Women's Design Details || An Interview With Lorna Wang

Posted by Brackish Team on

Lorna, Design Director, joined the Brackish team soon after Ben and Jeff launched the company in 2012. She was the second employee ever hired, one that truly embraces and epitomizes the core values of the company. Through collaboration, Lorna has grown our men’s collection into what it is today, and was the lead designer on our brand new women’s collection. Continue reading to learn more about Lorna’s design experience at Brackish

Q: Before working for Brackish did you have experience working with feathers in an artistic way?

A: I actually don’t think I had ever even thought about incorporating feathers into art before working at Brackish. I have an art school background and have always been creative, but I was amazed that when I started working at Brackish that I could actually have a job where I could, and was encouraged to make things every day.

Q: When Ben and Jeff asked you to work at Brackish, what was their initial pitch? What was your reaction?

A: Even from the beginning, Ben and Jeff have shown purpose behind every decision they make when it comes to Brackish and their initial pitch was no different. I learned about Brackish through a job listing on craigslist. The job title was “production assistant,” there was a very small website attached, and I ever so slightly thought that I was going to be lured into the woods. I actually met Jeff at a coffee shop on James Island and he brought a Brackish Bow Tie with him. It was in a wooden box with burlap packaging, exactly like we have now, and he explained the product and the passion behind the brand. My immediate reaction was, “Alright cool, let’s do this!” Even with my art background, I never thought that I would have a job where my sole responsibility was to craft, so coming to work every day feels like a dream. 

Q: Did you see your job as a fashion designer?

A: While Brackish is a high fashion accessories brand, I’ve never viewed my role here as a fashion designer. In the beginning, it was all about creating and problem solving and that’s my perspective to this day. Jeff pushed me to continue innovating and he embraced my creative background which has landed us at a core competency with feathers that is incomparable.  

Q: When Ben and Jeff brought the idea of a women’s collection to you, what was your first reaction? 

A: While I’ve been working intensely on the women’s collection for the past three years, it has been an underlying current since the inception of Brackish. Even before Ben and Jeff brought the idea to me, everyone around us wanted it. Majority of our customers are women buying bow ties for their significant others and they’ve always wanted something for themselves. And, most of our artisans here are female, so the thought has always been in the back of my mind. The first question I asked was, “What do we want to do?” The women’s accessory market opened up the floodgates when it came to design for me, and there’s still so much unmarked territory for us for the future.

Q: What did the three year design process look like?

A: When I began working on this project Jeff ensured me that we wouldn’t rush to market, no matter how much pressure we received. Rather than throwing spaghetti on the walls, he wanted to put our best foot forward when entering the women’s fashion industry. The beauty of my job is that I have the pleasure of working hand in hand with both Ben and Jeff. Ben pushes me to think outside of the box in terms of design, and Jeff pushes me to put myself in the shoes of our customers. With Ben I get the raw bones of his inspiration, and through working with Jeff we bring Ben’s ideas to the next level. At the end of the day, this collection was a no-brainer - it was bound to happen. However, we wanted to make it right and that’s exactly what we’ve done. 

Q: While designing this collection, how many iterations do you think you’ve gone through? 

A: Oh gosh, more than I can count. It was really important to me that we kept the entire design process in house, just as we’ve done from the beginning. This meant that we had to cultivate new relationships and completely educate ourselves on the women’s accessory industry from the ground up. It’s taken a long time and we’ve had several iterations, but I am so proud to say that we’ve designed and crafted this collection in its entirety here in Charleston while focusing on what we do best - feather craftsmanship.  

Q: What kept you grounded during the design process? 

A: Honestly, the light at the end of the tunnel for me has been Ben Ross. His passion for this company and why we do what we do always reminded me of what matters. He texted me a picture last week of a sunset (seen below) explaining how excited he is for the release, and it explained everything to me. He is my North Star when it comes to designing because he is the epitome of Brackish. His passion for this company and the family of employees that we have kept me grounded and gave me motivation to make this collection the best it could be.

Q: What was the most challenging part of the design process for the women’s collection?

A: The most challenging part of the design process was bringing our visual aspirations and sketches to life as jewelry pieces themselves. We could describe with words, and even draw, what we wanted this collection to look like, but the challenge was bringing it to life as there’s nothing like it on the market. 

Q: What’s your favorite piece out of the women’s collection? Why?

A: Ahh, I can’t just pick one! For lack of a better word, I’m infatuated with the Louisa. I love it for its simple, everyday design that adds a subtle pop of color. The Parades screams “THAT’S IT!” to me - it’s the statement earring that can easily transition from day to night. Currently I’m wearing the thin McKinney cuff. It’s subtle, pairs well with all colors, and I love stacking it with other bangles I previously owned.

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