Where there’s a Will, there’s a way
Lindsay Cornell, an LA based creative director and brand developer who Vogue described as a trailblazer in her industry, got her start in fashion working for Sydney brand Ksubi. The University of Technology Sydney marketing graduate had a thirst for more, so she packed her only two suitcases and went to New York six years ago – the rest is history in the making.
The 29-year-old Aussie go-getter forged a working relationship with The Black Eyed Peas founding member Will.i.am [that’s William James Adam Jr. to his mother] and is changing the way you interact with your favourite fashion brand from an office space in Los Angeles.
She landed her first job as a communications specialist for Tom Ford and while doing that, met Will.i.am via her former employee in Australia – co-founder of Ksubi George Gorrow. It was a mixture of being in the right place at the right time, keeping your little black book of connections close and being unafraid to let others know you’re in the business of looking for work.
“I was 23 and ready to take the leap of faith and jump into the unknown,” says Lindsay Cornell.
“I thought if I don’t do it now, I may never do it,” she adds.
Cornell first met Will.i.am via a sustainable fashion partnership he formed with Coca-Cola. She came on board via Gorrow and helped him find designers who would remake fashion by recycling old Cola plastic bottles. “Will offered me a job as a project manager in LA before we even formerly met,” says Cornell.
The American rapper and philanthropist hit the jackpot with Cornell and she continues to work closely with him on various projects, even brand developing a line of eyewear for him.
“He told me I had a good understanding of popular culture and wanted me to work with him on his tech start-up and help with product placement,” she says of a 2014 conversation.
A year later, she hooked him up with luxury fashion house Gucci to collaborate on a smart band. It debuted at Baselworld in Switzerland in 2015. The wearable technology put the entrepreneur squarely in the lap of the luxury fashion house and the i.am+’s wearable device was worn on the runway for Gucci’s Cruise 17 show.
“Will has been my biggest inspiration and reminds me that everything is possible,” she says.
Cornell, who is a guest speaker at this year’s Forefront 18 alongside co-curator Margaret Zhang, says understanding your brand and knowing how to tell your story is the key to future success.
She’s all for limited edition capsules, pop-ups, concept stores and brands who tap into a niche rather than try to be all things to all people.
“Gone are the days of words like wholesale, advertising and PR specialist,” says Cornell.
“They will exist in some form, but what the world needs are problem solvers and those who have experience from a lot of different industries. It’s those out of the box solutions that companies and brands need and are seeking. Forefront 18 is bringing people who are likeminded together for a meeting of minds and ideas,” she adds.
Cornell raves about Ian Rogers too – the former Apple Music Director who is now the Head of Digital at luxury fashion empire LVMH. She empathises with his views that digital is more than an ‘us versus them’ scenario.
“Digital is everywhere now and it’s a way of life. It’s not something you can choose to opt in and out of, it’s all encompassing,” she says.
“When I heard Ian speak at a conference, he told the crowd even his title as Head of Digital is pointless because the Internet is everywhere. We are living in a hyper connected space,” explains Cornell.
She says a brand should focus on its philosophy and how their product adds value to the market rather than flood it.
“A brand or company will win based on what they stand for, not what they think people will like them for,” reasons Cornell.
“We may not have Mad Men style ads around anymore, but the idea of dictating to a consumer is long gone. Now it’s more about brands that are themselves – this is what they call the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution.”
The inaugural Forefront 18 summit will see 15 speakers from across the globe speak to an intimate audience of only 300 at the Four Seasons Hotel on George Street on July 19.
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