When Academy of Art University Fashion Design Student, Jenny Johansson, moved from Sweden to America just three years ago, little did she know she would be returning to her country with a brand all her own. The passionate 23 year old decided to challenge herself to design outside the boundaries of a classroom and sourced fabric, created pattern pieces, and worked with a local SF cut & sew company to create her own line of individualized jackets. Johansson’s brand, entitled RAGNHILD, is not her only fashion venture at the moment. This summer, she landed a highly coveted design internship at Ralph Lauren Denim & Supply and is currently living her idea of the American Dream in NYC.
I caught up with the ever-so-busy Johansson between design meetings to hear more about interning at Ralph Lauren, her adventures in NYC, and the future of RAGNHILD.
Where do you call home in NYC?
On the Upper East Side—74th and 1st to be exact.
What’s your favorite part of living in such a big city like New York?
There is always something to do in this city—you never get bored.
How has it been adjusting to city life in both San Francisco and NYC after moving from Sweden?
It has definitely been a change, but one that I am very happy about. I am from a small town and have had to adjust to the city lifestyle. After living in both SF and NYC these past three years I feel I could finally consider myself a “city girl”.
So, the tough question—NYC or SF? Which do you prefer?
I actually prefer NYC. The pace is faster and it’s not as laid back as SF, which I like—I am someone that enjoys the rush.
How has it been working for such a prestigious company like Ralph Lauren?
It has been truly amazing. All my coworkers are very sweet and so helpful. Since being here at Ralph Lauren I have learned so much from sitting in on meetings and collaborating with my team.
You said you learn a lot from meetings, but what does your day-to-day schedule look like at Ralph Lauren Denim and Supply?
I start at 9:00AM every morning and finish at 6:00pm. Everyday is slightly different, which keeps me on my toes. I start my day by checking and responding to emails. Then I am either in meetings or tasked with gathering inspiration images and setting up presentation boards.
What is your daily uniform while in New York City?
I usually throw on denim pants, a graphic tee and converse (a must) and a leather jacket. But, when it is as hot as it is right now in NYC I usually wear denim shorts and pair them with a jacket from my brand, RAGNHILD.
Let’s talk about RAGNHILD’s debut collection–Why did you decide to start your own brand?
It has always been a dream of mine to start my own brand. I started working this past Fall/Winter season and once I started, I couldn’t stop. I was so inspired to create a collection that I loved and something I chose to design, as opposed to the outfits I was assigned to create in class.
What inspires you while you are designing?
Vibrant colors, patterns and prints really inspire me. I find my design inspiration comes from prints and my print inspiration compliments my design—it goes both ways. There are endless possibilities when creating patterns, which is why it’s so fun for me.
Why jackets? What’s next?
I have always liked the bomber jacket style. I decided to make my own pattern and pick my own fabrics. I sewed the first jacket and the response was overwhelming. People on the street stopped me to ask where I had gotten my jacket—I knew then that I was on to something. I decided to start with jackets and individualize each one. Right now I am working on a t-shirt collection that will be available late September. All the t-shirts will be made of organic cotton and feature digital prints that I have made myself.
That seems like a lot to take care of—how do you find time to balance both interning and your brand?
It is definitely very difficult to balance. When working a 9-6 job Monday through Friday, there isn’t much time for working on my own brand. I try to work on it after work but everything just takes a little more time than expected. From designing, to sourcing fabrics, to shipping—it is a long process, but it moves forward so that’s what matters the most.
I know it must be impossible to choose, but what is your favorite jacket from your collection?
My favorite jacket…that’s such a tough one. It really is impossible to pick because I love each one in a different way.
What would your one piece of advice be for designers wanting to start their own company?
Just do it. You have nothing to loose.If you never try you’ll never know.
Below is RAGNHILD‘s Lookbook
Click here to shop