Scion Sayang Ropp has stepped into the Paul Ropp fashion empire. Tony Stanton spoke to her about her hopes and dreams. Portraits: Saskia Koerner. Styling: MaiKhanh Bertrand. Hair/Make up: Rosario, Balistarz.
Now then Miss Ropp, can you tell us how and where you grew up and who were your inspirations?
A third cultured kid like me knows that the “where did you grow up” question is a tough one. But, in a nutshell, I was born and raised in Bali from an Italian mother and a New York father. I was privileged to have been able to further grow up in boarding schools in places such as India and Switzerland; then later on to places such as Rome and British Columbia. The diversity of culture I have experienced has definitely been a point of inspiration for me. However, my two biggest inspirations are my parents, by far. Seeing the lives they have been able to create for themselves, their determination, perseverance, their wisdom and their compassion has helped define the woman I strive to be. I couldn’t have asked for better role models.
What do you do precisely at PR, and what’s your future there?
I came to join the company in the capacity of Operations Manager. The scope of my job revolves around administrative functions and implementing strategic systems. Although I am slowly trying to add a new flare to the company from a different perspective than it has previously received. I think that in this technological age we are living in, having a fresh set of eyes looking at things in a different, and sometimes opposing, light can truly be an asset. I definitely don’t want to change what isn’t broken, but I do believe we have the potential to become so much more as a company. I believe, should I prove myself worthy, that one day I would be able to take a position which would allow my hard working father to finally be able to live in retirement the way he truly deserves. I came here to help, and that’s my main focus for both now and for the future. I hope to be able to ensure a prosperous future for my father’s legacy that isn’t limited by temporal concepts such as age, or social dynamics.
What’s it been like stepping into father’s famous shoes?
This has definitely been a challenge as they are incredibly large shoes. However, I hope more than anything that when the time comes I will be able to wear them and make him proud. He has done incredibly well, all on his own. The last thing I would want is to put on his shoes before the time is right. But it is quite a view from where I am standing. As my father says, my whole academic life my parents have paid for me to go to “school”, but this is where the real schooling starts.
What’s the most important part of your day?
Any time I get to eat is a pretty important part of my day as food is my favourite activity! On a more serious note, the parts of my day that are most vital are when I encounter a situation where I can provide a solution for efficiency or progress. I really like seeing the outcome of things I am able make a change in, or improve. Finding obstacles and a great way to overcome them is a pretty important thing in general, and it helps me improve my strategic thinking.
Do you want to take the brand into new directions and new markets, or will it always be clothing for people who prefer to be naked?
The most identifiable aspect of the brand is the fabrics we use. There is nothing out there like it and my father has an uncanny knack for finding the most beautiful textiles and creating the perfect clothes for people who prefer to be naked. So, I would never want to take that away. However, I am interested in creating an avenue for the brand that lends itself to certain missing demographics. I believe that there are so many people out there who would, given the chance, become Paul Ropp enthusiasts. Unfortunately, I believe these demographics are sheltered to their possibilities for several different reasons. One of my main hopes for the future is to bridge the gap and find a way to create a product that is steadfast with the Paul Ropp vision, but more easily translatable towards demographics who may not yet get it.
We’re all so familiar with the brand but can you just let us know how it started and from where it takes inspiration?
The brand started with my father himself – in his childhood, his adolescence, through times of hardship, and happiness. This brand IS my father, and that is what makes it so hard to step into his shoes. The brand is everything my father stands for, in his business life as well in his personal life. Through his trials and tribulations of growing up, to his successes and elations of creating his own path – the brand represents it all. It is a statement, a philosophy, a culture, and a lifestyle choice. Paul Ropp, the brand, represents and exudes a derived confidence and acceptance of self; it provokes reactions and turns heads; it stands out in a room filled with people. Just like Paul Ropp, the person. I think this is the focus of his inspiration: every place he has been, every high, every low, every hurdle he has overcome and every success he has celebrated. His inspiration is the world around him and how it has influenced his perceptions.
How will you keep the company relevant for today’s internet generation?
