A couple of months ago, while I was studying abroad in London, I was invited to a multitude of press events – one being Urban Outfitters’ S/S 2014 press day. While perusing the space, which was a vinyl record store that had been transformed for the special event, a woman with a brown fur coat and a top knot bun stopped me in my tracks inquiring about the Bambi purse I was carrying. “I got it from Irregular Choice,” I exclaimed; later striking up a conversation about her life and career in the fashion industry as a visual merchandiser. Before I left, I made it my duty to get her contact information, as her personality and spunk for life was delightful and heartwarming.
Luella Lane may be known in the industry as Louis Vuitton’s new visual manager for their U.K and Ireland sector, as well as Urban Outfitters’ former European style manager, but her credentials and creative passions stretch further than that of the titles she has held over the years. It is my utmost pleasure to have her on as the first subject of my new “Stylish and Successful” series for the blog. So without further ado, I present the down-to-earth and successful, Luella Lane.
1) How did you get your start in fashion and visual merchandising?
It was an accident to be honest. I used to be a dancer and had an injury, so I didn’t know what to do with myself. My friend was working at the Diesel store and asked if I wanted some part time work and some free clothes. Yes, please! We were a small store and all took part in the store’s appearance. Diesel was a very visual company, so we were always changing the displays, windows, mannequins and finding other ways to make the store more successful. I soon realised I could have a career in visuals, so I sought my sights on progressing within the company. Two years later, I was promoted to the US head office in NYC and was responsible for the visual management for the U.S stores. Two lessons learned: I was in the right place at the right time, and hard work pays off.
2) Was there a specific moment in time where you immediately knew working in a creative field was what you wanted to do as a career?
After my dance life came to a halt, it felt like a mid life crisis. How often are you good at more than one thing in your life? I came from a creative background, so it was just a matter of channelling my past skills into something else artistic and visual. When I ended up going to uni to study fine arts I realised I was good with my hands, but I needed to do something that involved working with my hands and making money! Diesel gave me this opportunity.
3) If you could describe your style in one sentence, what would it be?
East meets west street.
4) Are there any particular people you are often inspired by?
I’m inspired by lots of different people for different reasons, but the only one that really matters in the grand scheme of things is my mother. She came from nothing and went through incredible hardships during her life. She only knows how to give to others. She is the most selfless and giving person I have ever known.
5) If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
I wouldn’t tell myself anything, and I can only say that because I have led a very fortunate life. Everything in my life has happened for a reason. I am the person I am because of the path I have travelled. I had to learn from my mistake along the way. There’s nothing anyone could have said to me along the way; I had to learn it for myself.
6) For young people aspiring to work in fashion or any other creative field similar to it, what is one piece of advice you think they could use for their careers?
1) Find what your strengths are.
2) If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.
3) Set goals. Try to get as much experience as you can – that is the only way to learn and to find out if you enjoy what you’re doing!
4) Be kind to others.
Thank you Luella for your time and insightful knowledge. Check back for more “Stylish and Successful” interviews in the future.
Photograph courtesy of style.de