LEMON Magazine had a relaxed conversation with the founder and creative director of Bobo Choses, Adriana Esperalba. We spoke about inspiration, fashion, creative processes and the beautiful brand she has created!
Photography courtesy of Bobo Choses
LEMON Magazine [LEMON]: Hello Adriana, so nice to be here talking to you in person! How are you doing?
Adriana Esperalba [A.E.]: I must be one of the few who haven’t yet had covid and there are times when things aren’t great, but we’ve been adapting to this whole situation. The most important things is that we’re all healthy and my family is fine.
[LEMON]: Did the pandemic affect the brand?
[A.E.]: Yes, but in some ways for the better, and sales actually increased. We adapted super-fast to remote working. It was all very automatic. It wasn’t that easy for those with children at home, but we managed. We went to the office once or twice a week. Mainly the creative team, because they need to be in close contact a bit more. Brainstorming is crucial for creativity and the screens limited that a bit.
[LEMON]: How did the brand come to life?
[A.E.]: In a graphic design studio, with my business partner! We are both graphic designers and do advertising, branding identity and so on. We were both pregnant at the time and almost as a joke we would talk about how we really didn’t like what we found in the shops for babies and children. But we both really liked Nordic brands, and so we had the idea of creating a brand ourselves. We had a friend with a clothing factory who was willing to produce small quantities. We made the first showcase and then started thinking about how to sell. At first we sold to friends and so on, but after that we had no idea what to do. So we did some research and invested in the smallest possible stand at the Playtime trade show in Paris. We thought that if it went well, we would continue and if it didn’t… well, we could just stop.
My sister lived in Paris at the time and we stayed in her mini-apartment. We contacted some stores who we thought our pieces might interest and everyone really liked them. We were also lucky enough to meet a Japanese distributor who loved our pieces. And so what had started out as something just for fun became something serious. As everything went so well, we repeated the process and each time things grew a little bit more. The stand was getting bigger and bigger at the trade show, we had more customers, and sales doubled. We surrounded ourselves with people who know the market and little by little the project grew, from 2008 until now.
[LEMON]: Where does the name Bobo Choses come from?
[A.E.]: Here in France, bobo is a class of bohemian, while in Spain bobo means something silly and innocent. And choses means “things” in French. We liked these connotations and thought the sound of those words was easy to say and so we went with it.
[LEMON]: Tell us a little about your creative process.
[A.E.]: We always start with a concept, an idea, and then there are always stories in my head. I’m a very introverted person and always have a lot of ideas in my head. We think about things that interest kids. For example, the summer collection, “I’m a Poet”, came about because I thought we had never talked about poetry and for me it is something that is very beautiful and an art that people no longer appreciate so much. In my opinion, a poet’s way of feeling is very similar to that of a child: sensitive. Children are surprised by things as if they are always feeling them for the first time. You blow soap bubbles and the kids go crazy and that feeling is inspiring. And so from that initial idea comes many others which we work and develop. Then come the colours and the shapes. The foundation is a very general idea, but always linked to children’s moods. The adult collection is a bit simpler, but we always say that we are children trapped in adults’ bodies. It’s kind of nostalgic to get back in touch with that kid you used to be.
[LEMON]: So, your daily life can have a real effect on a collection?
[A.E.]: Yes, of course! It could be a song, it could be a movie. Someone I saw on the street that caught my attention, an older person, things that surprise me and which are a little out of the norm. I really admire bold, different people who make me think about things. Anything that makes me think and ask myself questions.
[LEMON]: Do you consider yourself a fashionable person?
[A.E.]: Well, I don’t follow fashion that much. I don’t consider myself a person who is always up to date with fashion. I like it, but I’m more interested in other things like the world of art, photography, theatre… fashion changes so fast. To tell the truth I find it a bit strange, pieces that have an absurd value and which are just to make a statement, especially for teenagers. Fashion for me is travelling and being on a subway in any country and seeing how people dress.
[LEMON]: How many are you behind the brand?
[A.E.]: We started with 3 people. Me, my business partner and another person, Carla, who helped a lot in all aspects of managing the business. Later we needed to add another expert in the production area and, with a new collection every six months and the crazy growth at Bobo Choses, we suddenly became 50. That’s how many of us there are right now! The first stores we joined are almost family and part of the team too. They are small stores that were doing very well a few years ago but which started to struggle when companies like Inditex began to appear.
[LEMON]: How would you describe Bobo Choses in three words?
[A.E.]: Can it be four? Fun, creative, unpretentious and sustainable. We are not as fully sustainable as we want to be, but it is in the brand’s DNA.
[LEMON]: You’re always trying to replace conventional materials with more sustainable ones. Do you feel that your costumers value that? Do you feel people are really buying less, but better?
[A.E.]: I like to think that they do. The customers who have followed us for many years see our effort to increasingly incorporate more sustainable materials. We are always trying to be careful, not only in production, but also in our daily lives and in the office. And I believe that the customer who is loyal to the brand also buys us for that reason. Quality over quantity.
[LEMON]: Are there any special plans you can share with us?
[A.E.]: We are introducing new items to our iconic collection which is the most sustainable yet. New colours. We work with our recycled fabrics to make new fabric. Dyeing is also a more natural process, the colours come from nature, from sand (not all unfortunately, because not all colours are possible with this process, but as much as possible). We have a collaboration with Anthropologie, an American brand, for an adult capsule. As the American market is very large, it’s good to hold hands with a brand that is already well known. In April/May it will go out to the public. Our main market is Asia, and we are also thinking about projects for that market.
[LEMON]: Do you listen to music while working? What kind of music inspires you to create?
[A.E.]: Yes, sometimes while creating a collection I listen to an album by a certain band. My music is always more oriented towards the 80s. Bobo Choses always has a Spotify list for each collection, and this is usually inspired by the songs that inspired the creative team.
Sometimes Spotify recommends songs and suddenly I find a new band and throughout the whole collection I listen to that band.
[LEMON]: A quote that you love and live by?
[A.E.]: Lead life with a good sense of humour.