Introducing Tara, our stupendously talented Head of Mini Boden, Johnnie b and Baby Boden.
Q: Tell us a little bit about what you do:
I work with the design team to put concept, stories, colour palette together and design the range each season.
Q: Where has your career led you before Boden?
I’m actually a returner to Boden. I worked at a number of places before Boden in the States… J Crew, Tommy Hilfiger, Pepe. I then came back to London and worked for Racing Green before Boden from 2000 to 2006 where I was Menswear and Womenswear Designer. I then went freelance, worked for Whistles, Cath Kidston and Joules before coming back last year, almost a year ago to do Mini Boden. Boden is home for me, the people are amazing here which is a fairly consistent comment. The energy, the enthusiasm, the spirit, the intelligence, it’s pretty unique – and that it’s not fashiony. I like that.
Q: What’s the best bit about your job?
Colour. Colour mixing, combining pattern, print colour. Putting a palette together is probably the most exciting part of the season, it really gives me butterflies. The clothes change and they get updated but really, the colours are what make the difference.
Q: What do you find most challenging?
The enormous size of the range actually. I left in 2006 when it was smaller and now the Mini Boden ranges for spring summer ’13 holds about 1400 options, which is a hell of a lot of options to keep inside your head! Trying to remember what each of those colour ways are and what each of those patterns look like.
Q: Will we see the ranges refreshed more often?
There’s a lot of newness happening, again more for spring summer ’13. Autumn ’12 we’ve started to segment slightly differently so Mini is more orientated at the 5-6 core age with Johnnie b core at 11-12 so more tween not teen and starting from 8 upwards not 10 upwards. We want to be really clear to our customers that it is for little girls who are growing up, who are less likely to be dressed by their mothers and much more likely to be making the decisions themselves. So Mini Boden is more nursery, pre-school and starting school. Plus we’re putting more ranges online mostly for spring summer ’13, so there’ll be more than just what you see in the catalogue.
Q: What did you want to be when you were little?
I always wanted to be a designer, it’s slightly bonkers! There may have been a stage I wanted to be a nurse or something like that but fairly young I did want to design clothes which feels really precocious to say now but I just loved clothes. I had an aunt who was in the fashion business and she was my soul mate and I don’t know, it just excited me from an early age. I was curious about how much clothes cost to buy wholesale and how much you made when you sold them on. Just everything about it. Plus the dressing up box side of things as I got older!
Q: Where do you draw your inspiration?
From the children that I see. I’ve got a six year old daughter and twins of two years old so I spend a lot of time in parks, playgrounds, coffee shops and restaurants hoping the children behave. I get inspired by what the children around us are wearing. Where I live in Queen’s Park it’s quite hip – a little bit ‘fashionable’ and the children tend to dress in a way that maybe pushes the boundaries a bit more. But equally I like going out to Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire and seeing what the children are wearing there too. We also get inspired by a bit of vintage and perhaps a bit of what’s in designer shops too but my biggest inspiration is definitely drawn from what I see around me.
Q: How about overseas? Do we cater specifically for our international customers?
We’re British through and through and that’s our USP but we have a big American client on Mini and our American customers have a slightly different approach to how they dress, tending to be bolder with their patterns and bolder with their colour. I grew up in America and spent half of my childhood there so I’m fairly clear on how they like to look but equally when we go and do an inspirational print trip to LA we combine a bit of customer watching in a playground in say Malibu. You find a different flavour and a different type of dressing there and also quite a summery feel which you can see in February, whereas here in July we’re still not quite there.
Q: What can we expect from Mini this autumn?
You can expect a more coordinated range. Without getting matchy matchy I hope we’re a little bit easier to outfit. If you’re a mum like me you kind of want five outfits a season and as imaginative you are with your own clothes with your children it’s about speed. It’s about being confident they’re going to look good – but it’s about speed of dressing and knowing that if they pull something out of the wardrobe it’s pretty much going to work with something else. It will look easier to outfit and a little bit more nostalgic. We’ve taken the English country garden trend and our floral prints are a little bit ditsier and smaller scale, a touch daintier . But we are also bold and colour blocked and Nordic inspired too. So it’s not all softer and prettier. It’s perhaps softer and prettier on baby and in some aspects of girls but on boys it’s pretty colourful with a bit more heritage, jumbo cord in honey colours and chesnutty browns. Lots of tartan… a sort of return to the heritage that Boden had. Quite classic and enduring but with a slightly softer edge.
Q: Describe yourself in three words:
For my age I’m a bit giggly… three words gosh, committed and positive, most of the time!
Q: Who do you admire?
Paul Smith. I think he is very true to what he does. He’s always unexpected but it’s always consistently Paul Smith. He’s not trying to be anybody else.
Q: What book is on your bedside table?
Luella Bartley, Luella’s Guide to English Style.
Q: Last played track on your iPod?
My children tend to overtake the house with nonsense and Moshi Monster music. It is probably (she racks her brain) Kings of Leon, as a go to and Fleet Foxes. And I love hip-hop like Kanye West!
Q: Have you any annoying/bad habits?
I’m quite bossy and I finish people’s sentences for them.
Q: What’s your proudest work achievement?
I sort of just feel proud every time I see someone wearing something I’ve designed. Especially as it does tend to hit you in the face, in London particularly. It’s a consistent joy.
Q: Do you keep things you have designed?
You know what I slightly get bored of anything I’ve worked on. I’m naturally impatient and always want to move onto the next project. I do keep the catalogue but not the real thing. I do however constantly collect inspiration, tears, buttons fabric etc. You never know when it might come in handy.
Q: Which Boden item is your most coveted?
This season I loved the Broderie Peter Pan Top. I also have a silk dress in a very strong bloom from last year which I love – I feel quite dressed up and garden party in it.
Q: What’s top of your wish list from the autumn range?
The Bistro Crops and potentially the Camel Crombi. Those are the two things that stick in my head but also a few of the dresses and a woven top with little butterflies on it. It all feels very new and fresh for autumn.