Kaisa Johanna Eskelinen
I am a founder and owner of clothing brand Bianca Blu. Before I started Bianca Blu, I was an investment banking professional (ex-Credit Suisse) working in institutional derivatives sales on the trading floor for over seven years. However, during my investment banking career, I found myself dreaming about fashion and beautiful designs. I have always had the very entrepreneurial mindset, and I knew that at some point I would like to launch my project. Last year I couldn't ignore my inner voice anymore, and I felt it was the right time to go out and work on something that I was passionate about.
The concept behind my fashion label developed while I worked as a sales representative in banking; I struggled to find professional clothing of good quality fabrics that would have flattering cuts. Due to my relationships, I spent a significant amount of time in Italy over the last decade, and I was fortunate to discover places to buy luxury fabrics (silks, wools, crepes..) and find the skilled tailors to work together with to create bespoke designs. This is how the first prototypes for my designs were created.
The clothes Bianca Blu is producing are created from the highest-quality Italian fabrics and tailored to emphasise the strength of being feminine.
o We only use luxury fabrics from Italy such as silks, wools, crepes. With the exception of unique French lace, all fabrics are sourced from Italy.
o We have a strong emphasis on quality tailoring, accentuating the feminine figure with designs that are form fitted
o We are also proud to manufacture all garments in Italy
The first collection, Collezione Milano, is inspired by strong women. With this collection I wanted to capture the essence of Bianca Blu woman, someone who is independent, wholeheartedly ambitious and whatever she puts her mind into, she can accomplish it. She also knows how to have fun and is not afraid to show her feminine side.
The collection consists of a mix of power dressing with a feminine twist for smart professional attire and occasion wear that celebrates the femininity in a contemporary way. The collection features tailored dresses cut in premium wool blend, jumpsuits and dresses in luxurious silk for occasion wear and finally lace tops from quality cotton blend that represent the romantic pieces in the collection.
I wanted to create a collection that flatters the feminine body with tailored lines and cuts while playing with a colour palette that puts emphasis on soft neural pastels, warm blush tones and contrast of black and white.
The collection is all about elegance and femininity infused with modern touch.
Our readers would love to get to know you more Kaisa Johanna. Tell us about yourself, what is unique about you?
My background in finance could be considered little different from others in the fashion industry, which gives me a unique perspective in the design process and business management. I have also pretty international background; I am originally from a small village in Finland, Northern Europe, but have studied in Paris and worked in London while have spent significant amount of time in Italy over the years due to my personal relationships, and all these different international experiences have had an influence on me personally and also reflected in my creative work.
Kaisa Johanna, what are your passion and aspiration in life? How did you start as a Fashion Label?
Before I started my venture in fashion, I knew I had an eye for styling and fashion as I was often complimented for the choice of outfits and my creative way of combining different design pieces together. I also very much enjoyed helping my friends in styling and clothing decisions as I felt so comfortable in that role. I realized that having the right garment has such a big effect on confidence and I want to help my clients to become more confident and feel good about themselves. Now I consider myself very fortunate to be able to work on my passion on daily basis; when I see a woman wearing one of my designs and I can see the happiness and the boost of confidence that the right garment brings to her, that is something that keeps me motivated.
Who is your inspiration in life Kaisa Johanna? How do you keep inspired?
I am inspired by strong and driven women. I could give a long list of names but as an example I could mention Marie Forleo, a businesswoman, life coach, motivational speaker and philanthropist - named by Oprah as a thought leader of the next generation. She is often speaking about the importance of following your heart and dreams, and she is a good example of someone who has worked very hard for success and I can relate to her on so many levels. She is putting a lot of work to give entrepreneurs the right tools and strategies to succeed, creating incredible content and has helped thousands of women to create a thriving business. He approach is authentic and she speaks from her heart which is why I am actively following her and feel very much inspired every time new content from her comes up. In general I keep inspired by following a number of motivational speakers. I also find that I get inspired for my creative work through spending time in nature.
We all make mistakes Kaisa Johanna, we wish we could take back. Please tell us about a time being a Fashion Label , you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.
There must have been a situation where I was working on a creative project that was supposed to showcase my clothing line together with other professionals. The final outcome was positive but there were obstacles and misunderstandings on the way making the process more time consuming that it could have been mainly due to not having a clear conversation at the very beginning about the desired look/style, and nowadays I pay attention to have very clear and thorough conversation with all the participants in the project at the very beginning in order to achieve the goal in the most efficient way.
Kaisa Johanna ,when you’re working with a large number of clients, it’s tricky to deliver excellent service to them all. As a Fashion Label, how do you go about prioritizing your clients’ needs?
There are hectic times when you are contacted by a number of customers at the same time. In order to manage the situation, I have a quick meeting with my team in order to delegate the work among us in the most efficient way making sure the most pressing things are dealt immediately and that all clients are served with the highest standards. We always follow up with the customers and any feedback is always welcome to ensure we continue to improve the customer experience.
Please tell us Kaisa Johanna, about a time you had to be very strategic in order to meet all your top priorities as a Fashion Label?
When I started my brand, it was a one woman show, I juggled with having several roles at the same time : fashion designer, production manager, logistics manager, marketing manager, PR representative, customer service representative. I would have very detailed time schedule with 'non-negotiable time' dedicated to the most pressing and important issues to make sure I handle all business issues in the most efficient way. Also every evening I would prepare for the next day with list of priorities, this is a practice that I do and it keeps me focused.
Kaisa Johanna, please give us an example of a time when you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way at work.
I wanted to get my team members on board for applying a new tool in marketing (influencer marketing platform). We had traditionally spoken to influencers individually but opportunity came to try a platform that could represent a more efficient marketing method. However, I knew it would be tough to convince other team members to change things up due to costs and other important considerations. I first tested the idea with my friends in the industry to get their feedback. Then I did my research and recommended approach to other decision makers and walked them through the changes, important considerations, and then the benefits. After that meeting, we were all on board and agreed to change the marketing approach and test the new method.
Kaisa Johanna please tell us about your proudest professional accomplishment as a Fashion Label. There might be many, but there is always this proudest moment that you just want to share to everyone. What is it and why?
Bianca Blu is relatively new brand and my proudest moment was when my first collection went live after all the hard work that I had put into it. I choose this moment for the one reason which is that the hardest part is taking the first step and implementing your dream. Many of us dream about something for years but it takes courage to step out of comfort zone and take the leap. When I saw the first customers wearing my designs, I was feeling very moved and couldn't feel happier about my decision to launch my own fashion label.
Kaisa Johanna, please give us an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or difficult about it?
The benefit of my work is that it is a creative role. I loved the process of creating my website, I had a very clear vision in my mind at very early stage. The exciting part was that I could use different elements (lookbook, video, blog etc) to create a very bespoke look for my website and the fact that I got new inspirations throughout the process made the work very exciting and rewarding. The most uncomfortable part was that even if we had a website developer, I still had to get out of my comfort zone and do some technical background work to have the desired outcome, this was time consuming but it was worth it; I felt so happy when finally launched our website.
What advice would you give to the people who wants to be successful as a Fashion Label?
Find a mentor in the industry already at very early stage that can guide you through the process. It is important to have support at that critical time. Be curious and ask lots of questions. Believe in yourself and work hard, the success will follow.
Are you looking for collaboration with fashion talents, brands and creatives? If yes, please state below what type of collaboration you are looking for?
I would be happy to meet other entrepreneurs or talents in related fields, I am very open to discuss new collaborations and ideas. As an example, It could be a marketing collaboration with another brand or collaboration with an influencer (fashion blogger).