The must-have designer on her next big move as a brand (women of NY, rejoice!) and what it REALLY takes to launch and grow a business
by Colleen Crivello
SHARE THE LOVE (& THE STYLE)
The current state of Ulla Johnson? Coveted. With a fashion brand that’s so in demand it’s simply referred to as “ULLA” (universally understood among women – trust.) and collections that sell out almost as fast as they land on the retail scene, it’s suffice to say, this major mom of three is killing it!
And what’s more, Ulla’s must-have brand is a pure extension of how she authentically lives her life. From her thoughtfully curated home to her children’s unique perspective on dressing, the layers of her globally inspired and beautifully textured world fully reflect her brand’s ethos, wherein all theses elements are soulfully woven together to tell the story of a life well lived.
We caught up with Ulla and her MINIs for a morning hang in their insanely gorgeous Brooklyn townhouse just before her breathtaking Spring 2017 presentation for NY Fashion Week. We chatted about her next big move as a company (beyond exciting), plus the biggest lesson she’s learned throughout the 15 years since launching her namesake label. We’re in awe, plain and simple.
Photography by: Lindsay Brown www.lindsay-brown.com @lindseabrown
On launching your brand:I felt and still feel that there was a hole in the market for products with integrity of both fabric and silhouette plus an attention to detail and craft.
Next big step for Ulla Johnson:A store in NY! Top secret – stay tuned!! We’re also re-launching our website in November. I’m very excited, it’s going to be lovely.
On continuing to inspire and lead your team:By loving what we do and make together.
What do you hold most valuable when creating a collection that separates your work from other brands or even fast fashion?Our continued emphasis on handmade items and details plus keeping traditional crafts alive. And our work to support far flung groups of makers in a joint effort to create something modern and beautiful.
Love about your work:I love designing clothes and obsessing over every detail to ensure the armhole fits just right and the waist falls where it makes a woman feel the most beautiful. I love playing with colors, embroideries and finishes. And I love creating a beautiful workspace.
The first hour in the office each day is spent… Drinking green juice and checking in with my design team on all of our developments.
Did you raise capital for Ulla Johnson? Any advice for women looking to launch their own brand?Nope. I did it all myself and from virtually nothing. We were able to do this by growing slowly, organically and being very very careful about where we put our resources.
Brands with longevity are rarely an overnight success – how did you handle periods of growth and what’s your biggest lesson learned thus far in terms of running a business?It was frustrating at times, especially when having and raising three children simultaneously. I think patience is important yes, but also stubbornness and perseverance. And a very clear vision of who you are and what type of company you want to create. I think my biggest lesson has been that creativity is one thing but that navigating the intricacies and demands of growing a business is an altogether different proposition. One truly needs to have a handle on both in order to succeed.
A woman/mom/leader that you are most inspired by and why?Hillary Clinton. She is smart, unflappable and is going to be our first female president.
What makes you feel sexy?A tan.
On meeting your husband and how he proposed:We met at a college dance party. I love a man who can dance. He proposed outside of my first studio on Walker Street with an Edwardian rose cut diamond ring he had been painstakingly selecting for months. All my friends had told me about it already ; ).
As a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? An obstetrician.
App that most changed your life: Instagram
Most eccentric piece in your closet: A super embellished Serbian traditional men’s dance vest – it’s tough one to work into your everyday look! 🙂
What you’re wearing if you’re not wearing your own brand:Vintage.
Your teenage style was…Wow. I dabbled in everything except emo – which was way too dreary and sad for me. I definitely went through a hippie phase, a hip hop phase and a clean preppy phase. It’s funny. I still really embrace all those personas.
A styling tip or trick that you swear by:Red lipstick on a naked face.
Recent beauty discovery for women:Joanna Vargas eye and face masks – instantly brightens your complexion, especially post flight.
Your morning and night skincare regime:Morning – face oil and tinted moisturizer. Evening – a rich night cream. I use lavender oil and rose face spray before bed. I love things that smell good and are soothing. Really, that’s it, I keep it pretty straightforward.
Your fitness routine:I go through phases of different exercise classes but my true love is running. It keeps me sane. Plus, I love to be outside. I do the loop in Prospect Park near my home in Brooklyn as often as I can.