On location at Lokal-gourmet cafe and urban enclave in Wicker Park-I interviewed a driving force behind the city's fashion and art scene. Chicago's premier fashion designer, curator, stylist and event promoter-the lady named Agga B.
Q. You are most recognized as a fashion designer-but you are truly building a brand that is expanding to styling for major companies, producing events and more-how have you achieved such heights?
A. Much of what has taken place is due to relationships I keep with people in the industry, past collaborations that lead to new work. For example, I will be working on a styling project with Navy Pier. They were looking to set a new direction for their promotional campaign and my photographer submitted a concept to them using a prior photo shoot I styled and they chose to work with us based on that.
I've been styling for over five years now-here, in New York-all around for a variety of press and have built an impressive portfolio of work. Artistic directors aren't second guessing my ability and so now I get pretty good jobs.
And doing this makes me happy. I love putting my name on fashion imprints in the industry-which for me is fashion, curating and styling. Agga B. is more than just a clothing line. I'm very comfortable in what I do and don't let my ego take over. I'm still learning...I didn't go to marketing school so I do everything live.
Q. So what has been your inspiration and how did you pick Chicago to do what you do?
A. I picked Chicago by coincidence and things fell into place. I initially went to University of Lodz Law School in Poland. My first dream was to be a judge, I was very ambitious. I completed a year and then a friend invited me to visit and that was it.
When I visited Chicago I met a drag queen who liked me and he invited me to a fashion show. There I met some people and two weeks later I got a job as production assistant for the United Colors of Bennetton. I started styling runways not even knowing how to speak English-but somehow it happened. I got really inspired and started to work on my own collection. Like a little fish that drinks a lot of water wanting to grow-I got so excited I started then.
Fashion for me was always happening behind the scene because my parents
are fashion designers. I started designing clothes for my Barbie dolls,
and at every school dance party I was always wearing my own clothes.
I got called away to do a show in New York at a big gala at the Hilton Hotel, packed my things and moved there for two years styling and designing. I came back to complete the filing for my citizenship papers and stayed. Soon after, I was selected by Melissa Gamble of the Mayor's Fashion Council to be a part of the Macy's Fashion Incubator Program.
Q. What keeps you here vis-a-vis living in New York...London?
A. The people are what keep me here. The people are very, very good to me here. I would never have been able to accomplish what I did if I wouldn't have been for so many amazing people around me-since day one.
Q. How did you become aware of the Macy's Fashion Incubator Program and how has it helped you progress as a designer and business woman?
A. I've been always around Macy's because I style, just like I'm at every store all the time. A friend who was working on the Incubator PR campaign knew the program was happening and kept me up to date about the plan. The time came-I applied and was chosen.
The Fashion Incubator has helped me very, very much because I have met amazing people through Macy's. All the people in management-like Andrea Schwartz-all those people are really, really amazing and I trust them. They helped me to be more confident because I had people that liked my clothes. Through the program I also had women in certain high-level positions that were cool and easy going. I learned a lot about communication, about a level of confidence-how to speak to people at certain positions. It was a really great education, another life experience.
Q. The Toyota Creative Lounge you have spearheaded is quite fun-how did this come about?
A. I won a competition held in Chicago and was given the opportunity to partner with Toyota. I've been working with them for over two and half years. The Creative Lounge was all based on ideas and coming up with concepts for the company to enhance their brand awareness. This space is the result of one of the ideas.
After a year and half of conversations our creative team decided to open up creative lounges all over the world. With the support from the city-Chicago was the first location to open at 1564 N. Damen, 3rd floor. Now there are 4 more around the world to have opened since-Bangkok, Bilbao, Budapest and Tokyo. We have a new event created every month-the next one is First Pride to take place June 1.
Q. What advice can you leave for others with similar ambitions and plans for their dreams?
A. My way is to don't lose your focus. Be whatever you want to be. Don't take life too serious-always keep your sense of humor. Forget bad stuff and move on-there is no time for bullshit. Party, party, party with good and smart people-avoid bad people with lots of troubles. And last is first, don't lose your focus.
Imma Be where AGGA B-at her next "First Series" party and so should you!