While her time at Williston Northampton School was short, just one year, the experience continues to be an important one for Imke Hille ’02. Now a model with an eye on creating a niche brand of lingerie—a brand focused on design, materials, and sustainability—Ms. Hille reflects on her career, how it evolved from a childhood interest, and the impact a year abroad had on her.
How did you get interested in fashion design and what formal training did you have?
I was always interested in fashion. When I was about seven years old I used to draw little collections, or do collages where I glued fabrics on the women I drew. When I studied fashion at ESMOD (International University of Art for Fashion in Berlin) we actually did those too and called them “volume collages.” By the age of 12 I used to design dresses for my Barbie dolls out of my mom’s old stockings. I still have pictures of that.
What inspired you to start your own company?
Being able to realize my very own style.
In my second year of studying fashion design I was really starting to doubt the whole fashion thing. Than I got the assignment for a project on “Chantal Thomass,” one of the most famous lingerie designers. I instantly fell in love with lingerie. The fabrics, the details; it is all tiny and pretty and neat. I have concentrated on lingerie ever since and did my diploma in lingerie as well.
How do you hope clients feel when they wear your designs?
The whole aspect of my creations is feeling good about yourself. The fabrics are the softest, the cut is loose and cozy. I produce my products only in Europe under fair conditions.
Where do you see your company five or 10 years from now and what will success look like to you?
I hope November Lingerie will be a stable and well-positioned brand. Since November is a rather niche product brand and not a mass product, maximum growth is not the main goal here.
As an owner, designer and businesswoman, how do you balance your professional and personal lives?
My personal life is very important to me. Luckily I am able to work a lot with my friends. They work in advertising, are photographers, art directors, etc. I am surrounded by a really creative environment, which inspires me and which I benefit from. So working is often connected with friends and fun.
Did your one year at Williston Northampton have any impact on your work today?
Yes, absolutely, I think it had a great impact on who I am today. Being away from home the first time over a longer period of time, meeting new people, learning a different language, was one of the most important experiences growing up.
Do you still keep in touch with friends from Williston Northampton?
Yes, unfortunately not so much with the Americans classmates though. But the friendship I made with the other German girls is very unique. We still are very close. It is a certain kind of friendship. It was only that year that we ever lived in same place. Just that short period, but still they really are some of my closest and most valuable friends. We talk a lot and see each other quite often actually!
What is your favorite memory from your year at Williston?
I really liked the friendly atmosphere, it was really good, hearty, open. At the games, in the dining hall, the Stu-Bop, in the common rooms, the classrooms. It was great fun.