I am currently on a mission to better establish and enhance our online presence. I think that the field of digital marketing is one that is ever changing, and will never stay stagnant for any moment in time. I think it is most vital to link ourselves to this powerful and fast driving train if we wish to prosper in times to come. I think any company, in any industry, needs to understand how the times are changing and whether they want to sit back and watch, be a part of the trend, or completely shatter what is expected and create new avenues for future growth and opportunities. I want to see this company break boundaries and defy expectations in the internet generation in the same way it has done in our current successful generations up to the point we are now. As a company, I think it’s imperative we evolve with our consumers, adjacent with the times we live in; becoming stagnant in a time of such economic and cultural flux would render us on the side lines – which is not a place I want to be. I’d rather see us spearheading trends, customs and generational cultures in the future the way the Paul Ropp brand has been a noted trailblazer in the past.
Where do you see PR the brand in 10 years?
Hmm. I would like to see this company as a completely self-serving mechanism that is constantly evolving, with highly efficient feed back loops, people who believe in what they are doing, and who love what they do as much their founder did. I’d like to see the company only filled with people who believe in its vision, and strive to reinforce it; of course, while standing strong on the foundation my father has built. What this brand represents is our most powerful tool, I would like to see that translated into the leading cultures of society. We are far more than just another fashion label and I hope to see that education widespread. Given the fast pace our times are changing, I don’t know what this would look like externally, I only know what I could hope for in terms of the internal mechanism that is this machine of the Paul Ropp franchise.
Is there a perfect PR customer?
The perfect Paul Ropp customer is someone who is comfortable in their own skin. They are someone who knows what they want and goes for it regardless of trends, hearsay, social pressures or expectations. Someone who would rather spend their time feeling the breeze in their hair and the sun on their cheeks than listening to the click clack sound of a keyboard under their fingers or a recurrent pay check in their pocket. I think that absolutely anyone could be the perfect Paul Ropp customer if we they are able to break free from their self inflicted shackles that they blame on external sources. To me, Paul Ropp = freedom.
Is there one thing that your father told you as a youngster that has stuck in your brain, or guided you in troubled times?
Is there one? There are plenty! My dad is my source of witty and wise mantras that play in my head on repeat like a pleasantly broken record. “I can, it’s done, what’s next”. “Better today than yesterday, better tomorrow than today, better and better in every way”. “Resolve and Dissolve”. And the list goes on and on and on. The question is how often I allow myself to zip the annoying little voice in my head and just agree and follow his wisdom. I wish it were more often than I could ever admit.
If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t doing this I would be trying to get my Permanent Residency in British Columbia, trying to create a life for myself that wasn’t in the shadow of either of my parents. However, it also would mean that I would never have taken the step that really allowed me to reconnect with my family, to help my father, and to grow my own wings and drive my own path by his side. However, one day, I would like to go back to school to do a Masters in something that has nothing to do with fashion – like criminal justice, forensic psychology, or a mix of the both.
Ok. Money or art?
Definitely art. I wish money never existed. Although, money can give me the life I want, art is so much more important. Life is art, and physical, emotional, and impermanent art is all around us we just have to choose to see it. Plus, dance was my first passion and when I was pursuing dance in Switzerland, it was another time I was ecstatically happy. Art is emotional, and it speaks to levels of consciousness far beyond monetary influence.
Rebel or conformist?
Rebel! Without a doubt, and without a cause 🙂 I’m basically an anti-conformist.
Married or single?
Single. I think “marriage” is a piece of paper. Having a partner is far more important and valuable. This partner can be either platonic or romantic, but it’s having someone you can count on no matter what – isn’t that what a marriage is?
How would you like all your tomorrows to be?
I would like my tomorrows to be different each and every day because routine would be the death of me. I would like some to be better than others, because we would not know happiness without sadness, or success without struggle, or advantage without adversity. I want all my tomorrows to be a surprise and to, in the long run, bring fulfilment, diversity, and spontaneity to myself and those I love. Cheesy I know 🙂 Furthermore, I would also like to see our COLLECTIVE tomorrows be led by our humanity rather than our individual greed or personal satisfaction. I’d like our collective tomorrows to be one that is less driven by fear than the one I expect to see in continuing with the current path we are on. I’d like to see a changed society, for the betterment of all, not a few.