For most people working in the fashion industry the career path is never that linear. Working multiple jobs, late nights and a heck of a lot of determination are key to making it - and this month's #Boss Billy Wood, Designer and Creator of Men's label Woody Roo has all that and more.
Plus, his designs are so fun you'll need to send your man the link to his website asap.
Designed and made in Australia the aesthetic behind this brand reminds us of times gone past when a man dressed with class and donning a jacket was a must. It's modern, with a classic twist and we're in love.
It's also why we sat down with Billy this month to find out more about his career, why he started his label and and how he's continuing to make it grow!
Tell us about WoodyRoo what inspired you to start it and why?
My Grandma was a brilliant sewer and I was really close to her. I was in a fabric store with her when I was 21 when I fell in love with a fabric and asked her to make me a t-shirt. We got home and she handed me the scissors and showed me how to strike the patterns, cut it out, and thread the sewing machine. The shirt was rough as buggery although it was the best fitting shirt I had ever worn. From that moment I fell in love with designing and sewing clothes. I was always obsessed with the fit of my clothes and that became the back bone of WoodyRoo. I never planned on starting up my own label it was just through an obsession with making clothes that I wanted to make clothes every day. I thought if I could make clothes every day what a beautiful life that would be.
My dad always brought me up to appreciate our local economy and to support the local butcher and fruit shop too. That’s how I have this great affiliation with WoodyRoo being an Australian made label. I always wanted to do something great with my life. I worked out that I wasn’t going to play cricket for Australia or first grade for the Swans. So when I found this passion for designing I just ran with it and poured every inch of myself into getting WoodyRoo to where it is today. I’m a bit proud to have opened up my own shop at 329 South Dowling Street, Darlinghurst last week!
Was fashion always the career path you wanted to pursue? Tell us about your career break. What were you doing before launching WoodyRoo?
I have a degree in Occupational Therapy although half way through my degree I fell in love with designing. I’d be in lectures and have my head down sketching away what I was going to sew that night. I knew I needed money to get WoodyRoo off the ground. So I graduated and worked as an Occupational Therapist for six years while getting WoodyRoo set up at night.
I would do my day job then come home and work on WoodyRoo until midnight every night. I always had that dream there that I was working towards. I was lucky enough for WoodyRoo to get to a position where I quit my job two years ago. I also studied at Fashion School for a month or two before dropping out. I thought that I didn’t really need anyone to teach me how to design and I wanted to create my own path and do things my way.
What do you find the hardest about creating fashion for men?
I guess the hardest thing that any creative has is the belief you have when you create a new piece or a collection is how that piece is going to be received. The challenge is conveying my excitement for a new piece and then crossing your fingers that people will like it. I have a heap of respect for my customers so it is a bit daunting bringing out new pieces. I always want them to love them as much as I do! Although sometimes the designs that I get most excited about are the biggest flops!
Where do you source your inspiration?
I get my inspiration through thinking about what I want to wear. So at the moment I am thinking about summer and the kind of outfits I want to put together and visualise that.
Can you describe your creative style or angle in your work?
WoodyRoo’s design aesthetic is very much bound by classic nuances and how good a guy can look when his clothes fit great and he has breathed his own character into his outfit. I still rely heavily on the idea that a man’s presence and masculinity can be very much influenced by the manner in which he dresses and carries himself. Masculinity and the male physique underpin my creative style.
From a design perspective, a piece needs to be practical and be able to be worn and translated through various modalities. So a blazer can be dressed right up with a tie and brogues, as well as with jeans and an open neck or even shorts and sandals.
What does your workspace look like?
Minimal. I have my studio above my shop. It consists of dark, raw timbers, industrial metal and brown leathers. I have a workbench made up of a salvaged piece of timber and industrial legs that I pinched from my tailor who was throwing them out. I have a great black and white print of a Highland cow that sits above my desk that oversees things. I also love fig trees. I have a couple in the studio. It gives the space so much life, which helps with my creativity and productivity and makes me feel happy.
What’s on your playlist right now?
Vera Blue “Hold” is my most played song. Rufus’ last album and the new James Blake gear have also been getting a good run! Since opening the shop I have been very nostalgic and reflective of the journey so I play a heap of Kanye West, MGMT, Sigor Ros, Grinspoon, old school Silverchair, and The Shins.
If you could collaborate with anybody who would it be and why?
Kanye West. But maybe 10 years ago. Because he's cool. And I’m not cool at all so I need someone to bring the cool element! Nick Wooster is another legend that I love.
How do you set personal goals and make sure you achieve them?
I am a huge list writer. I need something visual in front of me to keep me accountable. It is so sad though I take huge pleasure in crossing off tasks. I even write down tasks I have already completed so I can tick them off. Very sad.
I’m not really motivated by money or things. I don’t do monthly reports they bore the sh!t out of me to be honest. My goals are more day-to-day goals so I’m always trying to take off for a surf, getting in the ocean, seeing my friends, hanging out with my sister. So I try to be on top of thing so I can do that. My personal goal I had was to make clothes for a living and I have achieved that so I am very fulfilled.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever been given?
“Make every customer feel like they are your only customer.”
I am genuinely interested in people’s stories and I have built some great relationships with some really great people along the way.
For more visit: Woodyroo.com
Images: Woody Roo; Words: Yadira Galarza Cauchi
Tell us, have you heard of this brand? Do you think your man would love?