Founder/Designer of Au Revoir Les Filles Jewelery
WHAT DO YOU DO?
I design finely crafted jewelry inspired by story and romance. I founded my label Au Revoir Les Filles a year ago, and since then, we've produced 2 collections, with campaigns shot with fashion blogger Margaret Zhang and cult model Ruby Jean Wilson.
WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
I started as a design room assistant to a bridal atelier with no prior education in fashion, having studied Media and Communications in university. I had a great mentor, who taught me fundamental skills of sewing and garment construction, and moved up through the fashion ranks, eventually working a senior designer for a big clothing company. In between, I lived in Paris for 3 years, studying fashion design at Esmod, one of the oldest fashion colleges in Europe which was founded in 1841. That experience inspired a lot of the brand's identity, including the name.
Seeing a niche in the market for high quality designer jewelry that embraced the dark romance in nature, I took the plunge and launched Au Revoir Les Filles.
Working a full-time job while managing my label, with very late nights, and no weekends off, and very, very little sleep.
Getting past that breaking point of dreaming of doing something, to actually doing it, and realizing the long arduous road ahead.
FOR OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR FIELD, WHAT DO THEY USUALLY LACK?
The same thing we all lack at one stage until we take it - just the faith to take that first step. Have a dream- that's the easy part, and don't fear the consequences, that's the hard part. It sounds like motivational speak - but it works, action takes away the fear. You're too busy flapping your wings to notice how high you are! Baby steps will eventually lead to leaping the big crevasse.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
I'm taking up calligraphy, its been a long dream of mine to learn to write beautifully, fingers crossed I have a knack! I would love to incorporate that into personal notes for our customers. I enjoy learning something that has been a somewhat overlooked and forgotten art-form.
WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?
The sales and finance side! Designing and branding come very naturally to me, whereas numbers can be challenging. Sales is an entirely separate field, gaining the confidence and polish to sell your brand takes intense time and effort.
WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?
Time. There never seems to be enough hours in a day... Finding a way to scale the brand organically, without losing the intimacy and personal relationships with our customers which we value.
WHAT TASK KEEPS LANDING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE TO DO LIST?
Adding more elements to the website, and creating more content for our social media. It takes time to do well - but is very rewarding creatively and a great outlet to communicate with our clients.
IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HOUR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?
Sales and outreach. It's a whole different ballpark, and I would love to work with the right sales agency that can further our reach, leaving me free to focus on the creative direction of the brand. In term of outreach, finding other avenues to explore creative and social collaborations that match not just the brand's aesthetic but also ethos.
LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?
Be brave and kick-start your dreams. Build a foundation of education and experience - and then start your label and establish yourself early. Success doesn't happen overnight. Embrace your imperfections, life is too short to waste head-space on anything superfluous. Jump onto social media early, blogging and Instagram will be huge. But also, enjoy everything, the good and the bad - because it all is so precious.
IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
Natalie Massenet - It would be amazing to be able to pick the brains of the founder of Net-a-Porter for her business and marketing acumen.
Francesca Amfitheatrof - Having designed for Chanel, Fendi and being the first female design director for Tiffany & Co, she would be an amazing source of inspiration and discipline.
JK Rowling - Writing is one of the hardest hats to wear, and I would love to hear her creative process, how she crafts a story and its characters with complexity.
WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
Working with creatives from other design fields such as photography, blogging, fine arts (plus others: dance, theatre, film, even architecture, engineering and technology, there are so many!) is always great fun.
In the long run, I would love to mentor design students and young designers; I find passing on knowledge and experience is invaluable and so fulfilling. I myself was very lucky to get some great mentors who helped me get to where I am, and to pay it forward you have to give back and go on to inspire others.
WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL CLIENT?
I would love to collaborate with established clothing brands that I love, such as Lover, Dion Lee or Ellery and create a line of jewelry for them. Not just established brands but also other up and coming labels. Finding a common synergy is always exciting- like a music collaboration between two artists from different genres is often the most interesting to listen to for me.
DO YOU ALLOW YOURSELF TO SAY NO?
As a growing brand, we have to juggle being selective with embracing opportunity, of which there are so many, with social media especially.
After everything else is weighed - it does always come down to trusting your instinct and intuition. A lot of seemingly small decisions every day eventually come to define the direction of the brand and the brand itself. With that in mind, finding a clear brand identity is important.
WHAT IS YOUR RATE?
It really depends on the type of project, the scope and scale, what the creative brief is and how long the project is for.
HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?
Email first, and then coffee. Its always good to have a face-to-face and figure out where we can go from there. In this day and age - I do value personal interaction - so I enjoy any opportunity to actually meet fellow creatives and potential collaborators. Even if we don't end up working together, I always find it inspiring in one way or another.
This member profile was originally published in January 2016.