What Essentiel Antwerp Wears: Barbara

Style What Essentiel Antwerp Wears: Barbara

22 November 2019

What Essentiel Antwerp Wears

Barbara Rizzo


If you follow us on Instagram, you already know that the Essentiel Antwerp offices are dipped in color. From the pink walls in our showroom to the fashion choices our staff makes.

To give you a better idea of #LifeAtEssentielAntwerp and the people that live it, we decided to give you a monthly look into the different jobs, fashion styles and personalities that walk around those pink walls.


For this month’s ‘What Essentiel Antwerp Wears’, Barbara Rizzo, our Operations Assistant in Production, shared some insights into what she herself calls a dream job.

“At my previous job, my boss would always tell me that I was allowed to show up in jeans and sneakers for work. [Laughs]. That just isn’t my style. I always dress up to go to work, it’s who I am, but here no one looks twice when you do!”




Before starting at Essentiel Antwerp, you were working in the chemical industry. Something entirely different, if we may so. What made you make the switch to fashion?

“I worked in the chemical industry for over nine years. It’s hard to say exactly when, but there was a moment that I realized I was actually in the wrong industry. I loved the job itself, I’m doing the same one now, but I felt no connection to the actual product. There was no variation, nothing pretty about it, nothing tangible. But it was a bit of a golden cage situation. At the beginning of 2015, we moved to Antwerp, and that’s when I started to question my daily commute, the fact that my kids were bigger… And I decided to take the leap and make the switch!”


Was there an immediate job opening at Essentiel Antwerp when you made the click for yourself to make the switch?

“No, first I mailed a spontaneous application. Then there was a job opening for something completely different than what I’m doing now, but I just thought ‘at least I’ll have a job at Essentiel Antwerp, and then they’ll notice what I can do’. [Laughs]. After that, they contacted me for the job I’m doing now, which turned out to be ideal because it was the same function as at my previous post.”


It’s been a while, but do you still remember how the interview for your job went?

“The first big question was: what will I wear. [Laughs]. I was completely second-guessing whether or not I should wear something from Essentiel Antwerp. If I turned up in head to toe Essentiel Antwerp, I might be perceived as an overexcited fan girl. I decided on a pair of grey tailored pants with a pink accent, a white shirt, and pink shoes. So the colorful Essentiel Antwerp DNA was there, without being a walking ad. [Laughs]. The interview itself was immediately very amicable. I was given a ton of information about the job itself, and I could feel my excitement rise. The job was exactly what I pictured and hoped it would be, so I was thrilled to be considered for it.”


Since then, you’ve been working here as an Operations Assistant in Production. How should we envision what you do?

“Broadly speaking, my manager and I need to make sure all the garments are being manufactured and delivered on time. We do that based on several numeric summaries related to the number of garments to produce, the meters of fabric, the quantity of accessories… We communicate all of our input to the suppliers so they can figure out the time slots to make sure everything is done on time. It’s pretty challenging due to the multinational influences we have with the different suppliers, but that’s what I love most. Each time we need to adapt the way we work and communicate because each supplier is different. After all this time, I have a pretty good picture of how they are handling things in different parts of the world.”




What do you love so much about working in fashion?

“I love coming to the office without knowing what new challenge the day will bring. But it’s also great to be so close to the design department. I get to see the development of all the new designs, which is a bit like living in a closet heaven. For my job, it’s also great to see the struggles and difficulties they face with some of the designs. That way, I can communicate even better with our manufacturers when they come across a hurdle for production.”


You always liked to dress up, but has your personal style changed in any way now that you work in fashion?

“No, not really, other than the fact that I have more options. [Laughs]. Sometimes that actually makes it harder to decide on what I’m going to wear. But it does give me a lot more room to play with different combinations. I don’t really have something that you would call a ‘personal style’. I wear what I like and what fits me. I do tend to wear more feminine pieces and heels, always heels.”


How do you decide what to wear each day?

“I always check the weather the evening before. I commute to work by bike, so weatherproof is a must. I’ll often stumble upon a cool outfit on Instagram, and this triggers a reminder for similar pieces that I have in my own closet. I’ll start from that piece and build my entire outfit from there. That piece can be a pair of shoes, but it can also be a sweater, a T-shirt or a pair of pants. By figuring it all out the night before, I don’t need to stress about it too much during my morning rush. [Laughs]. It does happen that what I have in mind turns out to be a disaster. In that case, I have to start from scratch again! [Laughs]. Luckily, that doesn’t happen every day.”




Do you hold the secret key to what makes an outfit great?

“No! [Laughs]. Just wear what you like, be confident in it, and that will radiate through. Just do your thing, no matter what people may think. A pair of high heels always helps, though!”


You’ve mentioned heels a few times now, would you suffer for fashion?

“Yes, I have to admit that I would, and my feet can confirm. Wearing the right pair of shoes just to finish off my look is sometimes more important than the comfort of it. But please note that I’m not a masochist! [Laughs]. I don’t make myself suffer all the time. When I was younger, I would sometimes buy shoes a size too big or too small, just because I had to have them, and that’s something I no longer do. But some of my shoes simply aren’t made for walking in, they’re made to go to a nice restaurant! [Laughs].”


What advice would you give to people who would want to work in fashion or at Essentiel Antwerp?

“Just go for it, it’s so much fun! But don’t apply for my job, because I love it here. [Laughs]. I had to turn 40 to make a career switch, and I can only say that I wish I would have done it sooner. Doing a job that fulfills you, a job where you love waking up and going to work, that’s the best job there is.”


Items worn by Barbara


Off-white oversized teddy coat

Black ruffled lace belted dress with sequins

Light blue cotton-blend belted wide-leg pants

Black croc-effect leather shoulder bag


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