Featured Designer Interview
“Chanel’s little black dress is the single most important inspiration for our GoGo gear.”, Arlene Battishill
Noblivity Catches up with Arlene Battishill for GoGo Gear…
Company/Designer Name: SCOOTERGIRLS, INC., ARLENE BATTISHILL
- Designer Background Summary: I’m not a designer. I have no design training. I work with Desiree Estrada who co-owns the company with me and my niece Renee Waniolek. None of us has any formal design training, although Renee studied visual communications at FIDM Los Angeles and is an excellent freestyle sketch artist. You could say that we have a democratic design approach. All three of us have to agree on a design before we’ll go forward with it. By having three very diverse design aesthetics, we end up with designs that are likely to find a wider audience than if there was only one of us in the designer role.
Noblivity: How did you get started?
Arlene: I started a mobile advertising company in 2008 using models and actresses riding scooters for advertising purposes. We couldn’t find any cute protective clothing for the women who were riding the scooters so i decided that we would do the design and manufacturing. I had already imported a container of scooters for our advertising company so it wasn’t a stretch for me to consider doing our production overseas.
Noblivity: What inspires your designs?
Arlene: Design first for the look and then engineer the safety and other technical features into the clothing. Given that we’re designing protective clothing for two wheel riders, we don’t have to go very far with the designs since the majority of what is in our market are men’s jackets made smaller and pulled in at the waist to fit women. They are all athletic looking and not very flattering to women or their bodies. As a result, almost anything would be better than what we’ve had available to wear. Many women won’t wear any protective clothing because they don’t like the way it looks or fits so we are meeting that need by making the clothing look and fit better.
Noblivity: How would you describe your design style?
Arlene: It has to look great, be practical and functional for a rider. Being understated in design yet cutting edge in fabric is the hallmark of the designs.
Noblivity: What designers inspire you?
Arlene: Chanel’s little black dress is the single most important inspiration for our GoGo gear. Our hang tags say: “designed by and for women who understand the power of the little black dress”. As I am not a designer by training or education, I don’t know who all the important designers are, I just know what I like when I see it and I know how something will or won’t work for the people who ride on two wheels.
Noblivity: What obstacles did you have to overcome?
Arlene: Sizing has been a huge challenge. Because we are designing outerwear for riding, most clothing is the typical s-m-l-xl sizing. We chose to size based on regular women’s clothing 2-4-6-8-10, etc., including very large sizes. Because our clothing has multiple layers in it and incorporates the use of technical protective armor inside the sleeves, it is extremely challenging to make the armor “disappear”.
Noblivity: How did you overcome them?
Arlene: We have had to sample over and over again to get the fit right. Because women come in so many shapes and sizes, it is extremely difficult to get a fit that works for most women. Trial and error is the only way!
Noblivity: What has been your greatest moment on your journey so far?
Arlene: Exhibiting in Milan at the Eicma 2009 (Milan motorcycle show) this November and having the Italians ask if we were Italian designers! The greatest compliment to a designer is having an Italian say “bella!” or “bellisimo!” or “compliments!” Which we heard a lot from the industry and the public.
Noblivity: Where are you headed personally and professionally?
Arlene: Given that I’m probably older than most people you’re interviewing, I’ve already had a lot of personal and professional success so I’m not particularly driven by any one defining aspiration. I paid a lot of dues along the way in life and managed to find financial security as a result of working for a paycheck most of my life and i am now at a point where I don’t have to do it anymore, not because I don’t need the money but more because i have made the choice that i will no longer surrender my life to the goals and objectives of people who run the companies i might work for. I will not spend another second of my life working to financially enrich other people. I want to enrich the people who like our clothing by giving them something they’ve been waiting a long time for.
Noblivity: If money were no object what would you do right now?
Arlene: With respect to our clothing line, I would be producing everything in the USA. On a personal level, if money were no object, I would be spending all my time taking care of orphaned baby elephants in Africa and Asia.
Noblivity: What are the best and worst things about being a designer?
Arlene: Taking something out of a normal use and putting it into a use that is completely unexpected, hence GoGo gear. The worst thing is how long it takes to bring a line through the development process and out to market. It’s very costly and time consuming but once you’ve been through it a lot of that is reduced with experience.
Noblivity: Describe your typical day?
Arlene: Emails back and forth with factories, fabric suppliers, freight forwarders, consultants, meetings about next season line development, phone calls to sales agents, meetings with graphics people for new marketing materials, sending press releases, reviewing upcoming events that we’ll be participating in and discussions about our European markets.
Noblivity: What’s your philosophy of life?
Arlene: You have to live and breathe the idea that anything is possible. Life is a series of choices and when you recognize and take responsibility for the fact that you ultimately control your destiny with the choices you make, incredible things can happen. I also believe that there is always a way to do something, you just have to look at things in a different way.
Noblivity: What’s your favorite meal time setting? Being at a terrific restaurant with great wine and great friends.
Arlene: If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently? What I am doing right now is the “if I could do it all over again”! I’m almost 50 and I have spent a lifetime working for other people so now I’m working for myself. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Noblivity: When will you know you have made it?
Arlene: Given my age, I don’t think I have any illusions about “making it”. I’m much too practical about such things. I’ve already made it in life in the sense that I have a wonderful life, a great relationship, great friends and I love what I do so what more could I ask for. I’m not seeking fame or fortune, I just want to make great looking coats for people who ride on two wheels and hopefully recoup the money I’ve invested in this venture. The fun that I’m having doing what I’m doing is the best indication that I’ve already made it.