SUSAN VAZ - CREATIVE DIRECTOR
What is your role with Band of Boys?
I am the founder and owner but within the team I am known as the Creative Director.
Tell us a bit about how you came to work at Band of Boys?
I started the business in 2013. It was all very organic with slow beginnings. My husband and I had already started another business so I was already working in a small business environment and I knew I wanted to do something that I was passionate about. I had just had my first son and I love fashion so doing kids fashion just seemed like a good idea.
Take us through what a typical day for you looks like?
My day starts early with some exercise, then I get in to the office early as my husband takes care of the kids in the morning. What I do at work each day is always extremely varied and where my focus goes really depends on what part of our seasonal cycle we are in. I usually have quite a few production emails that have come in overnight from our factories as we always either have samples being made or our bulk production is underway. Then I will try to get stuck in to a chunkier piece of work like working on some strategy, writing our journals, planning look books, designing a new range, logistics, accounts or communicating ideas/plans with the team. Throughout the day I also regularly check in with my team on how the projects we are working on are progressing. At about 4.30pm I leave the office to pick the kids up, head home and get on with after school activities, homework and cooking dinner. If we are at a crucial production stage, or if I’ve had a last minute idea I want to communicate then I will check in with my factories in the evening as that is when their work day starts and then I look forward to some downtime reading and then sleep!
What is your all-time favourite item by Band of Boys?
I love newness so I am always more excited about pieces in our upcoming collections but I still love the Tiger Badges tee from the SS18 season.
What are your mini’s favourite garments?
My youngest Lenny is all about jackets at the moment and his go-to is the Bandits Lightning Tiger Bomber. Tyler just loves wearing shorts as often as possible so he has the Bandits Lightning Tiger shorts on high rotation.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I love designing a new collection and seeing how the whole story comes together when we receive the samples – it actually feels more fun than Christmas!
Winter or Summer season? Which do you prefer?
Personally I love Autumn as its cold enough to wear some great layers and all of the pieces that I love the most like coats, blazers, jeans, boots and knits but it's not too cold. Sunny Autumn days are the best.
What is life like outside of Band of boys?
When I’m not at work my life revolves around my two boys – the week is pretty hectic but it’s nice to spend the afternoons with them. We all have dinner together and we chat about all kinds of things and often we will read about different kinds of animals as the boys are obsessed with animal facts. We are all homebodies so on the weekends you will often find us at home chilling out, playing sports, having friends over and getting things done. We love to travel as a family so we are looking forward to being able to do that again.
What is your go to staple item for a boy?
As a family, we all love going out for dinner so our skinny jeans are an absolute must.
What was your first job out of University, and how did you land that position?
My first marketing job was in the sports wholesale industry. My friend suggested I apply, I got the job and a few years later my (then) boss became my husband!
How did you come to start Band of Boys and what was it like in the early days?
I just started by doing things really small at the beginning and it has just been bigger steps forward as the time felt right ever since. The early days were both easier and harder in so many ways – a LOT of self-motivation was required! I learnt an awful lot about so many things I had never done before
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before starting your own business what would it be?
What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?
My biggest mistake was right at the beginning when I started working with offshore manufacturers – they were telling me the timing would be a LOT shorter than it was and I didn’t have the experience to know any better. Thankfully it just ended up that I put a pause on that collection and I launched it a year later which turned out to be the best thing I could have done.
Do you have a set process or specific methods for bringing a design to life?
My design process is becoming more refined, especially now with much bigger collections to put together. I start by making notes and snapping pictures of things that I think could evolve the brand. I then put together a document of the garment styles and colours I want to see in the range and then I brief in our illustrator. Once the illustrations come back, I visualize the whole garment and a digital mock-up is made. From here tweaks are made and as I make sure the whole collection goes together, is balanced from a colour perspective and has a cohesive story.
Are there particular materials or colours that you like to work with?
As a brand we are all about comfort so knitted cottons make up most of our collections – at the moment I am exploring rib, waffle and other delicious textures.
Where do you find inspiration for new designs?
I find most of my inspiration from what I see trawling through Net-a-Porter and Farfetch – I get a sense of colours and textures and I love seeing how brands are pushing boundaries with their designs.
What do you look for when thinking of doing collabs or finding new designers to partner with?
I like doing things that are a little bit unexpected, I try to not follow trends too closely so I look for others who have a similar vibe.
Favourite clothing item you have created (and which range)?
This is hard as it is always something that’s in my head and not yet produced!
What’s been your favourite season and/or collab to work on and why?
It was super fun putting together our Band of Boys X Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collab. It felt really special putting our spin on a classic 90s show that I grew up watching.
What do you feel are the 3 most versatile garments in a boy’s wardrobe?
A great jacket or zip hood, a statement tee and some wear-with-anything trackies or shorts. You can get through many seasons and occasions with these three items!
How has your design evolved since you began Band of Boys?
I started the brand off with pretty bold design and that has certainly always been a consistent part of our aesthetic. But now we are starting to really refine all of the small details and with the collections becoming bigger we are adding in some more breadth to our design to appeal to different tastes. It has always been really important to me that the brand evolves and you can definitely see that it has when you look back on what we have done over the past 8 years. I believe it is just getting better and better.
What advice would you give someone just starting out in business?
Just start – don’t wait until everything is perfect, but definitely start within your own comfort levels and grow from there.
How do you want children to feel when wearing your clothes?
I want them to feel fabulous, comfortable and totally themselves.
What are your aspirations for your brand?
I am the kind of person who always wants more – I am constantly looking forward and wanting to improve and grow and change things so my aspirations are always big and always evolving. Ultimately though I want to continue to create a brand that lots of people love to buy for their kids because of the passion we have for creating quality products and the interesting things we do in this industry.
Tell us something people may not know about Band of Boys?
We are launching a new brand soon!