After finding a passion for photography in high school and jumping into the design business just two days after graduating college, Wild Material is an impressive culmination of Owner Lissa Clear’s hard work and love of her craft.
“I started from the bottom,” Clear says about the early steps in her career.
After garnering enough experience, she was ready to do it on her own. However, it took plenty of time, uncertainty, and a global pandemic for Clear to land where she is now.
Today, Clear is creating “Pacific Northwest-inspired apparel” that she designs and produces all by herself in her storefront.
“I have an embroidery machine, I do my photography, and then sewing,” Clear says. “So I try to do as much as I can in-house.”
After growing up in Colorado and visiting Bellingham on vacation, Clear was always longing for Pacific Northwest-inspired apparel to adorn. When it came time to develop her own brand with her design skills, she knew exactly what direction to go in.
“I definitely want it to be welcoming,” says Clear. “I want to keep it local and just minimal.”
If you were to glance at a map, the store would seemingly look tucked away along a far-stretching Elm Street. Once you step inside, however, you are immediately swept away into a moody blue and emerald green Pacific Northwestern wonderland.
With wood paneling, dozens of colorful items lining the walls, and a large tapestry of a sweeping mountain landscape featuring the store’s name, there is no doubt that our region’s ambiance has been encapsulated within her store.
While Clear is proud of the work she does herself, she says a lot of the support she has received throughout the process of opening her own store has come from her family and loved ones.
In fact, it was during Clear’s process of finding a permanent storefront that she worked part-time with her Etsy shop in her parent’s basement to save up money for her own equipment. Eventually, after hopping from location to location and moving into design full-time in 2020, Clear found her current residency in the fourth location.
Around the store, shoppers can also easily spot a few items that hold a special place in Clear’s heart, including a camera and jewelry that belonged to her grandmother.
What You’ll Find
Along with Clear’s own designs, she has also begun including the products of other local producers, creators, and artists to sell within her store.
This means everything from locally made soaps to jewelry, watercolor paintings, and even items from her mom’s own Etsy store.
“Owning a business is hard,” Clear says. “I started this to make T-shirts and design T-shirts, and that’s like 10% of what I do. So if I could help other businesses figure it out along the way, that would be great.”
Among Clear’s abundance of items offered within the store, there are a few designs and items that she is particularly fond of, including the popular PNW Landscape Crew ($55) which features one of her first designs.
Additionally, Clear noted the Little Bear Onesie ($18) which even features tiny ears, a very Pacific Northwest style Long Sleeve Plaid Flannel Shirt ($56) which features more of her designs on the chest, and the City of Subdued Excitement Crew ($48).
2500 Elm St., Ste. 10, Bellingham, shopwildmaterial.com