Sporty and Rich: Interview with Emily Oberg
X: Did you ever run into age-related obstacles?
EO: Definitely. I was the youngest at the company and I was the only one who didn’t go to school for journalism or media so there was a huge learning curve. Also because I was so young, I had no idea about office politics and how to act in a workplace so I definitely ran into problems and at times was way too emotional about the work. But I’m lucky that everyone on my team was so close, we were really like a family and they all helped me so much into becoming the person I am today. I’ll forever be grateful for that experience and I will always miss it/them.
X: I know this a question you get often, but how has the once totally male-dominated Fashion & Streetwear industry truly changed since you came upon the scene? Is there any aspect of the industry that has yet to evolve that you wish you could change for future females?
EO: Yes there are definitely a lot more women in the space but I think that’s only due to the fact that streetwear has become so mainstream and now has mass appeal which it never did before when I was just starting out. I don’t feel as though there needs to be an evolution, I think if you want to change to happen, start with yourself and your immediate surroundings. Life is what you make it and you have a choice to either give up or keep going when you hit an obstacle. If you really want something, you can have it.
X: As an ‘influencer’ yourself how do you remain original, authentic and inventive? How do you find the balance between influencing, being influenced and paving your way?
EO: I don’t have a manager or agent so I’m able to say no to a lot of things. I think the key is not totally selling out and risking your integrity or image or values for a check. I also make sure not to check social media too often because I find you can become too influenced by certain things and you can start to lose yourself that way.
I find the balance by always remembering who I am and why I do what I do. You need to have that purpose, that reason for why you are here on this earth, if you don’t have that, you are bound to feel lost and will be too easily influenced by what you see out there.
X: What are a few traits you believe were imperative to your success early on?
EO: Being able to put my ego aside.
Being emotional, people will say this is a bad thing, but because I was always so emotional about the work, I always did it wholeheartedly and fought hard for the things I believed in.
Being nice to everyone I met. I always say you can tell so much about a person by how they treat interns or those who aren’t exactly at their “level”.
X: You’re wildly committed, prolific and passionate; how do you do it all? Are there really enough hours in the day to achieve all you set out to do? What's the next project on the horizon for you?
EO: It may seem like I’m constantly working but really I’m not. I’ve mastered how to work smart, not hard, I don’t need 8 hours in a day to do all the things I need to get done. I am efficient and because I know what I want, I can get something done in half the time it might take someone else. After I left New York, I was really burnt out and I decided I didn’t want my life to revolve around work. Stress is the number one health epidemic, so I do my best to avoid it at all costs. I want to enjoy my life, not spend it working and stressing about something that will not matter in a year or two from now. Life’s too short for all that.
The next project will be something in the world of wellness, health and wellbeing. There’s a reason I push these messages so hard with the brand. There is a greater end goal to all of it.
X: Music is extremely influential both for you personally and the industry--what are you listening to right now?
EO: I’m constantly working on curating the Sporty & Rich playlists that we have on the site so I listen to a lot of new music but my heart is with the past always. I love Sergio Mendes, Sade, Chet Baker, Phoenix, Stan Getz, Daft Punk. A good mix of a lot of different things. I stopped listening to rap a year ago because I just can’t bring myself to listen to any of what’s out there right now. I don’t know how people do it.
X: I remember reading an interview where you mentioned that the best advice you’ve ever received is that ‘advice is something that you already know but need to hear from someone else." If you had to provide that extra validation for someone just starting in the industry what would it be?
EO: I would say, you have to know exactly what it is you want. You have to have a vision, a plan, an end goal. I love this saying: “If you fail the plan, you plan to fail.”
X: You have such a clear vision and have proven successful in focusing on the juxtaposition of the aspirational and the authentic---has there ever been a time
in your life when you feel influence/social media had gotten the best of you? Do you have any regrets?
EO: Sometimes social media gets in my head and scrolling at pictures of perfect-looking people with seemingly perfect lives can make you feel so shitty sometimes. But when that happens I know I need a break and need something better to do. I just use it to post now and less to scroll and look. It’s too damaging I think. I regret not living in the moment more. I always miss the past, not because the present isn’t as good, but it’s just different. Things change, your surroundings change, you change and sometimes you miss who you were at a certain point. I miss the naivety I had when I first moved to New York. I think I’m much more jaded now, but I’m working on that!
X: You spend your time between NYC, LA, and Paris—in what city can we find your favorite late-night, post-long workday meal?
EO: I love to eat, I eat more than anyone I know. When I go for dinner with my boyfriend, I always finish my food and his haha. My absolute favorite meal I’ve ever had is at Lilia in Williamsburg. Homemade focaccia with this green garlic butter, a gem lettuce salad, spicy baked clams, rigatoni pomodoro and the most amazing mafaldini pasta with pink peppercorns and then vanilla soft serve with sprinkles for dessert. Yum!!!