Fashion designer Isobel Campbell recently launched her new label Okay Pretty, a collection of summer hazed sustainable swimwear pieces people are going crazy for. We chatted with this City Slicker on her return to Australia after living in London for the past few years to ask about some of the lessons she's learnt in design along the way.
Name: Isobel Campbell
Occupation: Swimwear Designer
Hometown: Sunshine Coast, QLD, Australia
Current City: Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Three favourite European cities: London, Barcelona, Athens
You studied fashion and worked in the industry for other designers for a few years, what were some of the biggest challenges leaving university and working in the field?
No one tells you how hard and how boring it will be for the first few years.You will work long hours, be paid very little and given the most menial brain numbing jobs. I found this very frustrating and disheartening particularly as an outspoken creative person with a million ideas bubbling in my mind.
You were living in London for 3 years, what drew you to London in the first place?
A random Instagram post from Lazy Oaf said that they were looking for a design assistant, so I flew over for an interview. I had thought “what's the worst that could happen? If it doesn’t work out it will just be a great holiday” and I had a return ticket just in case. 3 years later and I still believe it was the best decision I ever made.
What were some of the highlights over there?
For me my proudest moment whilst working with Lazy Oaf was the launch of their first swimwear range that I designed and instigated. And I would definitely have to say my endless European holidays that were just a hop and a skip over the sea.
What drew you back to Australia?
The desire to start my own swimwear label - living the London lifestyle was a massive financial strain and the idea of starting a business without the support of my family was not an option for me. So it was time to come home, oh and I missed the sunshine - cliché I know but it’s true.
Okay Pretty is your new baby - what does Okay Pretty mean to you in three words?
What have been some of the most exciting parts of the development and launch process?
The most exciting part by far is watching a sketch come to life! From a shitty little drawing (I’m not great at drawing) to an ill fitting sample and finally a beautiful swimsuit that women want to spend their money on. It’s the best feeling in the world and It never gets old.
What was the decision process like behind using econyl, the regenerated waste material, for your swimwear?
There are enough bad things going on in the world and I didn't want my baby business contributing to them. I just wanted to do the right thing - so I started by looking into ways to reduce the negative impact that Okay Pretty would have. It was just through research that I came across Econly (a luxury Italian product made from 100% recycled nylon) and I thought what better way could there be than to make beautiful swimwear from reclaimed nylon that not only removes nylons that are dangerous to sea-life, such as discarded fishing nets, but also slows the production of new, wasteful nylon material. Using this fabric does make my swimwear more expensive but I feel that if we don’t all start doing our little bit there will be a bigger price to pay.
Any advice you wished someone would have said to help you start your own brand sooner rather than later?
I wish someone had told me not to listen to the doubters and that you don’t need to wait until you know everything, or have everything planned out you just need to start.
Any advice you can pass onto budding designers?
Be brave! Be kind to everyone and work your little bums off
Okay Pretty can be found exclusively online at www.okaypretty.com.