Interview by Sam Haddad, photo by Sam Ashley
I was an urban girl before I came to O’Neill. I did sports but city stuff like fitness and yoga. Now I live 15 minutes from the beach and I’ve started to surf. I’m really enjoying it and like feeling connected to nature. I still like to break out at the weekends sometimes and go back to the big city, but when I come back on a Sunday night I enjoy the quietness again. I’ve found my freedom here and my life has got a new kind of variety to it.
People buy O’Neill to get a piece of the lifestyle. When you go shopping you might buy say five Topshop pieces but treat yourself to one item from O’Neill. It’s more expensive but it’s something special that will last longer. With high street brands there’s no story behind them, so you don’t get that special feeling when you wear them.
I always have a clean table and my flat is always tidy. Creative types are often messy and my colleagues laugh at me, as before I start designing I clean my whole desk area. It helps my head be creative.
Being a fashion designer is not a normal profession. It goes into you and never stops, even when you’re at a party or reading a book or doing something that isn’t connected to your profession, you’re never not thinking about it. I’ll often get weird ideas in the strangest places, like a supermarket, and write them down in my little book.
I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer from when I was very young. As far back as then I had a clear opinion of what I wanted to wear and how I wanted to wear it, even though it was sometimes at odds with my parents, haha. Before I studied fashion I did law. I laugh about it now and people who know me smile at the thought of me ever ending up doing such a conservative job. But sometimes the journey is also the destination and I don’t see it as a wasted time, I think I needed to get more aware about my skills and more self-confident as a person.
I love how people dress in Berlin. It’s so real and young-minded. The world is so virtual, which is why it’s good to find something pure that really inspires you. I find that with Scandinavian style too.
Fashion is so much more globalised now. If you go to America you see the same trends as in Europe. It’s neither bad nor good, but it’s inevitable as everything is much more connected. It makes it easier to reach more people but also harder to do something special, as it’s all been communicated already.
Doing my job I get judged by what I wear, but you also have to promote yourself to other people. It’s superficial but it’s the fashion industry. As a fashion designer you yourself look to dress in a certain way, I have a really big wardrobe and hundreds of shoes, haha. I used to wear more black, but since I’ve been at O’Neill I wear more colour, which I’m really enjoying. I do look at what my employees wear but I judge character a lot too. I’m a really open, positive, person and I like to work with people like that.
I work in Holland, where there is a flat hierarchy. Everybody can have a say and give feedback on things, which is also quite a trait of the boardsports industry, where everything is quite relaxed. Here you have the opportunity to both learn and contribute a lot. Before I was at a bigger company with a strict structure and everyone pretty much stuck to their own roles. But I learnt a lot as I had to work fast. We did 12 collections and they were often close to the on-sale time, which means you wait to see what others do a lot more. Here we work a year and a half in advance so you get to trust your opinion much more, it’s a lot more interesting for a designer.
We’re a small team of five people. I like working in a team, as you get inspired. Someone will give a hint or push and suddenly the whole thing will run in another direction. We all work on everything from sketching designs to trend research.