Entrepreneurship

A Conversation with Alicia Koo

By
Bibiana Obahor
November 14, 2023
Alicia Koo, the driving force behind The Daily Atelier, reveals the secrets to her success in branding and creative direction. From the value of authenticity and innovation to the art of building a brand community, Alicia's journey is a fascinating exploration of the entrepreneurial spirit...

As we navigate this conversation with Alicia, it's clear that she embodies the spirit of innovation and leaves us with a profound message: "To build a brand that truly excites and inspires, it must come from a place of true leadership."

The Beauty of Deep Connections

The best part of my job is the deep connections I build with people worldwide who share my values of innovation, intention, and connection. Taking the road less travelled as an entrepreneur can often feel quite lonely, but when you have such a thoughtful and diverse community, you’re never truly on your own. Over the past few years, I've had the privilege of meeting colleagues and clients who continue to inspire me. There's nothing quite like the depth of conversation and the spark in their eyes when they share their biggest dreams and ambitions.

Valuable Career Lesson

The most valuable lesson I've learned from my career is that articulating and demonstrating your values and opinions is key to success. While we often preach about standing out in branding, we don't discuss enough how to achieve it. It's not just about creating stunning visuals; it starts with a strong perspective and using visuals to support it. Being brave on your own terms and developing a unique voice and message is where it all begins.

Bold Career Risk

A recent risk I took was introducing my 'Logoless Branding' service. Like all new ideas, it demanded a significant investment in research and development before launch. With such a controversial approach, it could have resulted in a flop, but I'm grateful to have brought the idea to life despite the uncertainty. It's a testament to being clear in your industry opinions and backing that up with bold action.

Rewarding Projects

Can I say all of them? If I had to choose, my recent involvement with the opening of a pop-up café in Toronto is unforgettable. Witnessing the vision come to life on Queen Street was a dream. Credit goes to Kirsty Fan for her creative vision and PR prowess; co-creating with someone as dedicated as her is a true privilege.

Designing Dreamscapes

I'd love to work on projects involving physical spaces that focus on the customer experience. Designing immersive and tactile experiences is a wonderful challenge. Collaborating with interior designers and florists would be an absolute treat. My dream projects would likely involve restaurant/café concepts or lifestyle-focused retail experiences—just imagine the menus, tablescapes, displays, packaging, and more!

Three-Word Style

Minimal, timeless, and balanced. It's a blend of the feminine and masculine, structured and laidback. My go-to is usually an oversized blazer with denim or tailored trousers with a sweater for a polished yet relaxed feel.

Minimal, timeless, and balanced.

Adapting Style

I maintain a capsule closet for mixing and matching casual pieces with more formal ones. I look for subtle textures and materials to add interest. It's about incorporating appropriate accessories and the right shoe for the occasion.

Aligning with Personal Brand

I start with neutrals, matching my brand palette for core closet pieces—creams, blacks, and whites. Then, I mix in bold statement pieces. This approach preserves my brand essence while allowing room for experimentation and growth.

Confidence, Personal Style, and Branding

It's cyclical! Experimenting with style builds self-understanding, which boosts confidence, refines personal taste, deepens self-understanding, and so on. It's like building a brand—developing and refining visual language and preferences to communicate who you are to the world.

Creativity Beyond Work

For me, creativity is about exploration and creation without expectations. I encourage exposure to new ideas and experiences, thinking outside the box, or doing things you wouldn't normally do. It involves experimenting with design techniques, seeking diverse perspectives, and travelling to see the world with fresh eyes.

Building a Brand Community

It's about leading and serving, just like building an in-person community. Be intentional about creating the right space and leading meaningful conversations that attract like-minded individuals. It's not about follower counts; it's about fostering meaningful relationships and a values-based culture.

Inspirations

I am inspired by the voices of industry leaders. Design and business don't happen in isolation. Some designers and creative directors I admire include Lotta Nieminen, Phoebe Glasfurd, Helen Anna, and Talia Cotton. They inspire me to hone in on a signature look and point of view just as powerful.

Ahead of Trends

I take a broad view of what works and doesn't in the industry. Formulating my own opinions, I create new products or services to address gaps rather than iterating on broken ideas. Following trends isn't effective; learn from them and incorporate insights to set your own trends.

Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Build a strong foundation rooted in your own perspective or vision. Avoid emulating what works for others; it may lead to a functional business but won't create an exciting brand that inspires community loyalty because it lacks true leadership.

Inspiring Change

I aim to inspire a cultural shift in effective branding, setting a higher standard for the depth and impact brands should have. It's about evolving beyond the logo-first approach that early-stage brand owners often adopt.

Follow Alicia's business page on Instagram.

Visit Thedaileyatelier.co

Photography by Sammie Chan

SUBSCRIBE

The ultimate guide for the modern brand owner, delivered straight to your inbox.
Thank you for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Share button
linkedinpinterestmail