ginny branch stellinginterviewswhat's in your toolbox

what’s in your toolbox: jamie freed

by Ginny

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program to inject a little dose of fashion into the mix! Jamie Freed is the director of Topshop’s Personal Shopping Department and a dazzling gem of a gal. Whether juggling high-profile clients, building the ultimate dress-up day, or finessing her dream team’s strategies, Jamie always delivers grace under pressure, along with a healthy dose of style! She’s in the business of making pretty, and she does it oh so well. She is a delight of a person to be around, and definitely a rising star to keep your eye on!

*All photos by Brad DeCecco.

1. Design*Sponge: What is in your toolbox? What are the tools you can’t live without?

Jamie Freed: A large part of what my team and I do involves creating an unforgettable experience for our clients. From the moment you walk in, you feel like you’ve walked into this cozy, girly sanctuary with everything you could possibly want at your fingertips. I have a major sweet tooth, so we always have English biscuits, jellybeans and the most delicious hard candies to satisfy our client’s cravings. I worked with Papabubble to create a custom passionfruit flavored candy for Topshop. Everything they do is beautifully made by hand. We also have the yummiest mini-cupcakes from Ladybird Bakery in Brooklyn. I love using flowers to pretty-up our space, so I live for my weekly floral arrangements from H.Bloom. When they’re styling their clients, I know my personal shoppers can’t live without our built-in wall grids. It allows them to expertly lay out looks and teach clients how to mix and match pieces, play with shoes and accessories and view their entire wardrobe at a glance. I also can’t live without our jewelry and accessories. I am an enthusiastic advocate of more is more when it comes to accessorizing. Piling on bracelets, layering multiple necklaces or even adding a sequined or feathered hair piece is what will pull together a look and help convey your image to the world.

2. Design*Sponge: Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel ____.”

CLICK HERE for the rest of Jamie’s interview after the jump!

3. Design*Sponge: What are on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?

Jamie Freed: I have to keep up with what’s current and what will be happening next season. All of the spring/summer 2011 runway collections were just shown, so I’ve been glued to Style.com daily to see what went down the catwalks. I look at The Sartorialist and Jak & Jil as often as possible for street-inspired fashion. I’m also a huge fan of What I Saw Today by Richard Haines. His subjects are mostly men, but his sketches always give me new quirky twists for menswear-inspired styling. My favorite fashion book is The Little Dictionary of Fashion by Christian Dior. It’s literally his A-to-Z fashion guide. Even though he wrote it in 1954, his timeless advice is still relevant today. My favorite entry is his last: “Zest. There is no beauty that is attractive without zest. There is no fashion which is good without care, enthusiasm and zest behind it. Zest in designing . . . zest in making . . . and zest in wearing your clothes.”

4. Design*Sponge: How do you keep yourself organized? Do you have an agenda book and do you make “to-do” lists?

Jamie Freed: Not only do I have to keep myself organized, I have to keep my entire team organized! They all keep meticulous diaries of their upcoming appointments and special client requests so they don’t miss anything. I’m fortunate enough to have a one-woman master organizer on my team who manages everyone’s schedule. I’d be lost without her! As far as to-do lists, I use a very basic ruled notepad and cross things off as I complete them. Seeing the lines through my completed tasks gives me a sense of accomplishment. I usually have five going at the same time.

5. Design*Sponge: What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young creative?

Jamie Freed: Follow your heart to find your happiness. I remember having breakfast one morning, years ago, with Kazuko, beloved New York eccentric and talented jewelry designer. This was her motivation for everything she ever did, and I think it’s relevant to everything that I do.

The one piece of advice I have to offer? Embrace every relationship and continually build your professional network.

6. Design*Sponge: If you could look in the studio of any artist, dead or alive, who’s would it be?

Jamie Freed: Man Ray. I love his use of irony and humor, especially in his sculptural work. I’m fascinated by his photography, and admire his ability to capture his subject’s personality with such grace. His portraits are serenely intimate and accurate. I love his photos from the 1930s featuring Vionnet dresses and his 1935 portrait of Coco Chanel. My all-time favorite piece of his is The Kiss, a photogram of Man Ray and Kiki de Montparnasse engaged in a kiss. It’s bizarrely romantic.

7. Design*Sponge: How do you combat creative blocks?

Jamie Freed: I usually turn to the street when I need to clear my head and change my perspective. I live in Williamsburg and work in Soho, and both neighborhoods are teeming with inspiring people and places. In Soho, I love to stroll down Crosby Street and stop in Saturdays surf shop and espresso bar. They have a cool garden deck in the back where I like to relax and read. In Williamsburg, I like to go to Blackbird Parlour, order a pot of black currant tea and sit in the window and watch the passersby. Bedford Avenue is my favorite people-watching spot in the city.

8. Design*Sponge: What is the best part of what you do, and what is the hardest part?

Jamie Freed: I love helping my personal shoppers tailor every appointment to their client’s specific needs. We get to be very creative with each person, and no two styling sessions are ever the same. The best reward is knowing that our clients come to us for a super fun, super easy shopping experience and that they look absolutely amazing after working with us. The hardest part is having to anticipate someone’s needs, sometimes without ever meeting them before an appointment. My shoppers are very keen and detail oriented though, and can nail down someone’s style within a minute of meeting them.

9. Design*Sponge: If you could have any superhero power, what would it be?

Jamie Freed: I’d want the power to be in two places at once! Time is a luxury, especially in New York. I could have my hair cut while getting a mani/pedi while going to yoga while dining with friends while working with a client. Actually, make that five places at once.

10. Design*Sponge: If you could make a master mix-tape of music that is inspiring you at the moment, what would it include?

Jamie Freed: I’ve been listening to a lot of girl-fronted groups lately. I guess I’m currently channeling my inner indie-rock songstress:

“Fuzz Love” — Dum Dum Girls
“Tropics” — Apache Beat
“Black Tongue” — Yeah Yeah Yeahs
“This Is Love” — PJ Harvey
“Come Saturday” — The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
“Hook and Line” — The Kills
“Deceptacon” — Le Tigre
“I’m a Lady” — Santogold
“Kiss Them for Me” — Siouxie & The Banshees
“Silver Soul” — Beach House
“Give You My Lovin” — Mazzy Star
“Rill Rill” — Sleigh Bells

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