We caught up with Ilse Valfré, illustrator and clothing designer extraordinaire, and now we're totally inspired
We live in the age of a digital renaissance. We are the children of the internet, a generation of artistic expression. It is the era of social media where reblogging is the new word of mouth — and the word on everybody’s lips (both digitally and IRL) is Valfré. The art of Mexican native Ilse Valfré is an immaculate combination of sugar, spice, and your choice of vice. Valfré “dolls” exude attitude and rebellion while holding steadfastly on to their femininity and sass, proving that being a tough girl doesn’t mean you have to renounce the color pink. Not only has she achieved wild success as a young female entrepreneur, Ilse has reshaped the view of women in art with her raw portrayal of real girls blended with a touch of magical realism.
In the past couple of years, Valfré as a brand has jumped off the page and screen, expanding from a popular phone case line to a full-fledge clothing brand. Sure, we had phone cases before — they were a necessary step in protecting our link to the world! But it was Valfré cases that made the cell phone (or shell phone!) a fashion accessory for the first time since the hot pink Razr.
We caught up with Ilse to talk about guilty pleasures, what’s on her bucket list, and how she made the transition from illustrator to designing her own line.
HelloGiggles: You are an inspiration for a lot of young women. Who did you look up to growing up?
Ilse Valfré: Outside of my family, in school in Mexico you learn about Frida Kahlo and I became obsessed with her because she’s so raw and so real. I didn’t know I’d be an illustrator when I grew up, but she is definitely someone I looked up to as a person and as an artist. I think Frida Kahlo is my ultimate fave.
HG: She was definitely not only a great artist but a really strong woman as well.
IV: Yeah! She was way ahead of her time, especially with Mexico being such a Catholic country. She wasn’t afraid of being herself and that’s the thing that I really admire about her.
HG: Do you have any bucket list items you hope to tackle in the next couple of years, whether in your career or personal life?
IV: I would love to do film an animation. As far as products, I would love to step into jewelry! Hopefully in the near future.
HG: What inspires you to get up and work? Do you have a daily workflow?
IV: Before I was a mom, I would get up and check my emails and draw all day. Now my life is not like that! I get up and be with the kids then head to the office and make inspiration flow. I don’t really have a ritual that puts me in the mood. I just know I need to do it, but I love it.
HG: Do you have any current obsessions right now?
IV: Other than my baby? (laughs) Right now, I’m not going out and not traveling much, I’m just working on being a mom (which I love!). I live my life through reality TV, which I used to make fun of, but now I love it!
HG: Oh it’s totally a guilty pleasure! What has been your biggest challenge so far?
IV: Going from just a single gal to being a working mom. I want to be a mom that’s present. I want to be a good mom, but I want to be a good businesswoman, and I also want to be a good human and a good friend.
HG: It sounds like you have a good handle on things! Going from just illustrating to fashion design alone is a huge leap, how did you handle that transition?
IV: Ive always wanted to be a fashion designer. It came natural because I like drawing paper dolls and when we started the brand I wanted to create the garments that the characters were wearing. That was my first goal to do. My original business partner was amazing, but he had a different vision so we parted ways (very friendly, I love him to death!) and now my husband has stepped in and we do the apparel. It’s been a fun thing to do and is my favorite part of work right now!
HG: Do you have tips for other women that are unsure how to start their own business?
IV: I think now with the internet, it’s such a blessing. To start a business now is great because you used to have to open a shop on the street and hope for people to walk in and buy something from you. With the internet, you have a worldwide platform, so if you are not popular in your hometown you can be popular in somewhere like Japan! I think we are very blessed, this generation, to have that tool. Just go for it, don’t over think it because, when you think about the pros and cons, as humans we go for the cons which make us scared and insecure.
HG: Any hints as to what Valfré 2017 will bring?
IV: We have a very exciting collaboration with Crosely coming out early next year! We are (also) expanding our categories and adding more to the store!
HG: Any chance of a Valfré store here in LA?
IV: I think it would be nice to have a culture thing going on, like a community. Maybe next year!