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Conversation with Emily Oberg

Founder at Sporty & Rich


How has your experience been leading a business? What advice can you give someone wanting to start their own company?

It was really new for me at first because I always worked for companies and was an employee. It’s a much different set of skills to be a boss and manage people and it has definitely taken some time to learn and I’m still learning everyday but it’s good to find mentors who are leaders and read books about leading and really setting up a good, positive company culture and making sure everyone feels taken care of and part of something greater than them. I think this is the key to happiness and a big part of what we do. It’s much easier to be a follower than a leader, but sometimes you don’t have a choice! I’m grateful for the opportunity and experience it has given me. For anyone starting their own company, I would say do it your way, make sure you have strong values, and never lose sight of them. Also, be original- I can’t tell you how many brands I see out there who copy exactly what we do and it’s humbling for sure, but it’s not authentic, and there is no longevity to phoniness. You can only go so far copying people, at the end of the day you need to have a point of view, a strong sense of self, and a clear vision.

What is the design process behind a Sporty & Rich collection?

I design collections a year in advance, so you almost have to predict what people will want and create it for them. It’s a lot of referencing vintage designs and looking at inspiration from the 70s to the 90s. I spend a lot of time looking at old books and magazines and films. I work with one graphic designer who is great and knows exactly what I want. Sometimes I’ll send them a reference to work off of, or I’ll mockup something myself on photoshop. Now that we are working on more ready to wear, there is a lot more to it in terms of design and fit, and fabric. I have a great team and CEO who is very experienced in the fashion industry, so I’m very lucky to have his knowledge when it comes to fabric and garments. There is a lot to know, and it’s hard to do it well. 

What does a day in your life look like during the workweek?

It depends on what we’re working on. Most of the team is based in Paris, so when I’m there I go to the office everyday for a few hours. In LA, I am on my own so I get a lot of work done at home. When we are shooting campaigns, it’s one week of back to back shoots because we get everything done at once. But I love being busy, I like feeling productive. There are times when I work only 1 hour a day and can live a leisurely life. This is also part of the brand’s DNA— I really live the brand. I think I have been able to create the perfect work-life balance, and I’m very happy about that. 

Do you curate the music on the Sporty & Rich playlists? Do you know anything about Icelandic music, what are your favorite Icelandic artists?

Yes, I make all of the playlists myself, I am adding songs to our playlist everyday and always working on new ones! I actually don’t know many besides Bjork, but she’s iconic. The best style and voice, I love Venus as Boy by her, it’s one of my favorite songs of all time.