Amy - So for a little bit of background - What inspired you to enter the Mactac Bright Young things Competition on artsthread.com?
Ana - My love for for graffiti and murals. I am obsessed with mural walls, that’s why I applied.
Amy - Can you explain the background to your original design?
Ana - My original design is about what you should bring (or not to bring) to a backpacking trip. The motifs of the print are my packing essentials and my crazy friend’s unusual packing essentials – like, a taser disguised as an iphone 4 and a pepper spray.
Amy - How did you find the the first stage of the competition - when we all met together in Hackney?
Ana - I love anything to do with murals so it was really exciting to learn how a building is wrapped. And to try my own version of wrapping.
I am lucky enough to have become good friends with the other designers (finalists) and we decided to collaborate on other projects. They are really talented and I believe in what they do. I feel accomplished to have made friends in such a competitive environment.
Amy - You have just launched your debut collection for your new fashion brand West Carolina. What has the experience of creating West Carolina been like in the last month?
Ana - It has been a really intense, challenging and rewarding experience at the same time. Everything was meticulously designed – from the hang tags, garment labels, the window display, the actual clothes, the fabrics and the whole environment of the pop up store. I had a lot to manage, multi-task and important decisions to make. Not long ago I had an unrelated part time job, now I manage a team of 5. Plus, I was living outside of London, the studio is in southwest, the shop is in east, so there was a lot of commuting involved. I guess my backpacking skills really helped. It’s like living a nomadic life at the same time you’re building a company.
Amy - We loved the fact that the big reveal of the competition and the launch of your pop up store was coordinated for the same evening. Can you describe the emotion of the opening night?
Ana - The opening night was a dream come true. To see all the work come together. I had a flashback of my journey. Everything I have been through to get to that point, the effort and all nighters were so worthy. The support of Avery Dennison and Mactac was really amazing to make my vision come to life.
Ana - The aspirations for West Carolina is to have a brand that illuminates the world through bold patterns and colour. It could be through clothes, furniture, art pieces. The idea is that it will be an online store, shipping worldwide with occasional pop up shops. I also plan to keep collaborating with other artists and to inspire others to start their creative dream too. I try to push myself really hard with West Carolina to prove to people they can also do it if they put their head into it. In the future I will be offering coaching and workshops for people willing to change career paths or start a creative venture.
Ana - Be brave and go for it. There has never been a better time to start a brand with the advantages of social media. You can jump a few steps and reach out straight to the consumer without having to be auditioned by the industry. Having said that, there is a lot of sacrifice involved. First you need to know if you’re willing to do what it takes to get there. It’s definitely not easy. There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Working late nights while your friends are at the pub, saying no to sunny days in the park and to a lot of fun, convenient things. If you love what you do, it’s very rewarding. The advice I give is to have a part time job in the beginning or even a full time job and do this on the side until you can quit. Have patience, ignore the naysayers, be persistent, keep learning and eventually you will become what you need to be successful.