Wednesday, November 27

Designer Jillian Harris: The "Charlie Ford Vintage" Interview

Sure, you may have first seen Jillian Harris on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette (and been intrigued by her theory about a guy's personality being linked to his favourite hot dog condiments), but this Canadian designer is way more than "former reality show contestant".

In addition to running her own firm, Jillian is the resident designer on Love It Or List It: Vancouver, plus she has a pretty fantastic website (www.jillianharris.com) where she blogs about not only décor, but also fashion, food and life in general.

As if this weren't enough, Jillian recently launched a brand-new business with cousin Tori Wesszer and friend Alyssa Dennis called Charlie Ford Vintage, where the ladies work together to find and curate unique vintage and antique pieces and organize them all in one accessible and attractive online location for shoppers to discover and purchase.

As her popularity as a TV personality grew, Jillian was asked more and more "Where did you get that vintage piece?" She wanted to have a place to direct her fans, and so Charlie Ford was born. (First the baby - not hers - then the business. Huh? Read on for details!)





Why vintage, and can you pinpoint the conception of Charlie Ford to a particular moment? {This Mom's note: the company is named after her cousin Tori's son - I'm glad Jillian realized I was talking about the conception of the business, and not the child - that would be a bit too personal for this blog!}

I think it all comes down to, why NOT vintage? New things are always great but there’s so much life left in old pieces, too! Tori, Alyssa and myself  have loved old things since we were little girls. My mom owned a little antique shop where she let me help out with the merchandising as a kid, and it stuck! Last October, Tori and I were on one of our antique picking trips, and we came across these awesome old ammo boxes. We threw around the idea of recreating them to sell on my website, but quickly realized that the reason we loved them was that they had lived this amazing life and had a story to tell, which you just don’t get with new pieces. From there, we quickly came up with the e-commerce concept of Charlie Ford Vintage, and the rest is history!





What is your day-to-day role with Charlie Ford?

Haha, how about resident stress-case and over-reacher?? No, in all seriousness, I absolutely love my role as Creative Director, but it’s hard to nail down exactly what my job description is because I really do cover it all. I oversee all the items we choose, help stage and photograph them, then put them up on the site. I also manage all of our support staff, write blog posts, handle media appearances, run the social media accounts…you get the idea. It’s exhausting but incredibly rewarding.




What are the best three adjectives you can think of to describe Charlie Ford to those who haven't yet heard of it?

Accessible, informative, chic.

{This Mom's note: I have to agree with those adjectives, though I would also throw in "highly addictive". In the process of researching for this interview, I may have browsed the Charlie Ford collection just a little bit. And purchased a ring. That looks something like the one in the photograph below. I also love how the items are clearly categorized - art, furniture, jewelry, etc., you can refine your search by price or see new items first, and there are even "basement" items on sale!}





I read in another interview that you've turned down opportunities because they don't fit with your brand. I know you're not going to want to name names, but what sorts of things don't jive with who/what you want "Jillian Harris" to be?

Well, for one thing, I really don’t like it when I’m asked to appear like something I’m not. I am definitely my own person, so whomever I’m working with needs to embrace my quirks or it’s a no-go. For instance, before I officially accepted my role on Love It or List It Vancouver, I made it very clear that I didn’t want to fight with Todd on-camera. While we’re obviously rivals on the show, we’re also super good friends, and I wanted to be able to joke around without coming across as mean.

Obviously, it’s also very important to me that the designs I work on align with my tastes and how I’ve built my reputation as a designer. I will never create a home that’s cold or impersonal – it has to give people the warm and fuzzies or I’m not into it!




How do you think your career would be different today if you hadn't had the experience of The Bachelor/Bachelorette?

I have no clue how my career would have turned out without The Bachelor and Bachelorette, but I do know that that I have absolutely no regrets (except for maybe those hut tub scenes – sorry mom!) I was so incredibly lucky because people responded to me really positively and I was put on the map, so to speak. I worked really, really hard to get where I am today and I’m incredibly proud of everything I’ve accomplished. It’s really a privilege to be able to do what I do day in and day out – I am totally aware of that.

