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Trendsetters at Work: Vans

Vans Trendsetters Christina Mack

You don't need to know how to ride a skateboard or even own one to wear cool Vans tees and separates.

The brand widely known for their famous skateboard shoes also creates apparel including hoodies, socks, hats and backpacks. And we were able to meet the mastermind behind Vans' womens collection. 

We joined Vans Women's Apparel head designer Nadia Barienbrock at her Southern California office to see what a day in the life of a creative fashion insider is like. 

What was your very first job?
When I was in high school I worked as a receptionist after school.

How did you get started in your career?
When I was a receptionist, I used to sketch in-between answering phone calls. A friend took the sketches to some local action sports brands and they turned my sketches into T-shirt graphics. At the time, drawing was just a hobby and I never thought I would have a career in graphics, let alone fashion. I did not attend design school, and after I graduated college I realized all I wanted to do was pursue design as a career. I met a designer while networking at a party and told her I would work for free and after a few months she gave me a referral and I landed my first job as an assistant designer.

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Vans Trendsetters Christina Mack

Who are some of your career heroes?
My dad. He is a brilliant, hard-worker but definitely knows how to have a good time. He always gives the best career advice and has taught me to work hard and play hard. As for career heroes among designers, I love Isabel Marant. Her collections have a great bohemian spirit and are always the perfect mix of effortlessly feminine and tomboy. She seems to have a great bohemian spirit.

What's a typical workday like for you?
It's different everyday depending on where we are in the design cycle, but every morning starts with emails and looking at blogs and websites for inspiration.  I am always reviewing products, art and print strikes that come in that day, fitting protos on a fit model and can have anywhere from three to 10 meetings to discuss new designs. I always make it a point to take lunch outside of the office to get out and recharge for the afternoon.

Describe your office décor. What was your inspiration? Did you decorate it yourself?
I only have a few inspiration tears hanging on a wall. My desk is always cluttered with various projects and a couple pieces of Jasper. The Jasper is really beautiful and I like to look at it and hold it if I'm stressed or thinking. I want to make it more like my home office, which is a minimal midcentury vibe with vintage African rugs, plants, geodes, crystals and lamps. 

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Vans Trendsetters Christina Mack

List five things that are on your desk right now: 
Coffee from five hours ago, calendar, phone, Vans Spring 2014 Magazine, stack of inspiration photos from blogs and magazines.

What are your favorite stores to shop for work clothes?
I pretty much wear the same "uniform" every day. Ironically, I don't shop for myself as much as most designers. I can wear the same jeans every day and love old slouchy T-shirts. I'm so excited to be designing some of my favorite new T-shirts for the Vans women's collection to wear throughout the week. I like to shop vintage or go to small boutiques when I travel to find unique pieces.

What's the best piece of career advice you've ever received?
Never think you are above any job and never think there is a job you can't do.

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Vans Trendsetters Christina Mack

Finish the sentence…

Today for lunch I had…Thai food

The first website I log onto every day is… Whatever shop or blog newsletter I have in my inbox that morning. Style.com, Gilt Groups, Nasty Gal and a couple of trend forecasting sites. 

The beauty product you can always find in my purse is…Burt's Bees Chapstick

My must-have work gadget is…iPhone

My usual Starbucks order is…Non-fat latte

If I need a quick break during work, I usually…Visit one of my coworkers for a good story and laugh.

If I wasn't doing this job, I would be…Traveling with no itinerary. I love the idea of staying in one place as long as I like and moving on when I'm ready but if I needed another day job I'd work as an interior designer.

The best part of my job is…Being inspired by the overly creative design team I work with.

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