The coolest thing about writing a blog, I get to write about things i.e. people, places, ideas etc. that inspire me. Hopefully you will find them interesting as well.
Here, I chat with a savvy designer who has been promoting eco-sensibilities before it became “fashionable” to do so, plus she’s a cool, young new mom balancing work, baby and a committment to impacting the world, one eco-luxe outfit at at a time.
I met Nicole Bridger when I worked at lululemon athletica about five years ago. She arrived to helm Oqoqo, an eco-clothing line, fashioned of sustainable fabrics that aimed to traverse the realm of stylish streetwear and yoga. Nicole’s talent was apparent – she had worked with Vivienne Westwood in London, where she developed an eye for the sculptural flow of clothing, design and cut. Yet it is her awareness of the big nature that surrounds us in the Northwest that inform her eco-sensibility and committment to creating fashion in a sustainable way.
Today, Nicole has her own eponymous line, sold in boutiques across North America and online, clothing I love it for its feminine detailing, flow and the organic luxury of the fabrics she uses – organic cotton, soy, bamboos and organic wool all feature prominently – and the “I am Love” affirmations, a gentle reminder sewn delicately on care tags inside each piece.
Nicole chatted with Yogue about some of her inspirations, the challenges of being a young mother and designer and living an eco-life, as she unveils her Spring 2010 collection.
Y. Did you always want to be a designer? How did you get interested in designing ?
N.B. I started sewing my own clothes in grade 7 but always thought I was supposed to be a vet. But then my first boyfriend in grade 11, his father is a shoe designer and a lightbulb went off that I could do what I love and make a living from it. So since then I have been on the path to create my own line.
Y. Where did you study art/ design?
N.B. Ryerson University in Toronto. They have a four year fashion design degree program.
Y.Any mentors / people that inspire you?
N.B. Vivienne Westwood, she has stayed true to who she is and just does what she wants.
Y. Why sustainable fabrics? From a design point of view?
N.B. I grew up recycling, once you care about the earth you cant turn it off, so I always knew that I would create a company that was conscious and responsible. It’s just my style.
Y. Describe a typical day in your life.
N.B. Well right now I work part time. So half of my week I am a mom to an 11month old baby boy and the other half I am a designer and business owner. On a work day, I wake up at 6 with my baby, feed him and myself breakfast, the babysitter comes at 8am and I have a shower and get to work. I answer emails, fill online orders. Then I take care of production, or fabric ordering or pattern-making. I have lunch at noon with my baby. Maybe I have a meeting with my brand manager or my web programmer, I run down to the factory. I finish up my day in time for dinner at 5:30pm and then bathe my baby and put him to bed. Sometimes I go out for dinner with friends or just stay home and go to bed early. On my mom days I do fun activities with my baby and I also get to go for a workout.
Y. What are some of the ideas inspiring you / informing your next collection.
N.B. I’m inspired by what I am learning in my life or what I am going through in my life at the time I am designing. For example Spring 10 is called “community” and is about the importance of finding your community at every stage of your life. When I had a baby, I realized that my community was changing but I still needed that support.
Y. Do you consider yourself a Vancouverite? What’s so special (or not) about living in vancouver?
N.B. Absolutely I am a Vancouverite, I was born and raised here. I love Vancouver. I love being able to walk the beach, go snowboarding or kayaking. We have a lot of great restaurants here too. It’s just a great balance of nature and city, which is perfect for me.
Y. How do you reconcile working in the fashion industry with your eco- sensibilities? Are you involved in any eco-initiatives in the fashion industry?
N.B. There are always little eco events happening that I like to be a part of, but for the most part I think I am helping to pave the way for other eco designers. There seems to be a lot more popping up here in Vancouver.
Y. What’s it like being a mom and having a full time career?
N.B. It is busy. All your time is accounted for. But I love it. It is always challenging and interesting.