Designer Interview

By: Fashwire
Jul 12, 2022 02:46 PM

When did you know you wanted to become a designer?

The name “designer” was never a goal, it just sort of happened; though I have always been drawn to good design. As naturally as being a mother to my children. I believe some just are born with that instinct to see design in everything, that’s how it’s always been for me.


What is your earliest design memory for your brand?

I knew I wanted to sew a bag, so I drove to the closest leather store in Portland and when I stepped into the store I was awed, I didn’t know one piece of leather from another, but I just started touching and feeling each piece. After two hours of just searching for the right piece and finally finding it, I went home and made it into a bag. The moment it was finished I felt giddy, it was so perfect, like nothing I had ever seen.


“My intention is to create beautiful products from beautiful natural materials.”


Where do you find inspiration?

I believe I have been greatly inspired by my Swedish background, all the time I’ve spent living and visiting this beautiful country. I have also heard somewhere that when all your basic needs are met, it is then that you can explore your creativity. If it weren’t for all my natural blessings and for my loving children and husband who take such good care of and support me, I would have no inspiration to design.


What is your favorite part about designing?

THAT moment. It’s the one where you have been trying and failing and trying again, when finally, you have it. Finally, it speaks to you. It doesn’t matter what I am designing, but at one point it finally is RIGHT. And my whole body feels it and I want to shout it to the world,“It’s perfect!”


What was your previous work experience before launching your brand?

I chose to go into Dental Hygiene as it was a safe career and one so perfect for a mother, which was what I most wanted to be. Though, during my schooling, I felt compelled to quit and study architecture. I chose to finish my studies and knew I would do something with design later. I worked as a Dental Hygienist for only 4 years before I quit to focus on O LUCA and to be at home with my young children.


What sets your brand apart from the rest?

I think often it comes to intention and details. My intention is to create beautiful products from beautiful natural materials. Ones that speak to me. The less processed the leathers are the more they speak to me. It’s the smell, the soft touch, the senses that are being stimulated without even comprehending, and then the finest details in the design. When every detail is done by feeling, in the end it sets itself apart from the rest.


What brand values are the most important for O Luca?

Faith and family come first and then everything O LUCA. When I feel at peace and when my family is taken care of, the time I spend on O LUCA is a joy, and it brings with it so many blessings.


What do you envision for the future of your brand?

To continue to be a brand that gives that sense of peace and love to all my wonderful customers, that draws people to those feelings I have put into each and every detail. If that is a big brand or remains small- it doesn’t so much matter to me as long as the message in the brand never changes.


Do you have a favorite piece that you have designed?  

I sold my first bag I ever sewed, and I had a belly ache about it. Then, my customer reached out to me and asked if she could exchange it for another one and I couldn’t believe my luck! I promised then to never sell it and it is very, very special to me. It was the first piece that brought that designers joy to my heart, where I literally jumped up and down and stared at it for hours upon hours. It’s the first one to ever carry the O LUCA logo and I will cherish it forever!


What were some hurdles you had to overcome in your business?

I did my first Tradeshow in Las Vegas in February of 2020, several businesses were interested in wholesale including two large, very known companies. We were on a roll and were so excited about the possibility of going big. Then Covid hit and not only was I forced to let my employees take time off, all the companies we were in talk with were shutting down stores and departments and not taking on new ventures. This was a huge hurdle. I didn’t know what I should do with O LUCA, but I just kept taking care of my customers and doing what I had always been doing. As I look back, I can see what a blessing this was for my family. O LUCA has remained small and after seeing what it could be and what that growth would have demanded from me, I’m not so pressed to try to grow big, fast. We have continued to grow, but slowly, and it feels like the best way possible.


What is the one piece of advice you would give to a new designer?

Oh, that depends on who the designer is! If it’s someone like me who has a family and loves them; then keep being who they need you to be. Be their mother or father, their wife or husband, their support person, and in turn they will give you everything you need, too.


“O LUCA pieces are more than just fashion statements; they are a sense of calm beauty that you just want to keep forever.”


What are the strengths and weaknesses of having a brand based in Portland, Oregon?

The USA is the best place for anyone to own their own business. It’s easy to start. The only weakness is that we have to compete with so many others and the competition is pretty great. But as for starting your own business and running it, we have so many liberties that I don’t think most people even comprehend. I have this loyal community in the Portland metro that is so proud of O LUCA, and many boutiques carry our brand. Your community is your backbone. I am so thankful for the one I have!


How important is social media to your brand?

Social media is not as important for O LUCA as it is for many brands these days because we didn’t jump on socials until 2020 and we started in 2017. It really was a word-of-mouth brand. In the beginning I would pass out business cards with an O LUCA keychain to anyone who commented on my bag. Once at the beginning of my wholesale business, I was in a boutique called Wild Fern in Vancouver, WA and the lady working saw my bag and said “is that an O LUCA?” I couldn’t believe that she knew my bag- and she was my second wholesale account. I really believe that when the feeling is right and the details are right from the beginning, then the rest works itself out. We’ve since jumped onto social media but honestly, it’s really intimidating for me. Maybe someday it will really help, but for now it’s just a way for people who are already looking for us to find us.


What made you want to design bags?

I was on vacation in Northern Sweden and my good friend grabbed my bag that I had bought at Anthropologie and said, “something like this is so hard to find in Europe” and I thought, ‘it’s so hard to find anywhere!’ I knew then that I had to design bags because never in my searches had I come across the bags of my dreams. Most of my customers use their O LUCA bag for years, and sometimes when they are ready for a new one, they just can’t part with the last one because they become a part of them! We get emotionally attached to the bag that we use! I think it’s this longevity that I love. I think the new term for this is “slow fashion”. I’m not designing something to be worn a few times and then tossed, I’m creating pieces that my customers use for years and become a part of them.


What is the most important thing you would like your brand to be recognized for?

O LUCA pieces are more than just fashion statements, they are a sense of calm beauty that you just want to keep forever. The peaceful beauty comes from choosing ethically produced quality leathers that have been minimally processed and vegetable tanned, and then caring deeply for each detail when designing and making each item.


How would you define fashion?

It’s a way for every person to show the world exactly who they are. We wear what we like, what we feel comfortable in. What we feel compassionate about. Each and every wardrobe will tell a life story. There are no one-size fits all in fashion, every person gets to make their own fashion statement every day of the week.