When is a shoe a Wildling shoe? To be a Wildling shoe, it must be able to withstand a lot: Besides sporting the Wildling Shoes look, the material properties are most important. After all, a good shoe has to be able to tolerate plenty of wear and tear. Indra performs meticulous tests to determine whether newly developed models meet these high requirements – they only go into production once everything is right. In this interview, Indra tells us what led her to Wildling Shoes, and why she feels she is in exactly the right place here.
Your early days at Wildling Shoes: When did you join, and what was different at Wildling Shoes back then compared to now?
Indra: I started in Customer Service back in December 2017. Everything was different then. I joined a small, close-knit Wildling Shoes family of about 25 employees. In fact, there was just Customer Service, Marketing, and the small warehouse. We all communicated over cell phone, texting and chatting, and had virtually zero meetings. I have since landed in the Supply Chain team, I have plenty of meetings, and sadly, I have colleagues whom I’ve never met in person (yet).
How would you explain what you do at Wildling Shoes to a ten-year-old kid?
Indra: I clean shoes that have just been invented to see what happens. And if everything turns out well, then I tell my fellow team members about it and the journey continues. If everything doesn’t turn out okay, then we’ll work on it until it is. And then the shoes are put into production and get the chance to make other people happy.
Why did you apply to Wildling Shoes?
Indra: At that time, I was a young, single mom living on Hartz IV [Germany’s welfare and unemployment benefit system], attending a fashion school “on the side,” and sewing costumes for travesty show- and burlesque artists together with a friend of mine. At some point, a friend told me that Wildling Shoes was looking for people to work in Customer Service. To be honest, I mainly wanted to stabilize or improve my financial situation, so I wrote an email to Wildling Shoes and asked if they would like to hire me. They did. And that’s when my exciting journey began. But then, the financial situation was only one of so many aspects that have enriched my life incredibly since.
What surprised you the most about Wildling Shoes?
Indra: Up until then, I had only experienced a working world or an employment relationship in which the boss makes all the calls; the atmosphere is kept relatively cool and somehow you are made to feel that you need to show eternal gratitude because otherwise your employment relationship is in jeopardy – especially if you’re a single parent. That’s why I was actually considering self-employment. With Wildling Shoes, though, things were completely different. I received an incredibly warm welcome. I was seen as part of the company, and people paid attention to where my strengths lay, so I was able to develop in new areas as well. I was equally surprised that my well-being actually mattered. I was seen and valued. And nothing has changed as far as that goes.
Will you show us a picture of the place where you like to work the most?
What are the things about work that you wouldn’t want to do without?
Indra: My team, my flexibility, and the fact that we are all interacting as equals. I also love the input about issues related to sustainability, diversity, and self-care.
What’s your favorite wallpaper?
Indra: I don’t have anything like that. I always have my browser open with 47,429,352 tabs and probably waste quite a bit of time trying to find the right ones. (laughs)
What was the best advice you’ve ever received?
1. “Indra, if you click on the little paint roller in Excel, you can just apply the format! Don’t make it so hard on yourself!”
2 “Indra, when you’re doing well, your child is doing well too. So make sure you’re doing okay. Take care of yourself.”
Wildling Shoes team members from the very beginning
Wildling Shoes wouldn’t be Wildling Shoes without the people who bring values like environmental responsibility, fairness, and the pioneering spirit to life. Today there are around 280 employees – but who were among the first to lay the groundwork in a brand new, tiny start-up team? What was it like to help invent a new way of working back then, what has changed, and how do you manage to retain your own enthusiasm and sense of newness after all these years? In a series of interviews, Wildling Shoes’ earliest employees share their experiences and talk about how they’ve managed to keep their goals and values top of mind over the years as they’ve made their way at Wildling Shoes.
Header image: private