Basel, Switzerland-based expat and digital design megastar Amanda Campo sat down with us to shed light on her experiences working in corporate design and fashion (EBay Fashion & BananaRepublic.com, among others). She also shares her current projects: exploring Switzerland, Paris, and Germany with her ADORABLE children, and starting up the very first pour over coffee shop in Leland, Michigan. As an entrepreneur and mother of two who just moved her family across the world, we're in awe of how much she accomplishes and grateful she made the time to sit down and catch up with us. We hope you enjoy her insights as much as we did.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
I’m definitely an “early bird” wannabe.
Choice breakfast food?
Eggs … preferably poached with wilted spinach.
What's one thing you do every day?
Smother my children with kisses.
Favorite color & why?
It’s always been grey. I'm a pretty laid back person and I feel the color grey reflects my spirit... Within design projects I like to start with a neutral because you can easily transform it. For me, this applies to fashion, decorating, and digital.
Tell us about your current project, Blue Boat.
Recently, my husband, brother, sister-in-law and I built and opened a small coffee shop, Blue Boat in the small boating town of Leland, Michigan. The dream of always wanting to own and operate my own business, along with my passion for great coffee and customer service, became a reality! I’ve always been super interested in architecture and interior design, and wanted the opportunity to transform a space and own the branding / packaging / whole experience. It’s in the perfect sleepy town that really comes alive in the summertime. Blue Boat offers something no one else in the town has: a carefully, crafted pour over or espresso in a curated space.
Inspiring creative past-time?
Definitely cooking, it’s an easy way to switch gears, get off the computer and just be creative. I’ve always enjoyed creating with my hands, and the kitchen has all the right tools and possibilities. It was the perfect decompressing pastime for me when I was deep in corporate work at Gap and EBay. Cooking forced me to do some work offline, since at the time, I was usually buried in my machine.
That reminds us… Gap! What was your role during your time there?
I worked as part of the online design team for bananarepublic.com. At that time the brand was in it’s infancy stages and I was the web design manager overseeing the design of seasonal shopping experiences for both mens and womens. The team I was a part of also supported ongoing photoshoots for the website and online marketing. The product design team would dictate seasonal taglines, color palettes, and we would leverage that to make sure art direction for the photoshoots was cohesive w/ the seasonal look.
You have another big brand in your resume, EBay. Can you tell us a bit about how you helped re-brand their Fashion category?
Yes! At the time EBay had fashion items spread out across the site in different categories so it was our job to reorganize everything into one single fashion category. Day to day it was a big team effort. I worked with a team to develop the global visual design for ebay fashion, we leveraged content to editorialize it, make it feel more like a destination for fashion. We developed a ton of mock online clickable experiences and did extensive user testing to perfect the UI. Later Ebay rolled the look / UI out to the UK audience and Germany.
Sounds like you’ve accomplished a lot during your career, which means you MUST know an amazing secret travel destination where you can escape from it all. Care to share?
It has to be Leland, Michigan, where I started my coffee business. I grew up here during my summers, loving the beaches and beauty that my children can now experience. Leland is tucked away in a small peninsula of northern Michigan, an unknown “paradise” of the midwest. The landscape is breathtaking, positioned along the vast, fresh waters of Lake Michigan and historic Sleeping Bear Dunes.
If you are ever stuck in a rut, how do you get the creative juices flowing again?
I go outside, I move around, I travel. A change of environment usually does the trick. Instagram can also be quite inspiring. Right now I’m doing a creative project on Instagram led by Bay Area artist, Elle Luna, formally of IDEO (where she designed Uber's beautiful app and other iconic digital projects). It’s called #The100DayProject, and it challenges you to create for 100 days. During the course of the project one is bound to hit a creative rut, and I like that since you must do something everyday it forces you to push through.
From your Instagram feed it’s super apparent that your children are a big inspiration in your life. How have they influenced your creative process / life as a designer?
I think having kids has pushed me outside of my “creative process comfort zone”. Reason being, before I had kids the creative process was always solitary and then later on led to being collaborative. I love the preliminary solitary exploration part of the process; it’s a reflection of the way I relate to the world around me as an introvert. I really value that time and being able to bounce those ideas off of other designers and collaborate. Being a parent makes me more deliberate in my design process because of the time limitations. When I have those infrequent periods of time alone I savor it more. When I have an idea and need to express it and don’t have the luxury of alone time, I find a way to incorporate my children in the experience. Ultimately I want my kids to know that I have a career, so in the future my goal is to figure out a way to balance doing it all.
How would you describe your design style?
Simple. I love the Chanel quote “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”
Keystone fashion accessory in your life?
My grandmother, GranPat’s gold charm bracelet. GranPat had a strong influence on me ... She was so effortless and creative in her style, her personality and her cooking. After she passed away, her iconic charm bracelet was given to me, THE family heirloom she created by collecting fond memories throughout her life, all represented in unique gold charms. I remember playing with this bracelet for hours... I now look forward to adding my own memories along the way!!Underrated or up-and-coming musician you love?
Lately I’ve been listening to Susan Tedeschi… I’m a sucker for a strong, sexy female vocalist. Neko Case is also in heavy rotation.
Before you leave us, what's one piece of advice you'd like to share with aspiring designers?
My favorite design advice has always been KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid).