What were some of your early influences?
It was weird, [but] one of the first things to influence me when I was in high school was the old Banana Republic store, when they were safari-themed stores in the [early] '80s. You’d walk in and they would have this huge elephant there and crates full of clothes or a Jeep. ... When you walked in, it was an environment.
This was before it was bought out by the Gap, … when this husband and wife [Mel and Patricia Ziegler] owned it. One was a travel writer and the other an illustrator. They would travel to Zimbabwe, buy all these extra shirts from the Army, take out the tags and put in the Banana Republic thing. It was this "found fashion" thing for travelers and mercenaries. That’s what made it cool.
As the creative director, you’re taking on many different roles. How do you keep it all straight?
It is not really being creative 95 percent of the time; it's 5 percent being creative and 95 percent creatively managing the problems. Something always goes wrong, so it's [figuring out] what do you want to do about this when it does.
It’s a constant state of just doing it. It's controlled chaos. I don’t know how it works, but it's successful. Now it's just about getting people around me to help support and make sure I am not killing myself. We seem much bigger than [Island Company] actually is; it’s really just a lot of people doing 10 different things at once. It works, I don’t know how.
Where the next stop in your travels?
The South Pacific intrigues me, though I have not been there yet. We want to open a store in Australia. Hong Kong blew us away. Bangkok and Thailand are sick. There is so much cool stuff going on over there.
I was never interested in the East at all, but then I went and Hong Kong. … It is so upscale, so clean; it's like New York meets South Beach because it has this warm temperature.
What else is next for Island Company?
We're working on a shoe line and bath and beauty—expanding on the sun-care line. We are expanding the eyewear. ... Everyone wants the Quit Your Job thing, so we are expanding that. We are also doing more content stuff on the website. We’re trying to grow the company one evolution at a time.