Her style icon (David Bowie!), the one article of clothing she can’t live without, and the *real talk* life advice she’d give to her middle school self.
If you ask Brianne Wilson to describe what she does at Revelle as Head of Product, she’ll talk about it in the context of “the what” and “the why:” what are we building next, for which users, and why are we taking the product in that direction.
“Product is essentially the linkage between the business, the users, and the technology,” she explains.
With over a decade of experience at the likes of Guardian Direct and ADP — not to mention a masters in Computer Information Systems — you’d think this NYC-based product guru was always, well, in product.
But get this: she’s actually a classically-trained actor who studied at both NYU and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and “only ever dreamed of performing Shakespeare.”
Other fun facts? Brianne is currently training for the 2022 NYC marathon, is a proud pup mamma, has lived in seven cities across six states and two countries (including NYC, London, Chicago, Charleston, and Dallas), and is obsessed with planning out travel itineraries.
We sat down with Brianne to chat about her style icon (David Bowie!), the one article of clothing she can’t live without, and the *real talk* life advice she’d give to her middle school self.
If you had to describe your current style, and you only had the length of a Tweet to do it, what would you say?
Classic styles with a slight edge — and always keep ’em guessing! Jeans and a crew neck one day, pencil skirt and blouse the next, then leather pants and a David Bowie crop top the day after that!
Who’s your style icon?
David Bowie. Not any look in particular, but his approach and sense of doing whatever he felt like. He was always changing his look, never afraid to be bold and “out there,” had amazing elegance, and defied gender stereotypes and expectations. I have always hated being put into a single category. The minute I feel like someone “defines” me, I will immediately — ahem, stubbornly — do something to challenge that label (within reason). I always want to defy expectations and try new things and sides of my personality, and Bowie sets that standard.
One piece of clothing you can’t live without?
I have an olive green faux suede jacket I bought back in high school in 2000 (not to date myself) that is missing two buttons and its original belt, and I will never part with it. It’s the perfect fall jacket, even 21 years later, though I should probably find some new buttons. Runner up: chunky, off-the-shoulder oversized sweater that makes me feel both sexy and cozy and can be worn with jeans, leggings, leather pants, pajama pants…you name it!
What’s one fleeting fashion trend from childhood that you *regret* embracing? (no judgment)
I went to high school in the early 2000s and embraced nearly every trend we associate with that time, and some I can only facepalm at — the handkerchief shirts and suuuuuuper low-rise jeans (with laces!) come immediately to mind. We really did dress like we thought we’d be living in space and have flying cars by then. I went through a phase where I definitely wore those striped arm sleeves with a punk band t-shirt and a loose tie over it (think Avril Lavigne). Plus some beauty trends I regret: super thin eyebrows, pastel eyeshadows, and a very messy, short hair cut spiked out with tons of product à la the MTV VJ Jesse Camp (plus dyed many colors!).
Take us through your style evolution!
In the 6th grade, you were either a Skater or a Prep and a “uniform” came with both. If you were a Prep you wore Adidas (especially those sandals) and maybe Tommy Hilfiger…that kind of style. If you were a Skater, you wore baggy JNCO jeans, Vans shoes, band t-shirts, and a Jansport backpack complete with band names written in whiteout on it (especially Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails). I often went with the latter but just stole my brother’s pants and shirts to make it happen. I moved to South Carolina in the 7th grade, and in that year the 70s fashion trends came back: plaid bell bottoms and paisley shirts included. During high school, as I mentioned, I played with all of the styles and trends. Even went preppy as I was obsessed with thinking I was Joey Potter on Dawson’s Creek. I moved to NYC for college, and my style definitely evolved more during that time. The great thing about NYC is that the only real trend is confidence and expressing yourself. Every style and trend can be seen across town, and if you wear what you want with confidence, people are bound to think it’s “cool.” As I’ve gotten older, I have gotten more into sticking to the classics and keeping any trendy thing I like since it’ll always come back into fashion!
If you could go back in time and tell your middle school self something, what would it be?
Stop over-plucking your eyebrows! I know super thin is the trend right now but those “Groucho Marx eyebrows” you get teased about will come back into fashion. And they won’t grow fully back when they do!
But in more seriousness…I’d really tell her to not worry so much about what other people think and never lose sight of who you are and what you believe in. Your worth is not based on your weight or looks or if you have a boyfriend. And everyone else is just as worried about failing/looking dumb/what you think of them, so they’re not judging you as much you think! Be the architect of your own happiness. Do what you love, have adventures, see the world, and keep only those things and people that enhance your life.
Where do you hope the retail world will be in 5-10 years? What do you desperately want to change? How will it look different?
I hope marketing for retail continues its trend toward inclusivity and body positivity. Retail has a history of leveraging diet culture with the size deflations of the 1990s, making the size labels a smaller number than they would have been decades ago because women are more likely to purchase when they can fit into a smaller size. This is inherently non-inclusionary because the underlying thought behind this is that there is more value in the “smaller” number. They want to make money off of the insecurities we’ve been programmed to shoulder. What I think we’re seeing now, and want to see more of, is flipping all of that on its head to meet people where they are. Negging no longer works! Not in dating, not in marketing! Every body and shape and type is beautiful and fashionable, every body type can wear the trends. Continue with un-retouched images. More diversity: body type, race, gender, age, ability, culture, and more. I’m loving the lingerie brands who advertise with models who are not cisgendered women. More of that please!
What is it about Revelle that energizes you when you get out of bed in the morning?
I’ve been working in technology for over ten years, most of it in product management. When I was first starting out I was often the only woman in the room, sometimes in the company! I’m so energized to come into an office full of incredibly talented and motivated women each day. Moreover, it’s important to me to develop products that genuinely help people and do good in the world. I haven’t always had that opportunity in every industry I’ve worked in. Revelle has a mission to help women and to do so in an area I know I’m far from alone in having a personal connection with. To have a job that aligns with my core values as a human is a once in a lifetime opportunity!
Questions for Brianne? Find her on Instagram @brianneleawilson or comment below!
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