Q and A with Michelle from Akron Ohio, living in South Florida, USA
” Finding your niche client and product is the best way to start and grow a fledgling business.”
Q: What are you passionate about?
A: My true passion is color! I love vibrant, saturated colors. Luckily for me, color was important in my career, which ended up being in fashion. I have done literally everything in the fashion industry: in-store sales, MIS(data entry…computers were only just becoming relevant) advertising, photo shoots, styling, buying, selling, import, export, runway shows, showroom sales, design, manufacturing, fabric pattern design, and anything else I forgot.
I have visited the silk dyers in South Korea and the silk weaves in Italy. Stood next to the pile of hides to be tanned into leather for jackets and stood in freezing studios filled with sand and fans to create a summer photo set. From mass merchant to high-end luxury, I have done fashion. So, it was an easy transition to branding.
I am now a brand director for anyone starting a new biz or doing a brand refresh. What does that mean? It means a brand is not a logo. Creating a brand for your business gives you a clear direction and outlines your services. Clarity is the most important part of a business. I am sure you have heard it before, but if you sell to everyone, you sell to no one. Finding your niche client and product is the best way to start and grow a fledgling business. I also really like tarot!
Q: What were your younger years like?
A: How I survived the 70s…I have no idea! No seatbelts, drunk driving, smoking, hitchhiking, not to mention the serial killers who were apparently lurking everywhere. I actually had a pretty great childhood, and I am still friends today with the kids were lived in my neighborhood because we all went to the same schools, although we now live all over. My family had a restaurant and catering business and everyone worked. Not all of my 26 cousins, but most. So, my entrepreneurial spirit came from that family work ethic, and it still is very implanted in me today. I followed the narrow path and ended up getting married very early (20) as it was the only way out of the house. As you can imagine, that did not end well. But it set me on a path that took me to Europe. I lived in Germany for 15 years, learned the language and the culture, and traveled extensively. I have reached five of the seven continents (Antarctica & South America, I’ve yet to see).
Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?
A: You are enough. The “rules” you were taught, are only your rules, no one else is going to follow them so you might as well throw them right out the window. When I look back, believe me, I have a lot to look back on…I see a young person who was afraid to not follow the rules, this limited me and kept me from exploring all the things I could have. But obviously, my personality and confidence led me to push forward and break rules. There were a couple of quotes that always rang true, “leap and the net will appear, feel the fear and do it anyway”. At the time, I didn’t quite understand what that meant, but now I am much better at doing it and asking for forgiveness later. Whatever you think you want to do, do it.
Q: What does feminism mean to you?
A: In my lifetime, let me repeat that, in MY lifetime, women were not allowed to have credit, could get fired for being pregnant, and had very limited job opportunities. We couldn’t even run in a marathon! I am fully invested in feminism and getting equal rights for everyone, all the time. It is pretty weird to have lived through this evolution of women gaining more rights, but absolutely baffling that we are still not 100% there, yet. Seriously?
MORE ABOUT MICHELLE: I felt inspired to create a limited series podcast, where I interview women (of a certain age) to hear their stories. Women of any age would enjoy it! I also have a monthly newsletter about branding that is pretty fun, you can sign up for it on my website.
Thank you for reading! Connect with me:
MORE Q&As WITH MICHELLE:
Q: What do you like to draw inspiration from for your fashion?
A: Fashion leads to everything—food styling, home decor, and trends of all kinds. I believe fashion is a form of art and creativity.
Q: Traveling quite a lot, did you notice any similarities in fashion for all the countries? Or fashions that are always in style?
A: One thing for certain: black is always in fashion. It is sleek, minimalistic, and super elegant. No matter what country you’re in.
Q: And do you have a favorite country you want to go back to or have visited the most?
A: Having lived in Germany for such a long time, I feel the most at home there in any city. However, I also spent a lot of time in Paris and London. So, both of those cities are my favs. Germany, what was that like? I would need to write an entire book about my experience in Germany. I will say I went with one sentence in German…“Der bleistift ist nicht rot”… The pencil is not red… so that was super helpful, right? Oh, and I could also order a beer!
One thought on “Woman Wednesday: Michelle”
Great interview. Michelle is excellent at her chosen career. She is spot on with her suggestions and directions for your brand.