10 Years of Wulfka

10 Years of Wulfka

I started Wulfka in the living room of my Logan Square flat (shout-out to my very forgiving former roommates Colleen & Soairse!) in 2013. I made everything on little home machines. I muddled through the first iterations of a website. Zak worked all week and then helped me at art fairs all weekend. I'm very lucky he's super into me! 

I want to share some of my highlights with you. Enjoy the photo deep dive!


I'll Dye For You

When I first started Wulfka I was rust dyeing, dipping in bleach, and pole wrapping. All in my little kitchen or back yard! I made gorgeous pieces. And I loved it.

But boy was it a lot of work! Synthetic dyes are also toxic, so I needed a lot more PPE to do this work. Ultimately I didn't feel like I could charge what I needed to for these pieces, so I phased it out.

I started to do dye work again in 2021 when I foraged buckthorn berries on my mom's land in Northern Wisconsin! I make very limited quantities, only enough to feed my soul and satiate my curiosity. 

It still doesn't make financial sense. You may have noticed that I don't charge more for my naturally-dyed pieces. It's a passion project, a way for me to connect to other curious folks and experiment with an alternative to conventional dyes. 


I promise I'm allowed to be here! 

I once bribed a security guard with cupcakes. Another time someone called the cops on an outdoor shoot I was doing in the burbs, fortunately the mayor was lending us his motorcycle and he told the cop to let it go. In Arizona, park rangers didn't really believe that the photo shoot was "non-commercial" and "just for a friend's blog" but my PA was so nice that they decided not to shut us down.  

Here's me trying to convince a Macy's security guard that I had permission to take photos on an unoccupied floor of the flagship State Street building. I actually did have permission for this one! Being nice is the greatest job skill a goblin like me could master!


The Im-Peach-Mint Candle

In the early days of the Trump administration I came up with this excellent pun. I joked to too many people "wouldn't it be funny if I made an Im-Peach-Mint Candle?" and they all agreed. Then tattooist Molly Emrick agreed to draw the caricature and it felt like it was meant to be.

I decided to donate half the money to the ACLU. I figured I'd sell a couple hundred dollars' worth and that would be it. Dear friend, imagine my shock when I finally wrapped up this project and I had donated over $18,000 to the ACLU. 

That's at least 1800 candles! 

Here's a pic of my cutting table covered in paper so that I could pour hundreds of candles in one weekend, with the hot wax pitchers in their double boilers in the foreground. 

It seemed that most people in Chicago had seen the candles, but didn't realize it was Wulfka. I kept the branding minimal because while I have my own very strong political opinions, I'd rather have the discourse around Wulfka be about sustainability and size inclusivity. 

The ACLU challenged many of the Trump Administration's egregious legislations, such as suppressing the vote, restricting transgender rights, the citizenship question on the census, separating asylum-seeking families, among many other important fights. It felt SO GOOD to feel like I had an impact at a time when I was furious about so many things!


The 2020 Pivot

Like most small business owners, I wasn't sure that Wulfka would survive the Covid lockdown. I buried my anxiety under the important work of sewing masks, at first to donate to hospitals and then to sell. I kept a loose tally. I sewed over two thousand masks that first year.

With the possibility of a slow, pandemic-induced business failure looming over my head, I decided to make Wulfka everything I'd ever dreamed it could be. I went all-in on sustainability, investing in scrupulously-chosen, gorgeous fabrics. I had to increase my prices, which was terrifying. But it felt like the right thing to do for the environment, and y'all were ready for transparency and an honest discussion of the nuances of sustainability!

Then I extended my size range to 4XL and y'all were ready for that too! Again, it was a huge investment because I doubled my SKUs, and it was risky because I had built a straight-size customer base and would need to get in front of an entirely new customer. But, again, I felt it was the right thing to do! The first season didn't sell well, but it's been building steadily. This season the plus sizes have been the fastest to sell. 

The Traveling Photo Shoot

Why take a vacation when you could take a work trip? Learning to take my own photos has opened up a world of photo shoot locations. 

Hawaii, Spring 2016


Iceland, Fall 2019


Arizona, Spring 2021


So cheers to ten years! Cheers to getting a little better every year, and cheers to you for sticking with me and making my dreams come true. It would make my heart so happy if you would stick with me for another ten years!