The Influence

Ulla Johnson

Brooklyn dwelling mum of three and designer Ulla Johnson triumphs in looks that circle the prim and the footloose and in the current swell of boho, she’s riding high. Harriet Quick taps into Ulla’s wanderlust world, that Aviva dress plus lockets and lavender.

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Onsen, Japan

@ullajohnson // Instagram

What’s going through your design mind right now? And how do you percolate ideas and impressions into your collections?

I have a very roving eye, so I think there’s always an aggregate of inspirations; both physical and metaphysical. My family and I just recently returned from a trip to Japan that was endlessly inspiring.

Travel and nature are always top of mind, and optimism and wanderlust are two things I always try to evoke through my designs.

Looking back at your brand trajectory from 1998 onwards what have been the big lessons as a founder and what keeps you propelling you forward?

I quickly realized the power of having your own point of view. I really started this brand from the heart, making things for myself and my friends back in the late 90s – to a certain extent that remains albeit in a bigger way.

In a very busy fashion world with a gazillion of choices, what is it about Ulla Johnson that keeps women coming back?

A sense of ease. As women we all wear many hats and I think appreciate an effortless approach to dressing. At the heart of all my designs has always been to make women feel beautiful and powerful, but unfettered, while also introducing an element of fantasy. A lot of consideration comes through wearing and understanding what it means to live in a garment and not just design one.

On that note, what’s on rote in your summer wardrobe?

A floor-sweeping dress, sandals, and a deep tan is my forever go-to Summer look. Currently I am obsessed with our Aviva dress from the Pre-Fall collection. It’s quite weightless and has hand-crochet appliqué across the bodice – I tend to always come back to the pieces touched by hand.

Ulla in the Aviva Dress

@ullajohnson// Instagram

Wearing a wrapped FoundRae necklace

@ullajohnson // Instagram

You run stores in West Hollywood, Amagansett, and New York and teams globally - what is your golden rule in leadership?

I think kindness is the most important, in everything.

How do you switch off and what are your daily rituals to keep you sane?

Exercise helps. And always the outdoors. I’ll always choose to be outside! Being in nature for even just a quiet moment of meditation and reflection can be incredibly grounding and uplifting.

The piece of jewellery that means the most?

A bloodstone locket my husband (Zach Miner, art consultant) gave me soon after the birth of our third child. Agnes. Inside, it opens to a threefold, which is unusual as most lockets open to twofold only. My three kiddies infant pictures are inside, and it fills me with joy.

A scent with the most memories?

As a child, every summer I used to travel to Croatia, where there are lavender fields, and all the markets sell lavender oil, which I still use every night before bed. Memories of the Adriatic in July and August with its lavender scented breezes will forever be dear to my heart.

A wellness ritual that you swear by?

Spending time outdoors. For many years I have developed a contemplative practice rooted in walking and hiking. Being in nature and on the trail in any and all environments, moving my body and allowing space for my thoughts to weave between and amongst the flora is when I feel the most clear headed, grounded, and uplifted.

Ulla at her Los Angeles store

@ullajohnson // Instagram

Ulla entertaining at home in Montauk

@ullajohnson // Instagram

Let’s talk about Montauk and your second home.

Initially I was drawn to the great sense of openness that exists in Montauk – the sky, the sea, the surf, the wildness of being at the very tip of Long Island. It’s become a relaxing oasis from the city for our family.


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