As someone who grew up here in Orange County, I always felt that we got lost between our big neighbors, Los Angeles and San Diego, but we have so much to offer! Now more than ever, Orange County is really thriving with creativity. We are more than beaches and Disneyland. New restaurants, shopping areas, galleries, art walks, and more have made Orange County a worthy destination!
I thought it might be fun to start a semi-regular feature where I interview creative people working and/or living in Orange County. These people might be designers, shop owners, chefs, photographers, and more. Let's get to know our neighbors! At the end of each interview, I will ask the person to share some of their favorite spots in OC to help add to the growing roster of things to see and do.
My first interview is with Kristine Casillas, a Visual Merchandiser at Anthropologie. She currently works in their new South Coast Plaza store. Before joining the team at Anthropologie, she spent 6 years doing visuals at H&M at the Beverly Center. And before that, she spent 3 years at Saks Fifth Avenue in Mission Viejo. Kristine is actually one of my best friends, so maybe I kind of cheated having her be my first interview. But she is seriously one of the most badass chicks I know! When one of us has an idea for something we want to make, like a wedding centerpiece, or something we want to make for our homes, and we are aren't sure where to start, Kristine is always the one knows exactly what we need to do. We put her in charge of all projects where we need things to look good. She is the trusted one who showed up at all our weddings before guests arrived to make sure everything was exactly the way we envisioned. I swear, if you gave her some dental floss, floral wire, a box, and some glue, she could MacGuyver you a boat to get off a deserted island. Introduce yourself!
Howdy, my name is Kristine and I'm a Visual Manager at Anthropologie.
I think a lot of people would say that doing visuals at Anthropologie would be a dream job!
I would agree with those people. I've been doing visuals for many moons, and working for Anthropologie is the bees knees! The creative freedom we have is pretty rad! As a Visual Manager, my job is to think creatively, inspire my team, and push the envelope when it comes to displays and merchandising. I also send a million emails, budget, and spend entire days planning for windows and other displays.
You guys have to get really down and dirty doing what you do. I'm talking power tools and more. What else do you do?
Every store has a DC (Display Coordinator), who are real "down and dirty" craftsmen (or women). Together, the DC and I come up with window and display concepts, and she does most of the constructing for our displays. I help, of course. We use your basic power tools (chop saw, jigsaw, drills and nail guns), but we also get to use fun stuff like crockpots for melting tons of wax, chicken wire (for just about everything), wood burning tools, blow torches, and a lot of dye.
Using natural, organic materials is very important to the company. It's all about how we manipulate them. Our current windows show just that - we've dyed rocks and wheat and displayed them in a pretty interesting way.
No one is an expert at everything but everyone who works for Anthropologie is an expert at something. Whether its sculpting, sewing, knitting or painting, we all have something to bring to the table... and if there's something we dont know how to do, YouTube usually has a demo to teach us. We usually go home covered in sawdust, brightly dyed fingers, and plenty of bruises.
Your job requires you not just to be a store decorator, but a merchandiser too. Tell me more about that.
Merchandising is what I do most of the day. I have a Merchandiser too. Together, we are responsible for merchandising our apparel and home goods in a way that will inspire our customer to dress herself and her home.
We first separate the apparel and home goods into different concepts. Each concept represents a different customer, usually a "bohemian" type and some sort of "preppy-with-a-vintage-twist" type. Each girl has a unique story to tell, and this is my favorite part - telling her story. We brainstorm and think about who each girl is, what music she listens to, her favorite blogs, where she lives, what she might do for a living. We actually get to spend our day researching different blogs and magazines to get inspiration! Sometimes a movie or an artist is our inspiration.
Once the clothes come in, we decide who would wear it and place into that concept. We then create color stories based on a "narrator" (that key item that she would totally wear), then merchandise the apparel to create outfits for you to buy! Then we add the last layer... accessories, books, candles and plants go into each concept.
Then finally, we dress our forms. We try very hard to be very creative in the way we style our forms. I try to make you rethink how you can wear something. I bet you didn't know how much thought and work went into merchandising!
Store displays change quickly. Is your job pretty fast-paced?
Very. I work 5 days a week from 6am - 3pm. 3 of the 5 days we receive new apparel; new apparel that has to be merchandised the same day. That means we're constantly moving things around, changing things up and I usually only have from 6am to 10am to do the majority of it.
Our windows and indoor displays are a little different. Once they are set up, they don't change for about 6-8 weeks, but they take that long to install from concept to prototype to actual installation. So once one is installed, we're already conceptualizing the next one.
As the Visual Manager, I am responsible for creating and sticking to timelines. Planning is my middle name, which is funny because in my personal life I'm more of a "fly by the seat of my pants" type!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to do what you do?
