Have you ever wondered how your favourite JoJo designs are brought to life? Our foxes, puppies, dinosaurs and now, llamas are all the result of our talented in-house designers' imaginations. Today, the spotlight is on our llamazing new llama collection - we'll be chatting to Sherry, Acting Lead Childrenswear Designer here at JoJo House, to learn about where her inspiration comes from.
Welcome to the blog, Sherry! First of all, JoJo has so many gorgeous animal designs, which makes me think you've been doing this job forever! Have you always been great at illustrating animals, or is it something you've learnt at JoJo?
Thank you! I've always enjoyed drawing and creating, and loved getting the paints out from a very young age, but I'd say working at JoJo has helped me to create more characters - we really bring each animal to life here! The one you see on our JoJo styles have such cheeky and fun personalities which I love capturing in our illustrations.
I really get that impression with the llamas in particular! With their bright tassels, woolly hats and little grins on their faces. Can you tell me how you choose which animals to focus on each season? You always seem to get it right in line with what's on trend.
We tend to look at the characters we've loved before and work out who their friends will be for the season - maybe it's a dinosaur teaming up with a mammoth, or a llama having a chat with a bird... We always like our characters to have a friendly air to them. Along with this, we look at trends coming through home ware, stationary and general social movements, as these sometimes influence the characters we fall in love with. Not to mention we have Battersea Park right on our door step, so lunch times are often spent wandering through the park or around the pond checking out the animal life around us!
We are so lucky to be so close to Battersea Park! I never thought of it as influencing your work which is pretty amazing... What were the first steps you took as a team once you decided to create a llama collection?
We started by finding inspiring images to help tell the story of the llama collection - these included adorable real llama's faces, inspiration from Mexican artist Frida Kahlo - particularly her head pieces, and then we focused on textures of fabrics and different graphics.
Our next stop was colour. Colour is always a big deal for us - we love putting new palettes together and getting excited about how this will all make the collection look and team up with our core JoJo basics.
After that, we started working on initial sketches to get the characters just right, then we added colours and styles them across our prints and graphics, and the range started to take shape!
What was your biggest inspiration behind the new llama collection?
The adorable faces llamas pull were just too cute to ignore - that, coupled with the huge Frida Kahlo trend and a new colour palette brought the girls' collection to life. Whilst the boys' collection was inspired by the trend for bold graphic textures; putting a new spin on an adorable character.
When you're designing each llama, do you ever imagine them to have their own personalities?
Yes, we love giving our llamas individual personalities and will often be heard discussing what they are up to, or creating stories around them. In the design pod, it really helps us capture their character and build on the range. You'll see lots of different expressions across this season's llama range - some have a cheeky grin, some have a serene look and some are wide-eyed and looking for adventures!
I have definitely noticed the different expressions between prints and on appliqués! There are also lots of earthy mustard and blue tones in this season, how did you choose these colours and why?
Mustard is a key colour trend right now and we love it! It works across all areas and brings a real warmth to the palettes, whilst the blue tones help the range to sit back with our core classic pieces and bring balance. China blue and cobalt are always core colours for us; this season we have used them in a new way by mixing up the palettes to give us a completely new look.
A very difficult question as the whole collection is gorgeous - what is your favourite piece from the llama collection, and why?
It is a tough choice! But, I think the yellow spot print dress with the llama parade around the hem and the bold llama print dungaree set with its fun cobalt stripe top are both my favourites. I couldn't choose just one!
How long does it take you to design a pair of llama print leggings from first sketches to final product?
I’d say around 1-2 days depending on how indecisive I am about the character’s personality… Some days are more inspired than others!
What is the most difficult piece of clothing to work on as a designer and why?
I’d say basics are the toughest to design on paper as they don’t quite jump off the page – we all know and love them and need them to balance our wardrobes but sometimes they can be tricky to get excited about when you have fun prints to be working on! It is lovely to see a new basic sample once all the fabrication and fits have come together.
How do you hope JoJo customers will feel when they see the new llama collection?
Hopefully excited by all the new colours and textures – I really hope they get as excited about it as we do – we loved putting everything together and making it fun and playful, so we really hope the customers feel the same.
Finally, if you could describe the new llama collection in one word, what would it be?
One word is tricky! I can narrow it down to three; colourful, quirky and playful.