How making lists helps this fashion designer stay in control

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Eustacia's Stacy Rodriguez talks about the transformative power of lists, and why her morning fast gives her the energy she needs throughout the day. Photo courtesy of STACY RODRIGUEZ

Rizal (CNN Philippines Life) — Fashion designer Stacy Rodriguez says that she lists everything down: quick tasks, long term dreams, and even dream collaborations. “They're not obviously categorized by importance but I've created deadlines, symbols, and legends for the whole thing to work as a sort of map to my life.”

Lots of things keep Rodriguez busy these days. As the designer behind the brand Eustacia, she has spent four years cultivating a growing fanbase for her bold and ultra-feminine pieces that are easy to wear for special occasions or for no reason at all, which she offers as either custom or ready to wear. Her latest collection includes a signature shell top with an elaborate flounce, done in a variety of colors and fabric.

Beyond her eponymous brand, she is also pursuing a new fashion venture: ec, a new label she runs with her boyfriend Carlos del Prado. “Our first activity as a couple was to work on a pair of pants. Who does that?” Rodriguez shares. “And then ec was born. We just wanted to make clothes that either men or women can wear. It wasn’t even meant to be anything groundbreaking, we just wanted to share clothes.”

The Caligari from ec. Photo courtesy of STACY RODRIGUEZ

The Boxer by ec. Photo courtesy of STACY RODRIGUEZ

Since launching this year, ec offers a capsule collection of casual T-shirts, pants, and even face masks done in a mix of soft colors and sturdy prints. Although the brand does not label its pieces as loungewear, one can imagine the homebody appeal of its boxy silhouettes and lightweight material. Rodriguez says that while she and her partner have a lot of plans for the brand, she is happy with where it is right now.

“A lot of the plans required a lot of human interaction, growth, and even events,” she says. “Everything changed after the pandemic. We had to refocus our plans online and dial back some of our ideas. I have to say that we ended up in a place that feels very right.”

In this interview, the designer opens up about the transformative power of lists, and why her morning fast gives her the energy she needs throughout the day.

What’s the first thing you do each morning? How does that affect the rest of your day?

On my best days, I start it with exercise and coffee. I also try to avoid eating a meal in the morning.

What time of day do you feel most productive? Why do you think that works for you?

The morning! The less distracted I am by the “outside world,” the better. I was diagnosed with ADD [attention deficit disorder] as a child, so concentration is something I work on constantly. The further the day goes by, the more distracted I get, and this is why my mornings set the mood for the rest of my day.

What do you enjoy most about your job, and what do you find most challenging about it?

I've always loved fashion and what I love most about my job is that everyday is a chance to create something new. What I find most challenging is to apply all of this to the real world — to make sure it all works as a business.

Eustacia's signature shell top. Photo courtesy of STACY RODRIGUEZ

How do you deal with distractions?

Lists. I have a never ending list on the notes on my phone of all my tasks — quick, short, or long term tasks. And it really keeps me on track. It's not as organized as it sounds. They're not obviously categorized by importance but I've created deadlines, symbols, and legends for the whole thing to work as a sort of map to my life. As I said earlier, my ADD has been a constant challenge for me all my life. People who have worked with me or taught me have expressed frustration regarding this, but making lists (and creating a system that works for me only) has really helped me get closer to my potential.

With regard to day-to-day challenges, do you have a ritual that helps you through it?

Aside from making lists, fasting has really helped me get through my days. Because my mornings aren’t about meals, I'm able to get tasks done early. It also sets the mood of my day and I am always more energetic if I had fasted that morning.

When did you start this ritual? Was there a specific moment that inspired it?

Initially it was to lose weight, and unfortunately I can't say it's been beneficial in this aspect. It has though, helped me manage it. Even if it only keeps my weight in check, I really did notice it helping me in terms of clarity and energy so I kept at it. I wasn’t as diligent about it during the lockdown (Oh wait, lockdown pa pala, no? [Laughs]) so i'm only getting back to it slowly as our workdays are getting more and more normal.

Are you always able to accomplish this ritual? Does it have any bearing on your mood and your productivity?

I can say that I fast more days in a week than I don’t, but on the days that I don't I really do feel sluggish and heavy. Lists on the other hand are a must and never ending. I can't say I accomplish everything that's on those lists but the unfinished tasks have to be carried over for the next day. This doesn’t even just apply to everyday tasks — I have lists that have been carried over for months and even years.

Would you recommend this ritual to other people? Why or why not?

Worth a try, 100 percent. It’s helped me so much that I can't imagine it not being helpful to one other person out there.

Are there any apps you use for productivity?

Notes and Camera. I type everything down on my notes app — from to do lists, idea lists, life goal lists; there are even lists of people I'd like to work with, places I'd like to see for inspiration etc. The camera on the other hand is also another way I am able to visually list things for my memory. Everyone who knows me well knows how trigger-happy I am. I take pictures of EVERYTHING and even that is an act of listing for me. A way so that I don’t forget things.

How do you unwind after a busy day?

I’m really good at having fun. (Laughs) But really, in its simplest form, my most favorite way of unwinding after a crazy day is watching shows and being silly with my boyfriend (and business partner) Carlos.