Amy Smilovic, Founder & Creative Director of Tibi on creating a brand with a clear, contemporary DNA.
What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?
While still in bed, I grab my iPad and download the Wall Street Journal. I peruse and read about four to five articles before getting up, which is usually around 6:15 am. I then make two cups of coffee and while it’s brewing, I check my Instagram DM’s. I can usually answer around 20 messages before the coffee finishes brew- ing. Lastly, I write a to-do list for the day while sipping my coffee.
What inspired you to launch Tibi and how has it evolved?
I’ve always been fascinated by why we dress the way we do. I always knew I wanted to start my own company and as I have been pretty good at business, I decided to launch one. With a strong experience at Ogilvy and American Express, in addition to the myriad of jobs I had since the age of 11 throughout college, be it waitressing or more, I knew my experience would help. After moving to Hong Kong in 1997, I had al- ready spent four years at American Express. I was in the right place and it was about time for a career pivot, hence, I decided to start my own company. With a combination of my love for fashion and sketching as I had a minor in art in college, I believed this was something that I could do well.
The brand champions individuality yet embraces a cool, contemporary aesthetic. Was this the vision from the outset?
It was the vision from day one, but I would say on day 15, the vision changed. I didn’t understand what I needed to do to stay on track. As I became interested in exploring fashion and different styles, I wasn’t great at connecting the dots for my customers on how the whole story fits together. For years, I became more about key trends rather than an identifiable throughline – a clear brand DNA. But today, it’s a different story. We know who we are, and we never steer from it.
How do you achieve effortless polish when you personally dress and how does having a clear idea of your own taste support this?
I always think about the way I would describe myself as relaxed, modern and a bit classic. This always has to be reflected on me at all times, especially in my clothing choices. The character trait that makes me distinct is that I crave things with a sense of humor, with a witty spin. Every time I dress, I work to achieve this.
Can you talk us through your creative process and how do you ensure consistency season after season?
The creative process is ongoing. Each collection begets the next in some way, either it is a reaction against it or a desire to continue for more. No matter what, it keeps the collection connected if I am rejecting something I’ve done in the past, because I am a human and really do wear my own clothing that logically follows that others are rejecting it too. It’s the answer we all may be craving mutually. The same stands to reason for when I desire to continue a storyline we’ve started – but to leave it stagnant never feels right. I always want to push forward, with measure.
Your utilitarian spirit is visible in the Spring 2022 collection – tell us more?
The Spring collection really was about curiosity and thoughtfulness. How I crave that expression in what I wear, that balance between creativity and pragmatism. I wanted to explore a creative side this season that involved handwork like the crochet of a knit or the slice in the sleeve of a sweater while balancing this with utility, making sure each detail had a place in the life I live every day.
This is The Clarity Issue – how do you maintain clarity in your life and work practice?
Well, it’s all a scale. Some days I do it well and some days I do not. Often, when I reflect back, I see maybe I did not give myself enough credit at the time as it’s a process. The best way to achieve a clear vision is to constantly question yourself but doing it in a way that propels you forward and does not lead you in negative circles is key. I am not indecisive; however, it doesn’t mean I al- ways make good decisions. This does mean that I choose to move forward or backward if it’s where the decision led me. I trust in the process, and sometimes you do have to take a few steps backward in order to move forward, right?
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