What I Know About Style

Billie Jacobina and Josiah Carter

November
14

We caught up with Billie Jacobina & Below Deck's Josiah Carter, founders of House of XOXO

Hi Josiah & Billie, together you’re the founders of ethical loungewear brand, House of XOXO! Can you tell us what your inspiration for the brand was and how it came about?

Josiah:

For me, the inspiration had a lot to do with travelling and being stylish yet comfortable while doing so. I used to travel a lot with my old job and we both travel a bit now, I never really wanted to travel in comfy clothes because for me they felt too casual so I wanted to create something that was comfy and cosy but also stylish.

I was always looking for the perfect travel outfit and the nags to go with it, but everything I saw was either out of my price range or the quality wasn’t great, so that’s why we decided to create our own brand. This combined with Billie’s degree in fashion made it a no-brainer to do something together (we’d always wanted to), plus we get to chat on the phone all day (sometimes about work) and call it work, so it’s a win-win for both of us.

The Ethical side of things was a big part for me because we’re in a world now where we all need to try and do our bit for the environment. We can’t change the whole world with one brand but we really want to try and do as much as we can by using ethical cotton, biodegradable packing and organic materials.

We’ve made clothes that are of amazing quality and will last, and we’ve done it at a price that we feel is really good. Both Billie and myself didn’t want to create throw-away clothing, we truly stand by our saying, “Buy once, Wear forever”.

Billie:

We have been friends for years and have both supported each other’s careers! During lockdown, I decided to make our friendship group some hoodies with ‘XOXO’ on them as this is our group chat name! I don’t think we’ve ever messaged so much during that time. Josiah then posted him in his hoodie on Instagram and he had a load of messages asking where he could get one! It was a natural thing for us to do.

We both find inspiration in our day-to-day life and think of things that can make life easier. This is why we have gone down the travel route, we have so many ideas of pieces that can make travelling more enjoyable and smoother.

What does XOXO mean?

Josiah:

Like the TV show Gossip Girl, we would sign off our texts with XOXO, which most people know is hugs and kisses. We did try a few other names for the brand but both kept coming back to XOXO. It felt right and we really wanted to have a positive spin on everything – so by using XOXO at the end of our emails, messages and Instagram posts, it gives the world a bit more positivity.

Billie:

We LOVE Gossip Girl and this is where it stemmed from – if you haven’t seen Gossip Girl she signs off every episode with XOXO. We use it every day to sign off our messages to each other. When we were thinking of brand names, it just stuck and we love the fact it’s a symbol known worldwide! It links really well with the travel element of our brand, as saying bye to people you can sign off with an XOXO!

And your AW collection is inspired by your love of travelling and cocktails. Tell us more!

Josiah:

Who doesn’t love a good cocktail?! I am a Qualified butler and mixologist, and when Billie and I were thinking of names for our collections, we noticed that they look like a mojito or a pina colada (and our new Black Martini Collection). The lightbulb moment happened and we knew that they had to be named after our favourite cocktails.

Travelling has always been a big part of both of our lives and I think, post covid, everyone has got the travel bug again. We always think of our outfits for when we’re on holiday, but the holiday starts at the airport so we wanted to make sure no matter where or when your travelling we have your airport outfit sorted. Whether it’s a cute Instagram pic for the start of your holiday or you just want to put your sunglasses on and your hood up to avoid holiday blues, our XOXO outfits have you covered.

As well as outfits we want to be there for the essentials when travelling. Our Weekender bags are always such a big hit because they’re the perfect size for a few nights away, a quick city break or an evening travelling home to see the family. Now that tote season is upon us we always have a classic tote because you can never have enough and we use ours so much we wanted to make them available for everyone else. Those are just a few of the many bags we have online that will literally suit every need for your travels.

Billie:

Since starting XOXO we decided that we wanted to become a go-to travel brand. When you have a trip coming up, we want to be the brand you think of for all your travel needs, from your airport outfit to your wash bag. Josiah is famous for his amazing cocktails (believe me they are INCREDIBLE!) so the colours we chose for our AW collection were inspired by our favourite cocktails, Mojitos & Pina Coladas, and we may have another colour coming soon!

Josiah, your passion for travel is well known, as you were a well-loved cast member of the hit reality TV show, Below Deck! Do you still travel as much as you once did?

I honestly think I travel through airports more now that I have left the show and yachting industry. I was always on a yacht for weeks/months at a time, so would only properly travel every few months. Since I started travelling more regularly, especially between the UK and Mallorca, I was in desperate need of some new airport outfits and useful bags to take along with me. I couldn’t find them anywhere so everything was pointing to creating our brand.

And we have to ask… if you were offered the chance to go on the show for the first time today, would you?

Ahhh yes I would go back on again, I really enjoyed my time on Below Deck, and I met some amazing people. Plus I got to go to Tahiti which was just incredible. If only I had a cute outfit for the extremely long trip it took to get there!

Billie, how does this brand differ from your usual print and textiles work?

XOXO is completely different from anything I have worked on before! My collections before have been heavily printed and in bold colours. Where XOXO is the opposite of this, we are more about colours you can wear every day with tonal prints and embroidery. I’ve enjoyed working on XOXO as it is out of my comfort zone and I am finding other techniques and processes that I wouldn’t have used before.

What are your favourite pieces in the new collection?

Josiah:

I literally ask myself this on a daily, mainly because it changes. I will probably have to say hoodies or weekender. I will literally wear my hoodies all the time, while it’s in the wash it is really hard not to run downstairs and open another one just because I literally wear them all the time. I use the Weekender all the time as well, When I’m driving to see Billie or down to my parents it’s the perfect size to just throw in the car.

Billie:

Mine has to be our joggers. I cannot choose a favourite colour as I wear them both equally. I live in the joggers; they are perfect for running errands during the week as well as travelling. The main thing is they are super comfy and easy to style!

Sustainability is important to the brand! Has learning about sustainability impacted the way you shop?

Josiah:

It has definitely impacted the way that I look at clothes and the way that I shop now and it’s been a great learning curve for me to understand how sustainable we can be. I think we should all try and think about what’s important and being sustainable should be one of them. We are always trying to look at ways we can be more sustainable and what materials we can use to help the planet, but I feel like if were conscious of it we will make a difference and everyone can do their bit, even by shopping local and supporting small business will help massively, plus it makes your feel better so it’s silly not too.

Billie:

When I was at fashion school, they made it very important we learnt about how we can be sustainable designers. As an independent fashion brand, it can be really hard to be sustainable, however, we are taking steps with every collection from the materials down to the packaging on different ways to be sustainable. I know that I have stopped buying so much fast fashion and only invest in pieces that last. This is a message we are portraying through our new collection, “Buy Once Wear Forever”, it’s so important that our designs are timeless, have amazing quality and are ethical.

What are your personal suitcase staples when travelling?

Josiah:

I always need to have my hair products with me, that’s a no-brainer. Obviously putting them in the house of XOXO wash bag and yes I made sure to do the test before had and all my toiletries fit into the wash bag.

Billie:

Mine is defiantly a handbag that I can style casually or smartly – makes more space for my XOXO airport outfit!

www.houseofxoxo.com

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