When it comes to being busy, fashion guru Carly Vidal-Wallace knows exactly what it’s like. Being the Director of Brisbane Fashion Month, a mother of two and working on 30 other projects, means she’s constantly on the go! To top it all off, she’s recently moved to the US with her family.
In awe of her dedication and time management skills, we thought we’d ask her a few questions about moving and how she still manages to keep up with everything while she’s overseas.
Carly, when and why did you move to the US?
We first came in September 2016 for a trial month with the whole family to make sure it was a country where we wanted to establish ourselves long term. The visa process then took us through to March before we were able to move back. My husband’s career warranted the move.
What’s it like living in the US, compared to Brisbane?
Honestly, it’s really similar! I am based in Orange County, so we are about fifteen minutes from the beach, 2 hours from any skiing in the Winter and only an hour from LA.
The landscape reminds me so much of Brisbane, from the Jacaranda trees to how green it is, to the beachside setting and the houses. I love the Californian lifestyle.
Your social media followers get to see all the incredible things you get up to, so what does a typical working day look like for you?
I’m a mum first and foremost so every day starts with getting the family ready. I scooter or bike ride the kids to school. I then have until about 3pm local time until Australia wakes up (and my phone starts ringing). I spend my days either working from my home office, which is my absolute sanctuary filled with all my favourite things; to meetings with the local publications I have been working with or driving up to LA to meet with the Embassy where I have been consulting on different projects.
Mostly though, I check in on my awesome Australian staff and see where we are up to (from the previous 24 hours) with tasks for Brisbane Fashion Month coming up in October.
How many projects are you handling at the moment and which one is you favourite?
I’d rather not count it would make me dizzy thinking I could achieve so much (it’s over 30 something currently). I have the absolute luxury of only taking on work I love and I am passionate about. There is something really close to my heart in working only with Queensland fashion with Brisbane Fashion Month, but goodness it’s so exciting working in New York. For example; when the Australian Fashion Chamber had their buying studio there a little earlier this year.
With so many projects on the go, what are your tips for getting everything done and still having time with the family?
Know that we are not all perfect and give ourselves a break. Some days I get it right and I do everything in the right balance, enough time with the kids, enough time at work and other days I get it so wrong. I spend time each day and sometimes multiple times a day working on my task list, I do jump from project to project in the same day getting through the priorities list. Everything I work on generally has a deadline so I calendar out my tasks and I constantly check in on myself. I also know when to ask for help and try and share the workload with my team.
It is also important to always remember that family is everything, while I might lose a business deal which I will recover from, we only have one chance with our kids when they are young – I always try and make sure this is my priority. We have strict rules about no phones or work at certain times to get quality family time in without distractions and keep a healthy lifestyle with good food and exercise (and lots of laughs!).
Also, just to add – if you expect and want greatness and an amazing life and career, you need to work hard for it. Some nights (a lot!) I am up until 1am working, I think social media makes it all look so simple these days, but a big portion is just getting the work done.
How are the kids settling in? Was it hard for them to adjust to different schooling, new friends, new house etc?
We were living in France, then Australia, now the US. The kids are little global citizens, love plane flights and adapt really well to the adventure. Our core family is like a rock so we offer stability as soon as we are all home with great routines no matter what country we are living in.
For two boys, coming to California has been amazing – the active lifestyle from swimming clubs to basketball, bike riding to school, a very close-knit neighbourhood where all the kids play together in the afternoons. The education is excellent – we are in one of the top-rated US schools, but I am overly surprised by the higher level, innovative teaching (with things like adaptive school rooms with children getting to choose where and how they sit and lots of different furniture options), the shorter days and less homework and my favourite is the school canteen with healthy hot meal choices for lunches.
Packing up and moving to a different country sounds extremely hard, how did you handle everything?
I am so extremely lucky as each time we do an international move it is completely organised by a moving company. Packers come in, pack our house then get it onto a ship then unpack at the other end.
Will you be coming back to Australia soon?
I come back quite often with work, every 6 weeks or so I am always back in Brisbane. I need to be there in October as well for Brisbane Fashion Month.
What’s the fashion industry like over in US, is it different to Australia?
I live about 15 minutes away from South Coast Plaza, this is the highest revenue shopping centre in the whole of the US. The shops there are incredible – every luxury label under the sun. Orange County is such a mix match of styles and trends, I think the massive population in the US means that there is so much diversity in what people are wearing. The trends from East Coast to West Coast are completely different.
As I am close to the beach the style is always a little more relaxed, there is a definite sporty activewear/daywear trend for the mums – much like Australia, and you can find Lorna Jane shops here on every corner. However, while day trends might be relaxed/beach/activewear, the gala/ fundraiser scene in the evenings tells a different story.
Some of the wealthiest families from the US are based in Orange County, certain fundraising charity events see tickets of $10k just to attend the gala, at these events you will see Oscar de la Renta and even famous Brisbane jeweller Margot Mckinney. LA which is an hour away again is completely different, I guess it’s a little like the style on the Sunshine Coast is a little more relaxed to Brisbane.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I am passionate about teaching and training, every year I spend a lot of time with interns and even junior staff members, and I do genuinely love mentoring and passing on knowledge. I am looking to build this out even more so into a structured learning course. The fashion industry is just so hard to break into, I feel the experience and knowledge they get from working with myself and my team provide actual career opportunities and connections. I will be having some of the sessions in Brisbane with Brisbane Fashion Month and others in the US with the various events I run.
I am also consulting for a few core labels looking to boost sales into the US creating a link from Australia to the Americas, via private events and key contacts.
I plan on taking on more work with the activities of the Australian Fashion Chamber in the US where possible, like assisting with the studio they had in New York – I am passionate about seeing our Australian labels have real opportunity in the overseas market and I love everything the AFC stands for and is trying to build abroad for our fashion industry.
Lastly, Brisbane Fashion Month will remain a core focus, making sure QLD Fashion continues to have a voice and leading the team with my business partner Laura Churchill, a portion of this will also include first nations projects which are close to my heart.
For more information about Carly Vidal-Wallace visit www.carlyvidalwallace.com
For more information about Brisbane Fashion Month visit www.brisbanefashionmonth.com.au