Do you still keep in touch with anyone from past seasons?

Not very many, unfortunately, but there are a handful of people I still keep in touch with, including Molly and Jason Mesnick (yes, the Jason that broke my heart once-upon-a-time!) I actually designed the nursery for their new baby girl, which was such a pleasure to do. They’re incredibly sweet people and I’m glad we've all remained friends over the years.

From what I understand, this former "Bachelorette" has now found love. We want to know about Justin (and not least of all, what he puts on his hot dogs!)

I have, and I feel so, so blessed!! Justin is such an amazing guy, I’ve waited a long time for him but it’s worth it. He’s sweet and funny, and reminds me that I need to take time for myself, which is something I often forget. He’s a great communicator and helps bring that out in me as well. As for the hotdogs, he’s a ketchup and mustard kinda guy.




What are three things you still have left on your career bucket list?

Honestly, if I can get Charlie Ford Vintage to a place where it supports me and my family, that would be it. I’ve done so many things throughout my career, and that time is coming where I’ll be ready to slow down and smell the roses. CharlieFord.com is my baby and it’s what I love to do…now it just needs to pay the bills!

Three things from your personal bucket list?

It’s hard to keep it down to just three! Definitely a couple of kids, more travel (can’t get enough!) and finishing the reno on my house in Kelowna.
 
Since I seem to be in list mode, three things on your Christmas list?

GREAT question, and this time I’m not going to bother to keep it down to three things! We have some amazing pieces up on CharlieFord.com that I would be ecstatic to find under my tree:

·        I’m a sucker for jewellery, especially baubles that I can stack. This Birks Gold Wash Bracelet is an amazing pre-loved piece at only $85. A total steal!

·        Trophies are super hot home décor items right now. This one from the 1930s is from a goat show – how cool is that??

·        I’m obsessed with vintage glassware, especially pieces with a ton of personality. This Schweppes seltzer bottle from the 1930s is the perfect addition to any home bar.

·        As you know, I love unexpected accessories that add personality and a sense of intrigue to a space. This industrial table fan from the 1920s would be super funky addition to a den or dining room.

·        Old photography is so amazing because it offers a literal glimpse at a time long ago. This photo of the “Victoria Rifles,” the 24th Battalion of the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade, dates back to 1914 and is an incredible piece of Canadian history. Perfect for a funky gallery wall!





Finally, because I'm an Irish girl and enjoyed reading about your travels on your site - what's the number one attraction that I can't miss if I ever make it to Ireland (you should know that I'm NOT a beer drinker)?

Oooh this question is a bit of a toughie because we visited SO many amazing places in Ireland, even though we were only there for a few days! For natural attractions, the Cliffs of Moher are an absolute must-see. Talk about an epic view! St. Peter’s Cathedral and Dublin Castle are incredible as well (you know me and my love of history!). And I know you’re not into beer, but if you visit the Land of the Leprechauns and DON’T go to the Guinness brewery, you’re missing out!

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Thanks for sharing with us, Jillian!

Now, dear readers...if you want $10 off your first purchase at Charlie Ford, please let me know (leave a comment with your e-mail address, or send it to me at katewinn77 at yahoo dot ca). If I "invite a friend" and you make a purchase, I get a discount too, so we both win! And believe me, we will have no problem finding items to buy, though keep in mind that these pieces sell quickly, and once something's gone, it's gone for good - don't wait!

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Jillian Harris on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jillianharris
Charlie Ford on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShopCharlieFord
Love It Or List It Vancouver on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LoveItorListItV
This Mom Loves on Twitter (just making sure you're paying attention!) https://twitter.com/thismomloves



4 comments:

Janelle Morcombe said...

OOOh! Would love to have a little moolah to spend at Charlie Ford! hello@janellephotography.ca

UrbanKat said...

Great read! I'd love to try out Charlie Ford and would also love a little incentive for the both of us. Please email me at katwoodruff@gmail.com

This Mom said...

Thanks ladies - I have submitted both of your e-mail addresses!

Sue said...

Most definitely! dreamscapestudio@shaw.ca and thanks!!