Creative director at Joules Chloe Ward joined the brand in 2005. She spoke to Drapers about florals, creativity and her rural Norfolk escape.
Chloe Ward joined Joules as creative director in 2005, when the business was made up of just 13 people. The lifestyle brand now has around 100 stores and was crowned Mainstream Brand of the Year at the Drapers Awards 2016. Chloe tells Drapers about Joules’ signature prints, her love of a challenge and her outdoorsy inspirations.
What would you say are the key elements to the ethos of Joules?
We’re a family lifestyle brand. There’s a practical element to what we do and there’s a real substance to what we design. We really think about what people do – whether they’re out dog walking or on country walks, or picking up their children from school. Our customers love classic design, so that’s a starting block for us, but it’s really important that our designs are useful and beautiful.
Where do you find your design inspiration?
I find it anywhere. Colour and print are really important and the inspiration for that will come from, for example, a piece of vintage fabric we find at a fair. We do a lot of original prints as well – the inspiration for that comes from things that our customers are really engaged with. It could be nature, or woodland, flowers or meadows, and all of that is really important to us. We look further than fashion and we always have done.
Where had you worked before you came to Joules? How does that influence how you work now?
The only place I worked before Joules was Jasper Conran, for about three years. I started as a design assitant and left as a senior designer. I joined Joules nearly 14 years ago, when the business was very small. When I joined there was no design team: there was just myself and Tom and in fact there were only 13 people in the entire business.
I built every single creative team from scratch, so I had to do every single job first – whether that was constructing our website or doing clothing and print designs. So it was extremely busy, but the exciting and the best thing was that I learnt everything first-hand. I had the luxury of building a team and the product line.
What designs stand out from your time with the brand?
A real tipping point was when I created our first classic floral. That was a really important piece because it started off our signature handwriting in print design, which we’re well known for now. I remember finding a really old piece of vintage material, from an old book that I had from a vintage fair. I’d altered it, put it into repeat and transformed the colours and that started the brand’s love for and enjoyment of surface prints.
What do you love most about your job?
The best thing is putting together the ranges – the conceptual stage at the beginning is fun. The other thing I love is that there are always problems to solve, challenges to set, and new things to think about and strive for as we go along. I think that’s why I’ve stayed where I am, because the business is fast paced and when we come up with new concepts and ideas we really go for it.
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What would we find you doing at the weekend?
I have three small children and at the moment you’d probably find us in Norfolk, at our house there. There’s the most amazing woodland that surrounds the house that we go marching off into. There’s also a beautiful duck sanctuary down there and we go to Wells beach as well.
Tell us something about you not many people know
When I was 14 I set up a theatre company with my friend Georgie and we toured our show – we went to the Edinburgh festival.
Favourite clothing brand?
Masscob, Forte Forte, Isabel Marant and J Crew
Favourite places to shop?
I like Amié in Notting Hill, I’ve shopped there for many years. I like Merci Merci in Paris and I like the vibe and the lifestyle element of Goodhood in Shoreditch
Last fashion purchase?
A frilled high-neck shirt, from the brand Leon and Harper
We’ve recently bought a holiday house in Norfolk – so, there!
Last book you read?
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Last film you watched?
The BFG, because I have three children so we watched that together the other night
Design assistant at Jasper Conran
I would love to write and illustrate children’s books