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Jackie Brander Interview

Life, TravelRebecca O'ByrneComment

Fewer people could be more in the know and as L.A's most fabulously knowledgable "go to person", Jackie Brander is your girl. Beginning her career under the wing of Fred Segal she quickly moved up the ranks and at just 19 became her own boss at the helm of the infamous L.A boutique her mentor had founded and synonymously named, Fred Segal. As owner and buyer, she met with and invested in all the young, unknown but up and coming, off the beaten tracks designers around the world; most of whom have since become names we wouldn't have our wardrobes without today! After her 26 years experience of knowing what's hot she's exactly the reason we wear what we wear, do what we do and know what we know in matters of style.

Now, as Senior Vice President of Member Experiences at Quintessentially, Brander is continuing her mission to elevate people's lives to the next level at the world's premier concierge company. At Quintessentially, she brings lifestyle management to a whole new echelon and helps members create the life of their dreams with an effortless professionalism only her expertise could do. If only we could all have a Jackie in our lives, the world would satisfactorily run without fault. 

Jackie, you’ve had quite the extensive career to date, can you tell us a little about how it all started?

When I was 18 years old I was a co-designer for ABS. I came home from a trip to India for work and there was a message from Fred. I was 19 years old when Fred Segal first trained me. By 20 he had “put me into business” by financing my store for me. I had 5 years to pay him off and did it under a year. The rest is history! 

You set up Fred Segal FUN having worked alongside Mr. Segal himself for many years, what was it like to work with him and what was the greatest lesson he taught you?

He taught me to notice the small details in business and to pay close attention to them. He trained me to know and understand every single aspect of my business, from the inside out. By the time he sold me the store, there was nothing about my business that I wasn't great at. I understood and did it all. That put me in the right position to hire people that would be great at specific jobs. Those lessons, to this day have remained with me. When I do anything I try to understand it fully from all the aspects, even if I don’t need to. It helps to understand how things get done in whole. Then it helps me to execute what needs to be done. It was the best lesson ever. 

You have a real eye for spotting the next big thing and it’s undoubtedly your finely tuned attention to who and what stands out from the masses that allows you stand tall as a true curator over the years of what we buy as consumers, what is it that you look for in someone that you believe has the much needed wow factor to becoming the next ‘must-have’ label?

Unique style is harder to come up with then people know. You must have high quality fabrications and specialised construction. Mostly there are two types of things people need in their wardrobe though. It's simple, you need the unique “my style” items, and the pieces that support those. To be stylish is to be able to put the two together. When a designer has all of this going together its usually a winner. That was always what I wanted.. unique items with pieces that work together to highlight them.

Fashion has changed dramatically and has become so accessible to everyone now with fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M, Forever 21 and many others turning over collection after collection at the speed of light. Where do you see the luxury market going and what are your thoughts on our habits as consumers today?

We are being “trained” to buy new things all the time now. There used to be four seasons a year. Now its more like 52! New things come out weekly. The key to my success at Fred Segal is that this was my philosophy then. I had new merchandise delivered daily. Every day. You could come into my shop one day and see new things, the following day, that was gone and new ones were in their place.  Fashion is changing at the fastest pace it ever has. We don’t have seasons like we used to. I think the key is investing in the longevity of those “items” and choosing them wisely. People should dress in what not only looks good on them but more importantly what makes them feel the way they want to. Pick designers that flatter your body and make you feel hot!

..and on that note, what wardrobe pieces do you believe we should always invest in?

Always buy the very best black items. A jacket, jeans, tee, shirt, shoes. Black items last the longest, make you feel more dressed and are the easiest to work with. When I travel I pack mostly black with colour accessories. 

As a buyer for the store, where did you find the most interesting new designers that eventually sold at Fred Segal?

 I shopped the world. I was flown out to Sydney yearly to judge the Mercedes Fashion Weeks. I would pick the next up and coming designer on every trip. Hands down, this was one of my stand apart places to shop for my stores.

What Los Angeles based designers that are up-and-coming are catching your attention right now?

I have to be honest here. I have new favorites all the time. I am not a one designer kind of person because I shop for items, not collections. 

And on a global basis?

Well it's the same as above. It's different every time I hit the stores!

You now work as Senior Vice President of Member Experiences at Quintessentially, tell us about your role at the company and what new challenges you have encountered there..

Because of my past career in the USA, I am also the personal shopper and sourcing expert for Quintessentially.  I do anything and everything to supply our members with whatever is important to them. I have delivered everything from a vintage Corvette to Mexico, to impossible to get Hermes Birkin bags. I create experiences for our members and always aim for the wow factor. It changes day to day and when I wake up I never know what is in store for me. Two days ago I ended up filming on a reality show out of the blue! You never know what is going to happen at Quintessentially, but that is what I love most about it. 

How did you make the decision to transition from fashion to lifestyle management?

It was a funny thing. I got out of Fred Segal and didn't know what was next but I was ready for something new. I am the “go to person” for so many people. My parents said you should be in concierge, you do it anyway. I said I didn't see myself standing in nylons at a desk in a hotel! No no, NOT ME! They said, no, check out all the cool private concierge companies. I googled “best concierge company” and Quintessentially was the number one, I sent them an email and said I don’t have a resume, Google me. They did and here I am!

And lastly Jackie, if you weren’t doing what you’re doing, where might we find you?

At the Four Seasons Hualalai! As much as possible!!! 

Follow Jackie on Instagram @AskJackieB