Wren Design is decreasing Cape Town’s carbon footprint, one bag at a time. This small Muizenberg fashion brand specialises in a range of accessories and organisers made entirely from recycled cement paper bags. Fast forward to 2021, and the label has been invited to various trade shows across the globe and featured in magazines such as Wired.
Founder Wendren Setzer launched the concept in 2008 after a stint in the corporate world of textile design. Having graduated cum laude at Textile Design at CPUT in the mid-2000s, she then tapped into blogging and creating on a small scale which opened the door to numerous opportunities for her label in the early days such as Design Indaba young designers programme and regular presence at local markets such as the Old Biscuit Mill.
The concept was simple at first and relied mainly on repurposing fabric offcuts. Then the paper idea came. ‘Sustainability and using what is around you has always been a common thread in my design and creating ever since I was a student. I saw the uniqueness of the recycled paper idea and thankfully, so did the public’, muses Wendren.
Wendren is a passionate advocate for women in the fashion industry and believes women should harness their strength and tap into the advantages that exist in the sector. For instance, it is generally easier for women to access funding and support than men.
Wren Design walks the talk when it comes to female empowerment in the workplace. The studio staff is almost entirely women: Moms, wives, single parents, and single and primary income earners for their families. There are also no staff hierarchies, and along with fair pay, flexibility in work hours and compassion to family demands all strive towards a balanced teamwork environment and relationship with one another. It should be added that two husbands who are also involved in the team, and their balanced input are equally valued.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted this small studio like many other businesses and resulted in reduced working hours and some retrenchment for the team, or staff forced to find other work. But Wendren is hopeful to get her label on the road to recovery. Her goal is to grow exports and sales, while also recalling their full team back together.
What advice would she offer young women looking to launch their own brand? ‘It takes time and a lot of perseverance’, explains Wendren. ‘To take the pressure off you making it an overnight success, consider getting a part-time job to help subside either your living expenses or the company expenses as you grow your dream brand/job/business.’
When she’s not at work, Wendren enjoys getting out in nature. ‘The clean crisp air is always refreshing and allows me to breathe slower. Fish Hoek Beach, Silvermine Forest, or anywhere I can watch the sunrise which is pretty much from any mountain or Southern Peninsula coastline’.
You can visit the Wren Design online store to shop the range.