We love everything about ban.do – from the collections (that are always both clever and colorful) to the actual girls behind the brand – the ban.do #girlgang. We have such a girl crush on this vibrant group of super talented, super fun, super creative women so when we got a chance to ask Jen Gotch, the co-founder and creative director, about her style of business, inspiration and more… we were excited!
FIRST THINGS FIRST: Is there “one” particular moment, looking back, that really made you think, I want to build a brand? Did you always want to be an entrepreneur? We really just want to know what inspired you to take this career path?
JG: I’ve definitely always loved the idea of having an audience, whether it be dancing for my parents’ friends at dinner parties, or selling things at a local flea market. Connecting with people is a passion of mine and connecting to customers through a brand is really fulfilling. I wouldn’t say there was a particular moment where I thought, “Yeah, I’m gonna build a brand!” But there are enough experiences peppered through my life that make what I am doing now seem very sensible. Leading up to the time we started ban.do, I had been working as a food and prop stylist for over 10 years and had just started getting into photography. Oh, and I was writing two different blogs, too. (What is wrong with me?) I actually started ban.do on a whim with a friend, never expecting it would become more than just a little creative outlet on the side (like I needed another one, sheesh!). Things took off just as my photography career got going. I had my first big shoot in New York for the cover of Real Simple magazine and spent a couple extra days there meeting with people about ban.do. I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to manage all 17,000 careers I had started so I chose ban.do. And here we are.
Just as important as the first… is there a story behind “ban.do” (the name) you can share?
JG: I can tell you one thing for sure, we definitely did not come up with the name using any of the business naming strategies that I now know to be so helpful. Oh no, that would have just made things too easy! So “bandeaux” is the French word for headband (which was primarily what we were making/selling when we started the company in 2008), and although we loved the way it sounded, I thought French words were passé (to use another French word), so I changed the spelling, because I thought I could make a word that had been around forever look cooler (which is a very Jen Gotch thing to do. I’m always convinced I can improve things… sometimes it works and sometimes IT DOES NOT WORK.) Over time there have been challenges with the punctuation and the pronunciation, but now I really like it. It’s so much more than a name now. It represents a big happy FUN team and that’s worth smiling about.
What and where do you find the most creative inspiration? Do you have a favorite Instagram account for inspiration? Or someone/a brand you follow on Pinterest?
JG: I’m really fond of the usual suspects when it comes to finding inspiration… travel, old movies (and when I say old, I don’t mean the classics – I'm talking mostly about 80’s rom coms), swap meets, walking not driving, and of course Pinterest for the days I want to be inspired, but I don’t want to get out of bed.
Great visual inspiration on Instagram: first of all @shopbando because it is looking sooooo good right now. I’m just really proud of everyone, so I think that should get top mention. @C_L_O is great for fashion and photography, and @jimmymarble for mood and color.
And on Pinterest: I’ve been really into Bing Bang NYC’s Pinterest as of late. They’re great!!!
What inspired this year’s collection?
JG: ban.do Spring/Summer 2016 is all about celebrating self-expression, highlighting our strengths, and identifying with our customers. The line is a mix of cute, youthful, sophisticated, and quirky, and it’s a calculated response to looking at what’s around us. We’ve played up fun, irreverence, bright colors, and trends. And it’s all wrapped up in getting the best photos, because that’s how our customer communicates.
Do you have an all-time favorite item or design from the collection this year or in previous collections?
JG: Everything! In this collection, the compliment postcard book is full of things girls could totally hear themselves saying to a friend, and the love potion sip sip is like having a sip of love potion every day (really effective for crushes). And we're really excited about our inflatables – you can take herbie our happy heart with you to the pool or float on a giant heart-shaped inner tube!
We may be biased, but we love working in a company full of women and all about women. A total synergy, we think, with ban.do. What is the best part about working with all girls (all the time)?
JG: I think the best part is that women tend to be more communicative about their emotions than men, so we are able to connect on a really personal level and also address any issues that come up in a really honest way.
Any new ideas we can sneak peek and know about for fall? Next year?
JG: Oh man, we have a ton of fun stuff coming up that makes me want to have a dance party right here right now! Our new agendas are coming out really soon and believe me when I tell you they are insanely good. Basically, we're headed for a ban.do world takeover. And you’re totally invited!