Brands We Love : Will + Bear

by Maddie Vlismas

Hey Lauren and Alex! We are *so* stoked to be able to (virtually) chat about what makes your incredible business Will + Bear so special.

For those who might know you as well as we do : can you tell us a little about Will + Bear, and where the idea for your beautiful business came from?

Will + Bear was born on the road four years ago whilst we were travelling in Tasmania. Along our travels we were in search for the perfect hat but after falling short, we immediately had an idea! We’ve always had such a strong sense of connection with the wilderness of remote Tasmania so it was those two seemingly small connections that birthed the idea of Will + Bear: An inclusive hat brand focusing on sustainability and giving back to our environment.

You have made so many amazing commitments to being a sustainable brand, and we’re obviously huge fans of your design philosophy as it’s very similar to our own! What inspired this focus and what does it mean to you?

On our first date Alex (Bear) told me (Loz) he wanted to change the world, I of course fell in love straight away (who wouldn’t?!) and then we both agreed it was possible (maybe a little high on first date excitement). This conversation was the first of many and as individuals we wanted to make a difference to the environment and create a business we would be proud to work for and create a community around those ideas. Will + Bear was designed to be a brand that gave us a platform to talk about the values we hold close to our hearts. We wanted to build something we would be proud to promote and allowed our personal and business goals to align.

Can you tell us a little about your partnership with Trees for the Future? Why was it so important for you guys to make this pledge?

Through our partnership with Trees for the Future we plant 10 trees for every hat sold. To date, we have planted over 140 hectares of trees in West Africa. This ongoing partnership has helped us create a platform for our customers to join us in creating opportunities for new forests to grow. This means more jobs, waterways and climate stability for our community of West Africa. To us, the point of starting a business was to have a positive environmental and social impact and so far, I think we’re doing a pretty good job!

What were you guys up to before Will + Bear came along?

Alex (Bear) studied product design engineering and was working as a contract designer, originally from Victoria. When not working on Will + Bear you could find him in the surf, tinkering on our van or coming up with new project ideas to work on. Loz (Will) was a mortgage broker, originally from Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne. When not working on Will + Bear you could find Loz out in nature, organising events/trips and cooking up a storm on the campfire.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

Alex : accepting the fear of the unknown. Everything you do when you run your own business is a risk and sometimes those risks are huge. Learning to trust that everything will work out or even if it doesn’t it will be okay was really hard.

Loz : My biggest challenge was my personal insecurities. I was a mortgage broker and a hairdresser who hadn’t finished high school, so I didn't have confidence in running a business of this size. I’d also never been in a creative space within a business before so I was constantly questioning and doubting myself. I think it took me 3 full years to realise I was doing just fine and that no one actually knows what they're doing, the trick to succeeding is admitting that and asking for help.

What’s next for you guys and and Will + Bear?
We're always experimenting with new materials from upcycled waste to minimise our carbon footprint while reducing the label's reliance on new fibres. With that being said, you can expect to see some new styles in the near future. Stay Tuned!

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