintbrushes after 10 years and designed some prints as a creative outlet during those early baby days.
“I had retrained and was working as an Interior designer. The stars aligned when Em showed me the first couple of prints and finally we had a great idea to set up a business, playing to both of our passions.”
How did you come up with the name?
Mairead: “We wanted the name to embody the feeling of being a child and having this abundance of imagination and freedom. We also loved the words individually and thought the name didn’t relate to any specific product so could allow us to grow the business into new areas.”
Have you always been interested in design and interiors?
Mairead: “Always, even when we were both little we use to constantly rearrange furniture around the room and redecorate. If we were watching something on TV Em would admire the clothes and I’d be eyeing up the interiors!”
Emily: “I’ve always loved design and had previously spent 10 years working as a buyer for Topshop and French Connection before leaving to have children.”
Where does your inspiration for the Wild Hearts Wonder collections come from?
Mairead: “Nature, old books, museums, old buildings, interiors, fashion magazines. It could come from anywhere really-it is how you interpret with your own unique handwriting.”
How do you get in the creative mindset?
Mairead: “It’s hard, especially at the moment with home-schooling, otherwise – peace and quiet or a trip to somewhere inspirational helps, the V&A for example always prompts some new ideas.
“A normal working day, when we’re not in Lockdown, starts with emails and sending out samples to customers.
“Working with the next collection, whether it be selecting fabrics or approving strike offs.
“When Em has a free day she will spend it painting new designs. If we’re planning a shoot, we organise the props and work out what we need to buy to style a room.”
Talk us through the design process for your wallpapers and fabrics
Mairead: “Using the Woodland Rave print as an example, we wanted to play on the Teddy Bears Picnic theme but also for it to resonate with the parents, hence you’ll find a 90’s ghetto blaster, raving badgers, and foxes playing poker.
“We wanted to design prints that moved away from the twee look we had all grown up with, we wanted something that would make us parents smile along with the children.”
What are some of your favourite prints?
Emily: “Wildcats is a favourite of mine. I spent so long meticulously painting the big cats as I wanted to include as much detail as possible for little fingers to trail over. ”
Mairead: “My favourite is Woodland Rave. It was the eureka moment for me when I saw this design, after spending so much time decorating children’s bedrooms, I knew we had something unique and special with this print.”
What about that all-important work/life balance? Are you able to switch off after the working day?
Emily: “I rarely work in the evenings, my brain switches to food and tv and nothing else!”
Mairead: “I’m the opposite, I tend to do a lot more work in the evenings, I’m definitely the night owl!
“We try to take Christmas off, family time is really important and we both need a break from thinking about work to help us come back with some fresh new ideas.”
What design rules do you live by?
Mairead: “My general rule is to go big where you can: a large print, a light fitting, or plants always looks so dramatic in a good way, it takes more guts but will always pay off!”
What’s one piece of interiors or styling advice you’d like to share?
Mairead: “Always look to nature. “If a colour way works on a bird or flower it will work in your living room or bedroom!”
What trends can we expect to see for nurseries and children’s bedrooms this year?
Mairead: “Anything that brings children joy!
“We are launching a personalised wallpaper for children’s rooms – what could be more fun than spotting your own name made out of flocking birds or marching ants.”
What has been the brand’s biggest achievement to date?
Mairead: “Being featured in Elle Decoration’s AW20 Ultimate Edit was great.
“Also seeing our Wildcats wallpaper and Jungle Massive fabric in Rochelle Humes’ nursery was also a big highlight.”
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when you started the brand?
Mairead: “We launched a few children’s styles in the beginning and naively showed them at a trade show without having them fully in production. We then saw our ideas in a large high street chain after we had allowed some photos to be taken!”
“We also learnt that a photoshoot with your own children is not recommended! During one ill-fated shoot, two of the children disappeared and emerged covered in YSL red lipstick which they had painted themselves in and the carpet.”
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What about during the pandemic? What’s been the biggest adjustment?
“We have six children between us who all need to be home-schooled, so it has been challenging, it hasn’t left much time for anything else!”
What do you know now that wish you’d known when you first started Wild Hearts Wonder?
Mairead: “Just to chill out and let your brand grow organically.
“Accepting that there will be highs and lows, it’s just the small business rollercoaster you have to ride! Also that our customers are so important to our business, it is their genuine recommendations to friends and family that account for lots of new business.”
What’s next for the brand?
“We’re looking at designing some new product ranges – watch this space!”
For samples and to shop the full collection, visit www.wildheartswonder.com.
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