We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Rebecca Bolland a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Rebecca, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Do you wish you had started sooner?
There are times where I do wish I had gotten more serious about being an artist earlier in my life, only because I didn’t realize it was a realistic option for me. Looking back, I don’t really regret starting when I did, because I feel like it gave me more time to not only develop my skills, but it also gave me more time to figure out who I am as a fashion designer. Admittedly, parts of me are still figuring it out, but I prefer to see it as something that’s constantly growing and evolving over time.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers.
My name is Rebecca Bolland, and I am the Creative Director for REDxRB, a slow fashion clothing brand located in Orange County, California. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had an interest in fashion, probably starting with five-year-old me telling my mom I needed a pair of Keds, specifically for the blue tab on the heel. She and my grandmother would watch old Hollywood movies, and I would find myself completely enraptured by the heroine’s wardrobe.
For a long time, fashion was just a hobby for me, and not something I could seriously consider. It wasn’t until I started in my college’s fashion design and merchandising program that I knew it was something I could pursue as a lifestyle and career. However, it wasn’t long until I watched The True Cost. that I learned that the industry is complicated and has a dark side. Fashion means something different to everyone, and I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to be a designer with my own label, then I needed to establish strong values that would align with my goal of helping change the industry for the better.
I started REDxRB about a year after I graduated from college, when RAW Artists contacted me about participating in one of their quarterly showcases. I was invited back again a year later, and from there I started to get individual clients asking me to help them either come up with or recreate a look. My first client was a professional singer who would wear a gold gown on stage for her performance, and then a dedicated Swiftie asked me to recreate Taylor Swift’s 2016 Met Gala look for a concert. At the same time, I was working full time for a luxury boutique as a salesperson. By the end of my workday, I wouldn’t have any energy to focus on my art, and I think it led to me really questioning if being a salesperson at a boutique that I didn’t fit in to was worth my time. I was let go, but it became a blessing in disguise. I moved on to a buying position at a secondhand store, and finally had the time and energy to work on both.
Next thing everyone knew, the pandemic had hit and I suddenly had a lot more time on my hands. I started making fabric face masks, and next thing I know, I have an e-mail in my inbox that turned out to be an invite to show a collection at New York Fashion Week! I was so surprised , that I asked several people to look at it, to make sure I didn’t read anything incorrectly. From then on, a spark had been lit in me–a dream that I assumed to be far-fetched was actually coming true! I showed eight full looks that made their debut on a rooftop runway in Soho; it was hectic and fast paced and a bit of a whirlwind, and I can’t wait to do it again.
I primarily work one on one with individual clients that are looking for something specific that will fit their own unique measurements. My highest priority for my clients is making sure that they feel fantastic about themselves in a garment that they’ll love and wear for years to come. REDxRB’s philosophy is that fashion should be joyous, everyone deserves to feel beautiful, and that we need to respect and care for our communities.
Once I feel a little more “established”. my goal is to be able to move forward with manufacturing a few of my designs in small batches, so it won’t lead to unnecessary waste that the industry can be known for. I already have several concepts in mind for my next few collections, so I don’t feel like I’ll be slowing down anytime soon!
We often hear about learning lessons – but just as important is unlearning lessons. Have you ever had to unlearn a lesson?
I’ve had to unlearn that putting myself out there isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s something that I still struggle with, because a lot of creatives know that there’s an anxiety about presenting your work to the public: “what if everyone hates it”, “what if there’s someone more talented than me”, “what if my work isn’t as good”. It eventually comes to a point where I just have to put myself out there as quickly as possible; if I don’t, then I won’t get clients and I won’t be able to do what I love. I know I can do more, but I feel like it’s just the beginning.
In your view, what can society to do to best support artists, creatives and a thriving creative ecosystem?
Commission your local artists! There are a lot of us out there in all kinds of disciplines that have an innate desire to create, and commissions are the best way to show support.