Photo courtesy of Camilla
You might not be familiar with Camilla Franks just yet, but you definitely know her work.
As the director, designer and founder of Camilla, she’s a self-made pioneer in the fashion biz. Her dreamy designs embody a wanderlust spirit, with each and every garment inspired by her travels across the globe. And with clothing so compelling, celebs can’t keep their hands off her gorgeous designs.
Arguably her biggest fan, Beyoncé (almost) exclusively relies on Camilla as her resort wear design of choice—c’mon, those breezy caftans were practically made for Queen Bey. Vanessa Hudgens is also among the Australian designer’s biggest fans, as is Olivia Palermo and dozens more A-list fashionistas.
We caught a glimpse of the designer’s Sydney-based headquarters, and chatted with her about everything from her print-designing process to working with Beyoncé. So go ahead—read on to hear from Camilla herself!
What was your first job?
I started my first business when I was 17 and I still in school. It was an event company called Franks and Becks. Then, after I finished school, I worked for John Singleton Advertising, where I worked mostly with their TV production team.
How did you get started in your career?
After my first job, I transitioned from advertising to acting school, where I focused on being a theatre actress. The training really opened my mind and I immersed myself in acting, reading, writing and creating characters. I fell in love with creating my own costumes and felt really at home.
What is a typical day like for you?
I don’t have many typical days; my schedule is always changing. I’m traveling tomorrow for three weeks to Tibet and China for our next inspiration trip, and then I’ll end my trip in New York City. I’ll be away for nearly six weeks.
Regardless of where I am, I always start my day with morning mediation to center and clear my mind. When I’m home, I’ll also walk my dogs, Beau and Gypsy. I then head into the design office to start my workday. Most of my day is spent working with the design team to develop our collections, plus I also have regular catch-ups with all departments within the business on upcoming projects. The day is often mixed in with some media appointments.
Tell us about your office décor. When did you last give your office a makeover?
Our office’s canvas is fresh, white and clean. I feel it is easier to work in a white space and let the clothes, prints and designs sing. We then layer the office with pieces found on my travels. We evolve our entrance and showroom each season with the new collection and its inspiration. Other decor changes occur as I find new pieces. We just added in two enormous Stone Catchers to our entrance and they feel like a blessing as we welcome you into the world of Camilla. We’ve also recently outgrown our current HQ space and are on the hunt for a new office. I can’t wait to create something theatrical and wonderful there.
What’s the best part about your job?
My dream for the company is bigger than just fashion; it’s creating goodness. It’s about a full vision with heart. The plan is to rehabilitate women in third world countries, particularly in India, by providing them with strong skill-sets, education, purpose and a safe community. The other great thing about my job is my team. I have a big dream and to accomplish that you need an amazing team. Martin Luther King Jr. best described power as the ability to affect change; and I know, with this team, we can make magic happen. This is what makes me tick
What was your reaction when you first saw Beyoncé wearing one of your pieces?
I felt deeply honored. I regard Beyoncé as one of the most influential women of our time, and to have her wear my pieces is an absolute honor. For me, she is a creative wanderer and epitomizes the Camilla woman for us.
Do you ever chat directly with Beyoncé or her stylists? Which items does she usually pick out?
Her stylists work directly with our team to make sure she has the Camilla pieces she loves each season. She has selected lots of different styles from kaftans, playsuits, tops, skirts and swim.
Have you ever designed any custom pieces just for her?
No—but I would love to.
Which other big-name celebrities have you worked with?
The label has been so blessed to have been worn by so many influential women, like Georgia May Jagger, Kate Hudson, Goldie Hawn, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lopez, Vanessa Hudgens, Miranda Kerr, Sofía Vergara, Nicki Minaj, Alessandra Ambrosio and Olivia Palermo. Influencers such as Natasha Oakley, Rocky Barnes and the Sydney fashion blogger Shanina Shaik have worn Camilla as well. They are a testament to the Camilla spirit.
What is your design process? And what are your biggest sources of inspiration right now.
Traveling is the primary source of my inspiration. The discovery of cultures fuels my creativity. Each Camilla design is infused with a story: the destination and the adventure. I am also inspired by wonderful women and I design for all of them: mothers, daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters. We want women to look and feel beautiful no matter their age, size or culture.
Do you design your own prints?
Yes I do. Traveling is the primary source of my inspiration. The discovery of places and cultures fuels my creativity. I travel often—I travel far and wide. I get off the beaten path. It is not unusual for me to take 20,000 photos on an inspiration trip to inspire my exclusive print designs. They are a poetic collision of imagery and personal experiences and heart songs translated into the evocative and beautiful prints, designed to capture the essence of destinations, people and cultures.
Who are some of your career heroes?
Steve Jobs: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.”
Also, I recently read Richard Branson‘s autobiography and was really inspired by his business acumen, his drive to take risks and his ability to accept that he won’t always get it right! Failing and picking yourself back up and striving towards a new project is an incredibly powerful thing. I also share his vision about a business not being linear… A business should also be about vision, about heart and about the bigger picture.
What’s the most daring career risk you’ve ever taken?
Starting this label! It has challenged me to my absolute core being; professionally and personally. I don’t do things by half measures, so everything that my team and I do—events, photo shoots, showings—are all full scale, which initially, for a start-up brand, was a huge risk, but I was determined to not take any baby steps!
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