We had the good fortune of connecting with JJ Collier and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi JJ, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
My work-life balance has evolved over time citing both real-world life factors and experience as well. I always lead with ‘the dream’, but I’ve also tried to be patient when I needed to be. Early in my career, I made lifestyle sacrifices in the name of career progression (eg. living in New York City to work for Ralph Lauren when I really wanted to be in the rockies). In doing that, I knew I was making an investment in my future and that having a solid resume -and a great experience at Polo- would get me closer to my goals. In the years since, I have made choices that I hoped would have a balance of work experience and life experience. Making living in Colorado a priority has lead to epic opportunities at Spyder and other brands. Today, I have built a Colorado business based on those earlier experiences, but with a focus on quality of life and paying it forward. I continue to create, experiment, and learn every day; loving collaborating with brands and also guiding designers and entrepreneurs toward success. That dedication and hard work makes my free time that much sweeter.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am a designer and thought leader in technical and lifestyle apparel. Having lead teams at Ralph Lauren, Spyder, Triple Aught Design, and VF Corp, my experience ranges from working with large wholesale brands to the more modern, direct-to-consumer brands of today. Driven by authentic experience for the end-user, my work combines highly-technical apparel design and development knowledge paired with classical good taste…and always a great story. I believe that my work is set apart from others in that I am a former professional athlete (snowboarding) and spent many years ‘living’ in technical garments. That end-user experience paired with self-taught sewing expertise and a core love of great design, styling and menswear gives me a unique perspective on the apparel market. And while not being formally trained was challenging in some ways, it also shaped my approach to design. I was not hindered by convention. If I believed something possible, I tried it. In many cases, those ideas lead to patents and later to rich product lines; garments that people were inspired to buy and loved to wear for many years. What I am most grateful now is the ability to give back. I was given great opportunities to “show my stuff” and I’ve been able to give that chance to many since. Both as a hiring manager and as a mentor, nothing gives me more joy that meeting someone who is hungry and talented and giving them a forum to perform. That is the best.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
It would be September in Colorado and I’d have two dual-sport motorcycles ready for us. We would take them north out of Boulder to Estes Park. We’d head down the peak-to-peak highway exploring gravel side roads along the way. Eventually, we’d end up back in Boulder for lunch at Alpine Modern. That would be a sweet introduction to the front range in my humble opinion.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My success starts with my parents. I have read books (Hill, Carnegie), listened to motivational speakers (Robbins), and been inspired by others (Ralph Lauren), but my upbringing wired me to believe in my dreams and to chase fulfillment over everything else. Directly and otherwise, my parents, John and Katherine Collier, allowed my siblings and me to follow our own path.