It’s no surprise that the minds behind such dreamy collections are just as amazing and creative as their designs. Allison is the Billabong Women’s Design Director, and with over ten years of experience she is quite the design guru. Not only does she design whimsical styles, but she lives the ultimate bohemian lifestyle. Learn more about this lovely designer and get a little peek inside where all the magic happens at Billabong…
Guest Blogger, Leah: As the Design Director at Billabong, what are some of the hardest and most fun responsibilities that come along with that title?
Allison: I’d say the hardest and most dynamic part of my job is the constant juggle. There really is never a dull moment. Since we design 4 seasons a year, there is no down time and at times you are literally touching 3 seasons at one time.The most exciting parts for me are conceptualizing a new season. It’s where you have to dig deep and dream a lot! I also love when our samples come to life during photo shoots. It’s amazing to see something that was at one time a thought come to life on a model and then captured in a timeless image. It never gets old!
Walk us through a typical work day for you.
There is really no such thing as a “typical” day. In my roll I wear a lot of hats and depending on at what point we are in the season it really fluctuates. My intention is always to get started right away on emails, but that usually never happens. Many of the times I connect with my amazing design team and we review fabric and print submits, or proto samples. Then it could be off to meet with a print studio to shop prints for our next season or to collaborate with our textile designer to review pattern direction for prints or yarn/dyes. After that it could be anything from meeting with our Marketing team to discuss details of our upcoming marketing campaign or sitting with our Product Development team to review pricing on samples. At times I’ll support our sales team in showing the line to key accounts or presenting our seasonal trends and direction going forward. The list really goes on and on!!
What is the first thing you do when you suddenly think of a design?
It depends on where I’m at…if I’m out and about, I’ll write myself a quick email describing it so that it doesn’t escape my mind. Or I’ll jot it down in my notebook so it’s there for good. Half the time when something pops into my mind, I sort of obsess on it until I share it with the team and we bring it to life.
When and where do you find yourself getting most creative?
I’m definitely most inspired by vintage. I thrive off of that initial process of how a collection is born. Sometimes it’s the smallest detail that triggers the root of a range. A simple print might become so much more when all of a sudden you sit it next to an old record cover or an upholstered chair. I love looking at things out of the box…like how a trim on a pillow could become a beach tote shoulder strap or a trim on a jacket. Traveling is also another huge source of inspiration. It gets you out of your routine…shakes things up and allows you to see through truly open eyes.
What’s your favorite step in the design process?
I’d say it’s the very beginning…when the canvas is blank. It’s when you’re not yet tainted by thoughts of pricing constraints or creating an update to this or that. It’s a wide open sea and you’re about to set sail!!
Where does your inspiration come from when designing a collection? Any travels, homes, places, beaches, people?
As I mentioned, travel is huge! I’m definitely a beach lover, so anywhere hot and sandy, preferably with waves, inspires me!! I love the random connections you make…meeting new folks and soaking up everything along the way. I also love blogs and like most creative hungry people, get totally lost in them!! I’m super inspired by people’s homes and totally geek out on home good mags and blogs!
How do you refresh your creativity when you hit a dry spell?
It’s funny because at the start of every season I think to myself “how can we do it again…how can we come up with something better, fresher”…and then we start shopping prints, opening our hearts and our minds and the ideas start flooding in. Knock on wood, I haven’t really had a dry spell yet…there’s just too much inspiration out there to not be inspired. And when you work with such a talented team, the possibilities are endless!!
Describe in your own words the current Billabong designs…
Billabong has a true bohemian beach lover feel. Whether it’s during the heart of Summer or the sparkle of Holiday, there is always a free spirited flavor that innately threads through the line. It’s never too serious and always takes a playful approach on pattern.
One of my favorite ways to learn about a designer is seeing their home and how they have used their creativity there. Tell us about your home style…
Let’s see…It’s very relaxed and open. White walls, but lots of color in accents and flea market finds. We’ve got lots and lots of pillows (sort of an obsession of mine), hanging chairs, a teepee in our living room, floor seating and rustic wood furniture, macramé wall hangings, shell chandeliers, dream catchers and a mix of lived in vintage furniture with touches of mid century pieces. Our backyard is quite rustic as well…tons of plants, an overgrown garden, lots of lanterns, fruit trees, a wood jungle gym set and plenty of room for picnics and good fun!
Say you are given the opportunity to jetset to three different places, where would you choose to go?
Oh wow…don’t get me started!!! I guess if I had to act quickly I’d say Morocco, Thailand, and Greece.
What items currently make up your favorite go-to outfit?
I would be lost without my vintage high waisted cut-off denim shorts. I pretty much live in them!! I also love an easy relaxed silky spaghetti tank, a vintage metal coin belt that I recently picked up in New York and an easy printed kimono throw. I’ll often throw some printed harem pants, a vintage wrap skirt or beat-up boyfriend jeans in my bag in case it gets chilly.
Describe your perfect day…
Waking up to birds chirping and the sun shining. A fresh pot of organic coffee and the luxury of sipping it unrushed…barefoot, outside on the porch before my girls wake up. Some music, could be reggae, could be jazz, or maybe samba….just depends. Then it’s feeding my little ones a healthy breakfast and off to the beach!! Sharing waves with my husband and swimming in the warm sea with my daughters. A sunset walk on the beach and few more waves to end the day. An early evening picnic with my family. Some live music squeezed in somewhere would be the icing on the cake…and a nightcap glass of wine under the stars with my man! Now that’s what I call a perfect day!