With more than 5 years agency and freelance experience, Nat Grogan is a visual designer. If it wasn’t for her, the Noctis Magazine website that you’re looking at right now wouldn’t be the same. Creating and defining the style of a brand is something Nat Grogan is versed in. She gives brands the voice they didn’t know they had.
In 2012, she graduated from Central Saint Martins, and by 2014 she had completed a Masters in Fashion Media Production at London College of Fashion. She doesn’t shy away from innovation and entrepreneurship. After reminding ourselves of the redesign she led us through, which you can see the process of here, we spoke to her about starting out on your own, fashion trends and social media as a powerful tool.
AFTER STUDYING A GRAPHIC DESIGN COURSE, WHAT MADE YOU MOVE INTO SOMETHING MORE FASHION ORIENTATED FOR YOUR MA?
I moved to London in 2008 for the Graphic Design course at CSM, which was really great to get the fundamentals of design down; typography, layout, concepts and thinking about the bigger picture. Towards the end of the course, a lot of my work was becoming more fashion focussed, so I applied to a Masters called ‘Fashion Media Production’ at LCF. It was a really new course, and totally multidisciplinary so it meant I could explore new avenues. I really wanted to dip into new areas and collaborate. But ultimately hone in on what my ‘niche’ was, before settling on a career path.
YOU’VE WON QUITE A FEW AWARDS. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BUSINESS FUNDED AND RECOGNISED FOR YOUR WORK?
It’s very gratifying. The awards came as a complete surprise to me though, just because I’d never really won anything like that before. To be awarded for something I really believed in and was keen to dive head-first into was really exciting. The mentorship that came with it gave me a push into starting up my company and ultimately doing this full-time.
STARTING OUT ON YOUR OWN IS A BIG RISK. WHAT MADE YOU TAKE THE LEAP INTO RUNNING YOUR OWN COMPANY, WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE?
I think after graduating it was the right timing and a case of why wouldn’t you? With no business degree or experience I was a bit clueless at first. But, and only after a few beers into our final festival one Summer, my boyfriend Lucas believed in the vision enough to take the leap with me, which meant that we could learn the ropes together as we went along. That really spun it for me.
I’d say when you’re starting out you’ll need to span a lot of areas of the business you’re building. It means that each day is different, which I consider a bonus. You’ll need to be prepared to work long hours to fit it all in. All in all though, the past couple of years have taught me so much, and the friends I’ve met along the way inspire me daily. I’m super happy with the direction it’s taking me in.
I SEE YOUR WEBSITE SEARCHSTYLE.COM FOCUSES ON FASHION TRENDS, CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT IT AND ABOUT ALL EYES?
So, Search Style began on my MA. What started off as a simple Instagram-driven site has developed into a social network that spotlights the style on the streets from our users in over 60 countries. It’s about giving people access to the community and inspiration they’re looking for.
At the moment, my main focus is All Eyes. It’s an idea that’s been two years in the making, and we’re finally ready to start telling people about it. It’s a creative trend forecasting tool for fashion designers, stylists and buyers. This isn’t a stereotypical “trend forecasting” service though. We want our subscribers to forecast the trends based on their own needs. Our platform allows them to create bespoke trend reports filled with real social inspiration and data, that validates their gut instincts.
Our main point of difference is that we’re spotlighting emerging fashion trends from street level in real time. We look at user generated content. It’s unfiltered and unbiased, so it’s a truthful indication of consumer demand. We want to pioneer a consumer-led style movement.
We’ve spent the past year doing our research, talking to fashion designers, stylists, buyers. After late night brainstorms, endless surveys, and long conversations with a bunch of insightful people, we know what problems they face on a daily basis when it comes to doing their jobs. We provide the tools they need to solve these issues. Right now, we’re partnering with brands for testing.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE FASHION TREND AT THE MOMENT?
That’s a hard question! I’m focussing on LA and New York trends for work right now, so Coachella has been a great place to look. I’m loving how festival fashion is becoming more street-wear inspired. It makes for a nice change. I also love the ‘branded’ look; loads of throwback logos from the nineties popping up everywhere, like Playboy and Kappa. Super easy to emulate if you never got around to cleaning out your wardrobe from back in the day.
WHAT VISUAL DESIGNERS ARE YOU INSPIRED BY?
I used to work as a designer at a creative agency called Phantom, based in Old St. They’re a relatively new agency, and the team are endlessly innovating and are really pushing the boundaries. Check out their VR projects on Petra and Mont Blanc. Seriously inspiring.
HAVE YOU GOT ANY INTERESTING PROJECTS YOU’RE WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
When I’m not working on All Eyes, I work as a freelance designer until the early hours. I’ve just finished off a project with DJ Stellar who’s recently launched a show on NTS radio. I’m also currently designing a website for an artist who’s exhibiting at the National Portrait Gallery this Summer.
There’s also an exciting print design project that I’m collaborating on for a new fashion and lifestyle brand launching in September. It’s something a bit different to what I’m used to, but it’s really interesting as it centres around optical illusions. It’s a lot of trial and error at the moment, but I’m excited to see the finished product.
I REALLY LIKE THE PROMOTIONAL INVITATION YOU DESIGNED FOR YOUNG FOODIES, IT WAS VERY CLEAN WITH A NICE USE OF COLOUR. WHAT’S YOUR THOUGHT PROCESS WHEN DESIGNING FOR OTHER COMPANIES?
Thanks so much! Well, when I’m working on a logo or branding project, it’s really about working with the client to communicate the right tone of voice and brand values. How they want to be seen, what audience they are looking to speak to, etc. The visuals come after. I think working alongside a UX designer on All Eyes has really changed my thought process when it comes to approaching new website briefs. I’ve learnt to be more systematic.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS SUCH A DRIVING FORCE NOWADAYS. HOW DO YOU THINK SOCIAL MEDIA AFFECTS FASHION TRENDS?
Social media has created a whole new style of fashion content. I think these days anyone with an Instagram account has the power to influence, so the dynamics of the industry are in a state of flux.
I also think there’s less of a design dictation within the industry. It’s no longer a matter of having to rely on the same templates and forecasting authorities, which completely damaged the industry’s creativity. Brands can now log on and see what’s happening for themselves, but because everything’s dramatically sped up and the content isn’t organised, it puts a strain on the entire process. Everyday it’s a new stream of fashion trends and it’s difficult to filter and process the information.
Designers now need to learn how to work fast and make pieces that will sell tomorrow as well as further into the future. This is the problem we’re trying to address with All Eyes.
SEE NAT GROGAN’S PORTFOLIO HERE | @nat_grogan