WILDFANG doesn't play by the rules. For that, we can credit cofounder and CEO Emma Mcilroy: she built the brand on the so-called radical belief that people should do—and wear—whatever they want. We're psyched to launch the exclusive BP. + WILDFANG collab and chat with Emma about the collection, what place Pride has in her heart, and her words of advice for those making their own way.
Introduce yourself! What's your name, title and pronouns?
My name is Emma and I use she/her pronouns. I'm a queer, immigrant CEO and founder of WILDFANG.
Tell us about the WILDFANG philosophy and how the brand came to be.
It all started in the men's department. We were frustrated that certain styles weren't made for us; they were restricted based on your gender. That just didn't make any sense to us, so we set out to fix it. We wanted to create a place that disrupted the gender norms in fashion and allowed us to have more fun and more flexibility with our self-expression.
We're so lucky to bring WILDFANG to Nordstrom. What was your favourite moment of bringing the BP. + WILDFANG collection to life?
Probably when we officially told the Nordstrom employees about the new collection. Hearing their reaction was incredible—the energy and excitement about the direction and the partnership left me stunned. Reading the comments from staff in the chat, who really related to our concept and wanted to be a part of it, meant the world.
Founding and running a business sounds equal parts energizing and exhausting. What keeps you going when your energy flags?
Exercise helps. So do puppy cuddles. I also do my best to find time to disconnect—likely through an escape room or a board game. Yes, I'm a giant nerd.
What was your first Pride experience?
My first Pride was in London. It was absolutely wild, and my friend Scotty and I ended up dancing until 2:30am in G-A-Y nightclub. I remember feeling overwhelmed at the sense of community and connection, even amongst people I'd never met before.
What does Pride mean to you?
Pride is a reflection of resilience and hope. It reminds me of the work others have done to ensure I can be myself. It also reminds me that through resilience and community, we can create real, meaningful change.
What people/groups/movements from LGBTQ+ history have made the biggest impact on you?
It's hard to imagine any list without Marsha P. Johnson being at the front. Also the Lavender Menace, who fought for a more intersectional feminist movement. Beyond that I'm an athlete, so Billie Jean King and Abby Wambach are both huge inspirations for me.
What would you say to someone who's just starting to explore their LGBTQ+ identity?
I'd say, "We got you." There's a whole community of us who are ready to celebrate you, support you and love you through all the ups and downs. Tap into that community, find your people, find people you can talk to and share with, whether that's in person or online. You'll find there's a huge queer community in your corner—you just haven't met them all yet.
What advice would you give to a fellow founder who's smashing norms and making their own way?
Keep going. The world needs you.