Jillian Wheeler | Sonix
Jillian Wheeler is Designer and Creative Director for Sonix, a fashion accessory design-house based outside Los Angeles. Jillian designs and art directs the embodiment of the Sonix brand. With her quirky yet refined sense of style, she creates statement accessories, such as cell phone cases, sunglasses and leather pouches, for the ‘every’ girl. Sonix has recently received notoriety among celebs like Gigi Hadid, Kylie Jenner, Emma Stone and Lucy Hale to name a few.
Tell us about the path that led you to where you are today.
I have always been creative and interested in fashion. I just didn’t know how that would fit into my career path. Both of my parents had a business background so naturally I studied business marketing in college. Feeling unfulfilled while completing my degree, I started a side business through Etsy designing floral hair accessories. It was a creative outlet for me at the time, but I was also earning a decent college living from the business. I think that’s when I realized that I wanted to find a career that was creatively hands-on.
After college in 2011, my brother-in-law got me a job at Sonix. At the time, it was a tech company of 5 employees making black snap cases and earphones for men. I felt like there was a gap in the tech market for women so I presented the idea of making fashion prints on our cases. About 5 months later Apple picked up two of my designs for in store. That was the breakthrough moment where I felt like I had something to bring to the table. Five years later, we are a completely different company than when I started. We’re now a women’s fashion brand. I always joke around with our owner that he had no idea what he was in for when he hired me.
Your online shop is inspired. How do you cultivate your creativity? How do you push yourself to think outside the box and stay fresh?
I get this question a lot, and I never know how to answer it because I think I’m inspired by everything; runway, fashion editorials, social media, street style. I’d say street style is my main inspiration. I’m inspired by textiles that real girls wear and relate to. I’m into designing novelty prints that create a feeling and directly relate to a customer’s personality.
When working, do you create with a customer in mind? Or stick to what you like?
I would say I do both. I’m not going to lie, one of the perks of my job is being able to create cute accessories for myself. As a designer, it’s easy to fall into the habit of creating things for yourself rather than the consumer. One thing I’ve learned from working with retail buyers is how to segment designs for different girls. That being said, I always have a specific personality in mind before I start designing. I feel like that’s what sets Sonix accessories apart from others; we cater to a variety of personalities.
What practical business advice would you give to women who are just getting started in this field?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is you can’t do it all on your own. It’s okay to ask for help. I’m a slight control freak, so it was hard for me to give up some control and let others in. At the end of the day you can accomplish so much more as a team.
Your weekend outfit?
Skinny jeans, flats, leather jacket, chunky knit sweater, and my Sonix sunnies – I have these really cute tortoise cat eye frames coming out in June with tinted pink lenses. These are going to be my go-to sunnies for summer!
Coffee or tea?
I can’t live without my daily iced tea with lemon and a packet of Splenda. Ask anyone. I drink it like water – it’s so bad.
You can find Jillian Wheeler on Instagram.