I don't think school is essential, but it can help. Most people who do what I do started sales associates with a "flare for fashion." If that's you, then I suggest you talk to your store's Visual Manager and ask to be put on projects and apparel moves, learn how to merchandise, then work your ass off impressing your visual team. If you are in school, then apply for an internship. We use interns all the time. Another idea is to talk to small boutique owners (especially around Christmas) about doing their windows. If you can come up with a fairly inexpensive and creative window concept, they'll probably say yes! Then you will have something to start your portfolio.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not beautifying stores?
When I'm not beautifying stores, I'm focusing on my 3 kids. I love throwing over-the-top themed birthday parties. I craft for my home and friends too. I'm a bit of a hoarder, so I frequent flea markets and yard sales. I'm trying to revive my sewing skills next. I actually have a degree in fashion design, so it's about time I start putting it to use.
What would be your dream life?
My dream life?! I'd be a lady of leisure, traveling the world, collecting treasures for one of my many homes, while being intoxicated. (I laughed at this)
I'd be pretty happy being a set designer for a rad show like Mad Men.
Anthropologie has this guy who travels the world buying one of a kind art and furniture (all that amazing old furniture in our stores are from awesome places like belgium circa 1870)... I'd like to have his job.
And maybe one day, I'd like to own my very own children's boutique.
Can you share some of your favorite local Orange County spots?
My favorite places to eat in OC are Memphis, Bruxie, TK Burgers, and that place we get nachos for your birthday! (El Progreso in Lake Forest. Formerly Carmel's). I love shopping at the Orange Circle. Santa Ana has a cool little artsy fartsy area too.
Kyle's Sunday morning tunes while he and Zoey read their comic books, and I made pancakes.
This cracks me up and makes me all melty-like :)
Dudes! I chopped it off! I don't know what came over me, but I had an appointment to get my hair cut, and a week before the appointment, I just decided I wanted to get rid of most of my hair. I am glad I did, now that I see that dead-looking ratty-ass ponytail.
What I wore for our anniversary. We ditched the kid and spent the day in LA. My favorite part of the day was eating a churro filled with lechera (sweetened condensed milk) at Olvera Street. My least favorite part is that somewhere during our day, our debit card info was stolen and a couple weeks later I found $300+ of fraudulent charges on our account. They spent our money mostly at gas stations and parking meters. What really bums me out is that the addresses of the places they used the fraudulent card are all close to Olvera Street. I love Olvera Street so this was disappointing. Next time we go, we will use cash only. Fortunately, we were able to get our money back and I reported it.
Gosh, I feel like so much has been going on and yet I don't have pictures of everything! Our best friends moved, so that's a super bummer because they lived in the same condo complex as us, and now they live out in the middle of nowhere. No more walking over to Rachael's in my jammies for a cocktail, or clipping herbs from her herb garden. *whines* I guess now I have to start my own herb garden.
Then, a week later, our next door neighbors moved. They are rad and were good neighbors.
Now accepting applications for neighbor friends. Must love cheese plates.
I have a new regular feature I am starting, so look for it on Wednesday!
I have been so busy lately, I've hardly had time to post! But I wanted to share something special with you today.
A couple months ago, I wrote a long, heart-felt post about leaving my job at Paul Frank for a new and exciting thing. Now I'm ready to talk about that new, exciting thing. I've been working at a company called Project 7. Project 7 works with 7 different areas of good around the globe, partnering with nonprofits to help provide financial support and raise awareness. Those 7 causes are: Heal The Sick, Save The Earth, House The Homeless, Feed The Hungry, Quench The Thirsty, Teach Them Well, and Hope For Peace.
I was hired mainly to revamp their tee line (something I won't be able to share until after it launches), and while I've been working on that, there have been "odds and ends". One of those "odds and ends" was actually my "interview project" to brand their Feed The Hungry "We've Got A Lot Of Mouths To Feed" campaign. This included the mouth logo, custom lettering, overall feel of the graphics, and a line of "city pride" tees and iPhone cases.
Current favorite cheeses. For a while, I was trying all sorts of new cheeses, making weekly stops at The Cheese Shop, and making myself cheese plates for dinner with all the accoutrements. But I was really starting to put on weight, which I seem to do very easily, so I had to stop. I'm back on cheese, but not as crazy as before. I've started portioning it out right after I open it so that I won't go overboard. I make little indentations in it with a knife so I know where to cut it when it's time to eat it. I also try to buy cheeses with stronger flavors, where a little bit goes a long way. The unmarked one is my go-to blue cheese, Blue Castello. It's a creamy blue cheese that's tasty on it's own, but also melts really nicely.