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April 26, 2024 —

Meet the Maker: Beth Kendall of Wilder & Wren

Beth Kendall creates press wildflower artwork, prints, stationery and more under her brand, Wilder & Wren. She shares how nature, folklore, motherhood and her Dorset location inspires her work...
Beth Kendall creating pressed wildflower artwork for her brand Wilder & Wren in Dorset home
Beth Kendall creating pressed wildflower artwork for her brand Wilder & Wren in Dorset home
Shelley Welti
91 Magazine online content editor,

Photography

Jenny Webb
Photographer,
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Hi Beth, why and when did you decide to start your business? 

I began pressing flowers at home in the first months of new motherhood, in the summer of 2016. My newborn son, Wilder, is now a thriving and healthy seven-year-old. But when he was born he was seriously ill. His brain had been damaged and we weren’t sure if and how his future might be affected. Those first few months, living very quietly, treading very softly but also experiencing the harsh reality of motherhood, but specifically motherhood to a baby who was critically poorly; it made me retreat from anything in life with sharp edges. I spent a lot of time outside, walking Wilder in his pram. I began to look at the world with a dreamlike hyper-focus.

I felt soothed by nature and the seasons, by flowers and plants. I now believe it was my own brain and body recovering from the specific trauma of Wilder’s arrival. Wilder & Wren became a small business when I began to sell pressed flower cards and prints on Etsy, and at markets and in stores locally. I began to build a community on Instagram and I’d sell on there too. And my new hobby initially became a way to make a bit of money – to work from home with my baby.

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What had you done before?

I studied art and poetry at university, but after graduating and until I had Wilder, I worked in public relations for clients in the lifestyle and travel sector. I loved what I did for a job and I liked working in an office, but after becoming a mother I didn’t want to leave my baby. And honestly, I couldn’t work out a way of returning to work in the same way as I had before. Logistically it just didn’t work for us as a family. My PR background has certainly helped me to create a brand out of what started as a hobby or a lifestyle.

We bet! How would you describe the brand’s ethos and your signature style?

My brand is essentially elements of my life, romanticised! I love living in the countryside. I love flowers, nature, art and homemaking. I love the beauty and inspiration that the domestic space can offer.

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How does your location inspire you?

I love living in Dorset; a part of the country where the seasons are at the forefront of the environment. So much about where I live inspires me. My very old, thatched cottage and its idiosyncratic walls and messy, rambling garden, carpeted with primroses in spring. The magical bluebell wood, a short walk from my home. The summer fields of yellow rape and wheat, as far as the eye can see. The smell of wood smoke as I walk through my village on an autumn evening. Even the isolation I can feel here in winter. I embrace it all. 

Sounds gorgeous! Can you tell us a little about the processes used to create your work?

Flower pressing is very intuitive and accessible, and to make an artwork out of natural materials is mostly, foolproof! I have learnt a lot about pressing British wildflowers and cottage garden flowers over the past seven years, but when I started Wilder & Wren in 2016, I lived in a flat in a town, and I still managed to find plants and flowers on my walks, and create art out of what I’d notice growing in the urban environment.

I have a small workroom in my home that I painted entirely with red field poppies using a stencil roller, and that’s where I store my presses and papers and stock. However, the window is very small so it’s not light enough to work in. I tend to use the table in the dining room, which is my favourite room in the cottage. The décor is curated in a such a way that, when the doors are open to the garden in summer, it feels like I’m in the French countryside.

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“I love the beauty and inspiration that the domestic space can offer.”

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Which is your most popular product?

My herbarium print set of 12 pressed wildflowers is very popular, because it’s so versatile. I’ve seen those prints dotted around clients’ homes, everywhere from bathrooms to kitchens – while others choose to hang them as a statement gallery wall. The pressed wildflower baby name prints also sell very well too, as they are popular as a newborn or christening gift.

What does a typical day look like for you?

My day begins pretty typically. Wrangling the children to get to school, followed by a cup of tea and breakfast (Marmite and houmous on a bagel is much tastier than it sounds) as soon as I return home. I almost always go for a walk mid-morning, as it helps my brain form ideas and also, to remember things I might have forgotten. But it has to be a circular walk to do that magic! 

Work is always a balance of creative stuff like foraging for and pressing flowers, or making or painting (I paint a little bit, and I’m introducing that to my practice these days). And the other element to my work involves admin and emails, and checking in on Instagram – which is where a lot of my customers discover my work.

“Work is always a balance of creative stuff like foraging for and pressing flowers, or making or painting.”

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 How do you approach PR and marketing?

PR and marketing is an element of my brand that I take seriously and really enjoy. It’s kind of automatic for me to think like a brand, as I did that for clients when I worked in the industry.

What’s been your highlight so far?

I’ve worked with some lovely brands over that last few years, including Beulah London, which sells my framed prints, and Ffern, a gorgeous British perfumery, where I’ve hosted flower pressing workshops. I do enjoy workshops, where I get to interact with people who are interested in the same thing as me, and I always feel happy when they leave relaxed and inspired from connecting with nature and each other for a couple of hours.

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What’s in-store for you over the coming months? 

I’ve just launched an exciting collaboration with womenswear brand Albaray; a capsule collection of summer dresses, skirts and tops, inspired by my pressed flower designs! We now just need the weather to warm up…

If you were to share any words of wisdom with readers looking to start a creative business – what would you say?

Take each step as a step – not a leap. If you leap you’ll miss important developments which take time, and patience, adjustments and mistakes. And plan, always. Very little success is luck, even if it’s framed that way.

QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS

Describe your work in three words: Bucolic, folksy, homespun.
What are your creating rituals? A tidy space and catching the flower seasons, as they are so brief and only come once a year.
Tea or coffee? Tea first, then coffee.
Mountains or sea? Could I actually say rolling hills?
Night owl or early bird? Early bird.
I wish someone had told me…That growth is slow and cyclical – not linear.

wilderandwren.co.uk

@wilderandwren

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