Bridgette is the go-to girl at Jeffrey Campbell, having her hand in everything from sales to social media to bag design and generally, she defines the ultimate JC girl life. Never one to shy away from a good story, Miss Bayley gave us the lowdown on her involvement with the famed Lita, her best travel memory (it involves a conga line), and her fantasy dreamland combining the best of LA and NYC. Also, she makes us giggle.
We hear you are a SoCal girl living in the concrete jungle of NYC. If you could envision your ideal place, which elements of each coast would make it? Describe the people in that city.
ZOMG ROFLCOPTOR. That is the best question ever. Both are so different but so amazing… that if I were able to combine the two I might actually explode. Bare with me….
Los Angeles is the taste of warm sea salt + Tabasco, and the smell of tortillas and beer. In LA, I am driving down the 110 listening to The Smiths losing myself in Morrisey’s voice. I’m going to abandoned warehouse parties on 6th and Alameda to see my favorite bands preform on a half pipe. I’m crushing on South Bay crusty punks a.k.a. “Pier Rats” with Black Flag tats and bragging rights to knowing the dudes from Penny Wise. I’m from the beach cities, so being surrounded by Art Deco buildings from the 60′s and beach shacks that never went away defines my being. Basically, I’M FROM THERE SO DON’T GO THERE!
As Lady Gaga says, New York City is my leather jacket. It reminds me of whiskey and cigarettes (in a good way). I put it on, and I feel like myself. New York, to me, is that amazing 100 year old Polish lady that sits outside of the bakery on 1st ave in the East Village, smoking cigarettes and cursing at pedestrians. It is the piss cave of a trashcan that houses the best restaurants and the grimiest of underground speakeasys. In Manhattan I am running around with a gaggle of gays, going to drag shows and dancing until 5am…falling in love on the subway, and falling over in my Litas on the cobble stones of Soho. To me, this is life. “They have weather, we have life.” – Kelly Cutrone
What I am trying to say is I wish I lived in a beach hut with a bunch of trannies and angry old ladies wearing leather jackets.
You’ve been with Jeffrey Campbell for years, starting with an internship. Do you think it’s possible to break into this industry (or any other) without a solid learning experience under your belt? What are the 3 pieces of work advice you would offer to a young Bridgette?
I studied fashion design in Downtown LA, but honestly feel that anything that I am doing now is a result of life experience and being able to go with the flow. I mean, I would LOVE to say that I started working at JC because of some college career program, but in reality I met my guardian angel Ty McBride (former JC brand manager) at a pizza place in Brooklyn at 5am on Halloween 2008. I may have been dressed as a superhero cat, and I may not have been super sober. We instantly fell in love, and he asked me to be his intern right then and there. All I had to do was send an email with the subject title “SAUSAGE PIZZA TINY BOYFRIEND”. The rest? Well, the rest is history.
Advice to young Bridgette’s (Hopefully this means you have an over bite and a mullet): Anybody can do anything. The world is your oyster. You would be surprised to see what is attainable if you have the drive. Oh, and ALWAYS go out on Halloween.
Who is THE Jeffrey Campbell? I sort of picture him like that holographic sci-fi man in Power Rangers, spewing out hit making shoe styles. I majorly hope that’s who he is.
I am not allowed to say. He is a secret magical wizard. My friends like to call him a “Unicorn Angel” that lives off of rainbow sherbert and baby tears only. Or does he?
A little birdie mentioned you had a hand in making the legendary Lita, the style manufactured in almost every fabric and leather under the sun. Did the brand ever anticipate the shoe to blow up and for so long? Where do you pull inspiration for the many twists on the coveted style (Cleata, Night Walk Lita, Lana, etc.)?
OH. MY. GOD. I remember sending that email. I want to print it out and frame it.
Inspiration? It was inspired by many things: part Vivienne Westwood circa early 90′s, part dungeons and dragons, part club kid. Inspiration for Lita’s children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren comes from whatever is current and on trend. The Lita is a classic, but we have to make sure she is constantly growing and moving forward. We had no idea it would blow up like it has! To be honest, we never know, really. With so many styles and WE SHOULD MAKE THESE emails per day, it becomes so hard to predetermine what our girls will freak over versus what they are going to hate blog about. Perfect example: Anybody remember the Michelle? The unicorn ruffle heel of ’09? [Ed. note: We sure do!] You JC girls are crazy and unpredictable. And we LOVE it.
Who names JC shoes? Are they tribute to some really cool friends, and if so when can we hang with them?
Sharon in the LA office does most of the naming. She is amazin and endlessly creative! Sometimes, if we are lucky, shoes show up to the trade shows unnamed and we get to throw in an inside joke, or ex-boyfriend reference. If the shoe doesn’t sell? It is the ultimate revenge! (hahahahaha)
The brand is such a blogger staple with a solid network of advocates across the web. How has this affected the brand’s development? Do you ever foresee bloggers becoming part of the design process?
Bloggers are the heart of JC. They are one of the biggest reasons that we are where we are today. JC as a brand started becoming popular just as blogging started taking off. Thanks to Ty, we “grew” with blog culture, if you will. He saw an opportunity with this growing phenom of social media and really ran with it. This is what really got me interested in the brand the reason why I am freakishly addicted to my job.
I remember when I was interning, I would just sit there in awe of what he was doing. Emailing bloggers, linking them to our blog posts and tweets, sending shoes to It girls before they were IT girls, and truly creating JC addicts. He was doing all of this before anybody knew what a Blogspot was. People…I’m talking PRE-TUMBLR and PRE-INSTAGRAM. Like 2008 realness.
While many JC shoes are an ode to vintage, others appear to be from the year 3000. Which decade speaks most to you personally?
90′s. I hate to say it, but I will be wearing regional store manager of Chico’s South Coast Plaza 1995 platform comfort sandals and square toed Sketcher sneaker heels of 1993 [Ed. note: I had those too!!!] for the rest of my life. Deal with it Ann Taylor. Deal with it Jones New York.
JC’s bag line is your baby. What drew the brand to developing accessories? If you could only splurge on one item which are you going with, purse or shoes?
I came from a bag brand in LA. Hammitt represent! The big boss suggested that I take it on as my project. Sometimes I have to pinch myself. I splurge on shoes most of the time. Wang’s Spring 2012 pointy toed ankle strapped pumps are next on my list. I will overdraft. Don’t test me.
Traveling is a giant part of your job. Tell us your wildest trip memory: who, what, where, when, why.
I love how real this is getting!!! So duh… a lot of my traveling has to do with being in Las Vegas. Last year, we had a huge JC dinner at the Aria Hotel. I mean HUGE. I’m talking the entire JC LA and NYC team, JC Spain, and JC Japan. Our Men’s designer/my BFF Conor and I are obsessed with our Japanese distributor. So obsessed, that we even dared each other that by the end of the night, one of us had to start a MR. TABATTA chant. The chant was started, in a 4 star Chinese restaurant, at 8pm on a Monday night. Wine lips and all, several sophisticated members of JC were pounding on the table, chanting “TA-BAT-AH, TA-BAT-AH!” The story ends with all 20 of us doing a choo choo train dance and chasing him around the restaurant. What happens in Vegas? Goes on the Karmaloop blog! (I just lost all my chances to be sent to Japan.)
Let’s end on a would you rather: wear a thong over every outfit (80′s aerobics instructor style) or never eat cheese again? Isn’t that an awkward question? I would likely wear the thong, depending on how ugly it is.
I can see it now. Spring-summer 2016: Proenza Schouler for Sisqo’s Thong Song. If I start now, I will be ahead of the trend. And my addiction to goat cheese will not have to suffer.