A few months ago, we talked to Eva, founder of Milla, about her ambitions and passions for her fashion brand Milla. She already explained how it takes a whole team to come up with new collections every year. I think it is time to find out who is the master mind, together with Eva, behind Milla’s favorites. We’re talking about creative designer Roos Nap.
Roos is 30 years old, happily married and lives in Utrecht.
‘At Milla I am responsible for the collection designs. Together with Eva we design the collections ourselves. It is my job to finish up the final product, it starts at the production and ends when the collections come into the stores.’
To design a whole collection, you should have lot of interests in the fashion industry. It’s not something you’ll do easily if you don’t know everything about fashion. Has this always been your goal, becoming a fashion designer?
‘I’ve actually always been busy with fashion, it always had my interest. During high school my mom and sister even taught me how to sew so that kept me busy those days. After high school I really wanted to go to AMFI (Amsterdam Fashion Institute), but my parents thought that wasn’t a “real” study. So that’s when I started studying law which I knew from day one that I hated it. So, after half a year I quit that study and went to London for another half a year, hoping that I could figure out what I wanted to do next. It didn’t take long before I decided to go through with what I always wanted to do, go to AMFI. Since day one that I started, I immediately felt like this was where I was supposed to be.’
So, it took you some time before you got where you wanted to be. You can say that you have enough motivation and ambition when it comes to fashion. I think you can be proud of the amazing collections you are responsible for here at Milla. That you are now responsible for Milla’s favorites. But, what did it take you to get here after you graduated from the fashion academy? ‘Besides what I’ve already learned at AMFI, the internships we’re where I really started to learn about this industry. I did my internship at a leather brand in Amsterdam, where I’ve stayed and worked for six years. Here I was responsible for private label customers and of course designing and producing the collections. A year ago, I thought it was time for a change, that’s when I started here at Milla where I couldn’t be happier.’
I’m sure that you have a very creative and open mindset when it comes to designing a collection. You have to keep thinking of new designs, prints and fabrics. I can imagine that it could be difficult sometimes. Where do you get your inspiration to keep coming up with new creations? ‘Yeah it can be a challenge sometimes to be continuously innovative when it comes to improving the collections. But, that’s actually what I love about my job. Every day, I am busy collecting inspiration from things around me. When I see new and beautiful colors, people wearing nice clothes or just some inspirational details, I take pictures of it. Besides that, Eva and I always keep in touch about things we think is inspirational for the collections. We are unknowingly always busy creating new stuff for Milla.’
So, it sounds like you always have something where you can collect inspiration. Does it even ever happen that you’re stuck when it comes to designing a new collection? ‘For sure. Sometimes there can be a lot of pressure when it comes to deadlines. Every year we have to design six full collections. It is more than reasonable that I do have a black-out sometimes. It is important to take a step back when that happens. Give your mind something else to think about so that when you do have inspiration you can fully focus on a design.’
In the previous interview with Eva she already told us a little bit about how you adjust trends to the collections. You look at what kind of trends match with Milla’s vision. Can you explain how you do that? ‘In the collections that we create, there is a perfect balance between feminine and bold. When I first started designing for Milla, I had to find my way in their vision, but Eva and I compliment each other a lot. I am more the feminine side of Milla, and Eva gives it that tough and bold twist. There can be a feminine dress in the collection that we then style with a tough biker or denim jacket. It has to be feminine and powerful, but not too girly. And of course, we do follow trends, but if it is too different from Milla’s vision, then we choose to maintain the identity of the brand instead of following these trends.’
If you have to design up to six collections a year, I can imagine that you are constantly busy with designing these collections. The process of finishing one of these collections can be very long. What does this process look like? What does it take before it is ready to be launched? ‘It takes about a year to produce and create one full collection. In the first weeks we’re constantly busy brainstorming, collecting inspiration, making mood boards and looking at the bestsellers from previous collections. When I’m finished with my first few designs, I send them to our supplier who will make a prototype sample of it. When we’ve received all prototypes, we start to adjust and rethink everything that has to be adjusted. In the end we have three phases before our final products can be made and sold to our customers. It is important to us that we’ve looked at every little detail so that everything will be perfect in the end.’
So, you’ve already explained that it can be a challenge to come up with new creations every collection. But what is it about your job that keeps you motivated to keep going instead of giving up? ‘What I like the most about my job is brainstorming and creating new collections together with Eva. It gives you such a great feeling, a satisfaction, when you’ve been working on a collection for weeks and then seeing it come to life. All the colors and fabrics turn into a story, a story that represents Milla. At the end you do it for your customers and to hear their enthusiasm about our collections is just everything.’ I think it’s safe to say that you are a team worker, reaching a goal together.
‘Definitely, that’s what I love about working at Milla. We have a relatively small team that makes it possible to work closely with your coworkers. Especially during these difficult times, it is so important that you have each other. It motivates us to keep going so that it will only make us stronger, not weaker.’
It is wonderful to hear you speak with such enthusiasm about your job, the brand and your coworkers. I think these things are very important to have because it gives you joy and motivation. Of course, it hasn’t always been like this. What is something you’d say to people who are struggling finding out what they want in life? ‘The most important lesson I’ve learned is that you can get anywhere with perseverance. I’m convinced that if you work hard enough for your goals in life you will reach them. Don’t give up when it gets hard, instead look at the possibilities and find a solution, there always is one. It is okay to have some bumps on the road, but these will make you who you are in the end. Just know that it is okay to be insecure, and to make mistakes, that’s how you learn in life.’