Looking for a one-of-a-kind hair accessory? Here’ s a brand you should know! We were able to catch up with designer Rika Gunawan to talk about her brand Republic of Pigtails. ROP is a unique collection of handmade hair accessories for women and girls. We caught up with her right on the heels of the launch of her new fall collection. Read on to find out more about her inspiring story as to how she launched ROP, her influences and her latest project!
FASHIONKRUSH: Every great brand has an equally great story as to how it came to be. What is the story behind ROP?
Rika Gunawan: I lost my corporate design job in 2012 and saw it as a big opportunity to start my own business. It was perfect timing, and I always wanted to be an entrepreneur.
FK: Have you always been in the accessories industry?
FK: How did you get into this business?
RG: It started when my daughter was born. I spent a lot of time looking for cute things during my maternity leave. I love to dress her up and also make her clothes and hair accessories (since she was born with tons of hair). During my “shopping research,” I realized not too many hair accessories companies were out there that offered the design, quality and style that I can envision and produce.
FK: What are your customers coveting right now?
RG: What looks good on them and their uniqueness.
FK: Is there any accessory from the new fall collection that everyone loves?
FK: What are your influences?
RG: Many different things. I am lucky to live in the NYC area, where fashion is everywhere.
FK: How do you stay inspired season after season and consistently put out an amazing collection?
RG: Thank you! I love design, no matter what is being created. It is second nature to me. It is my food, my fuel. Design is not work…it’s play!
FK: Designers always have great personal style! How would you describe your own personal style?
RG: Modern, practical meets street style. I like to be comfortable with a little splash of surprise
FK: Do you have any icons?
RG: My mom. She influenced my style because she’s very stylish and practical.
FK: Anyone who’s style that you just can’t get enough of?
RG: Gwen Stefani. I even love the Harajuku Mini Collection.
FK: Name 5 things you can’t live without.
1. My Ebel watch that I got from my parents as a wedding present.
2. Granola bars. My daughter is always hungry. So, mommy is a life saver!
3. iPhone. I am a social media addict!
5. Inkkas shoes – fun, stylish and practical.
FK: Creative minds tend to be good at a lot of different things. We’ve seen many designers pursue other creative projects. Are you working on any special projects right now you could tell us about?
RG: I am working on my bridal hair accessories collection, which is scheduled to launch with our Winter or Spring 2015 collection.
FK: When you’re not designing your next ROP Collection, what do you like to do?
RG: I like to sew kids and baby clothes. I am always looking for an excuse to make a kid’s dress as a present. They are just so cute.
FK: Do you have any other hobbies or interests?
RG: My husband and I love to travel and still have many countries on our bucket list. Our goal is to show our daughter many different countries and cultures, so she would understand that each of us are different, special and unique.
FK: Do you ever get to take a break from the business?
RG: LOL! Maybe you should ask my husband this question.
FK: When you do get a break, where do you like to go to relax?
RG: To the park or ice cream shop, when I am taking my daughter to play outside.
FK: What’s next for ROP?
RG: Wholesale. However, quantities are still very limited. What makes ROP special is we are working with salvaged material. We are collecting many different fabrics so it won’t go to waste and reduce our carbon footprint. So, each design is very special. When the design is sold out, we are not making them anymore.
FK: Are there any plans for expanding the brand that you could talk about?
RG: I am working on my bridal hair accessories collection, that should be coming out this Winter or Spring 2015.
FK: Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy day to chat with us!