I managed to snag an interview with Rebecca when she was in London last month to grill her on first jobs, wardrobe disasters and fashion empires…
LPA: What was your first job in Fashion?
RT: When I moved here from New Zealand I got a job as a styling assistant. I was 20 and had no idea what to do, I just turned up wearing overalls without a clue. I remember standing there being able to hear the stylist and the people in the other room saying “What the bloody hell is she doing? Doesn’t she know what to do?” because no, I didn’t and no one took the time to tell me so needless to say I never got another job doing that!
LPA: How did you decide to launch your eponymous label back in 1996? Had running your own international fashion brand always been your goal? Or did something happen that prompted you to set up on your own?
RT: When I started my label I was just 26 and when you’re that age you don’t think all that far in the future. It was more a case of that seems like a good idea, I’ll do it. I just thought it was something I could do so why not… Lucky I did! It’s been quite a ride, not easy but fun.
LPA: Setting up your own fashion label is a brave move, but one that has paid off enormously in your case. What do you feel has been the secret to your brand’s success?
RT: I think because I am a woman and so I can identify with what clothes women really love to wear. I am my customer. I’ve got a couple of kids but I’m still really in to fashion and just because I’ve turned forty it doesn’t mean suddenly I want to look like my mum. I think that’s what a lot of women really respond to. It’s cool, it’s hip, it’s urban, but it’s not too mumsy.
LPA: What do you think is the key to good personal style?
RT: Knowing what suits you is the key thing and then having a lot of it! When you travel to another country you always pack wrong because you don’t wear things that you wear at home but you should just pack what you wear everyday where you’re coming from and just be like, ‘why would it be any different because I’m in England’, you know? I came here with all the wrong clothes and ended up at Selfridges last night having to buy tights and sneakers.
LPA: What has been you proudest moment in fashion?
RT: This is going to sound really cheesy but I’d say Kate Middleton wearing my outfit. That was really cool. I think for my mum and dad too that was probably their proudest moment.
LPA: What advice would you give to someone hoping, or planning, to launch their own company?
RT: They should go in with their eyes wide open. It’s incredibly difficult, incredibly intense and it’s really not for the faint hearted so just know what you’re getting yourself in to. Be prepared to work really, really hard. It’s very little glamour, it’s not like it’s fashion week every day. Also, always stick to your vision. People are going to tell you a lot of things but just stick to what you believe in and try not to get distracted.
LPA: When you’re adding to your team, what do you look for in potential interns or employees? Obviously they have to be competent, but are there any other qualities or qualifications that are particularly important to you?
RT: Qualifications, no. I never look to see where people went to school for instance. It’s not of interest to me really. What I look for is integrity, someone with a sense of humour is really important. In fashion you have to be able to laugh at yourself and at others! We work really hard, we work really long hours… and I usually quiz them on their David Bowie knowledge!
LPA: What’s next for you? Any big plans/aims for further brand expansion?
RT: We’re probably going to be opening a standalone store in London in the near future. We’ve got a lot of plans. We’re doing big retail expansion at the moment so that’s the main focus for the future of the brand.
Love Ella. X