The Wren Design was founded in 2008 after the owner, Wendren Setzer, took the decision to resign from her job as a textile designer at a clothing factory. She found that working for a large corporation was unfulfilling and wanted to take on a new challenge. Finding herself in need of a handbag, she decided to put her own design skills to use and made her own. This became her first product and so she launched into her new career as an entrepreneur. By starting a business that was more in keeping with her own design ideas, she had the freedom to apply a more innovative approach to product development. Her belief in the value of good workmanship over mass-produced products served as the central principle around which the business has evolved. She has kept a practical, hands-on approach to the business ever since.
In October 2008, The Wren Design was afforded the opportunity to showcase its products at the Neighbourgoods design market in Woodstock. This allowed the company to meet and build connections with local shop owners and clients. In 2010, Wendren was invited to participate in the Design Indaba as an Emerging Creative. This event exposed the company to a much wider international market and led to an increase in wholesale orders. The event also attracted online and print media coverage and The Wren Design began to establish itself as a fast-growing international company with a reputation for sustainable manufacturing, fair business ethics, innovation, quality workmanship and excellent customer service.
In 2012 The Wren Design was invited to participate in the Munich Creative Business exhibition. This was the company’s first appearance at an international exhibition. Since then, more international exposure has followed and the company continues to grow and contribute to the wider design industry through Wendren’s unique approach to design.
The first Wren bags were made from English woven fabrics. Wendren’s discovery of discarded coffee sacks at a local roaster led her to rethink her manufacturing process. The idea of using found materials and repurposing them with the aim of promoting sustainability was a watershed moment for the company.
While exploring other materials options, she hit upon the concept of using paper to construct items of apparel. This marked a radical departure from conventional textiles, but it is an innovation that has proved highly successful. By treating the paper using fusion and coating technologies, the paper’s strength is greatly enhanced and it becomes a functional fabric.
The result is a unique product line which can be likened to origami in its simplicity of design The natural texture of the paper also lends the product a unique tactile quality that adds to its appeal. Perhaps the most iconic example of the Wren’s product offering is the company’s bestselling range of PPC-branded bags, which are striking for the way in which they combine contemporary design ideas with ordinary materials to produce something that is uniquely eye-catching. In addition to paper, fabrics utilizing repurposed coffee sacks (the Jute Range) and antique linen (the Linen Range) are used.
Each fabric has a story of its own to tell, from the linen grain sacks that were woven between 1880 and 1910 to the well-travelled coffee sacks infused with their cargo of aromatic beans. The Wren Design offers more than 40 products to choose from and there is a bag to cater for all tastes. All Wren products are hand crafted to ensure durability and the highest quality of workmanship.
When The Wren Design was founded, Wendren performed all of the production tasks herself. In October 2009, the company had grown to the point where a few extra pairs of hands were needed. She sourced the services of two seamstresses to work part-time over weekends to meet demand.
This was the start of a close collaboration between kindred spirits who shared a passion for their craft. When the women found themselves retrenched from their day jobs at the clothing factory for the second time in a year, they decided to work from home and sew bags full time for The Wren Design.
The company promotes an ethic of shared industry and there is a sense that it exists only through the people who contribute their skills. The work environment is built on a relationship of trust, fairness, respect and the promotion of individual growth opportunities.
Through the team’s dedicated efforts, every person involved in the company has been able to achieve several goals: to earn a higher wage, to own their own machines and to produce a product that they can be proud of. The Wren Design team is an essential element in the manufacturing process and they take great pride in their work. The team members are all proud entrepreneurs in their own right with individual strengths led by Wendren Setzer.