May 11, 2018
Miss P: intro… Michele, it’s such a pleasure to meet you and though we are a few years apart in age (wink wink) I think we are like-minded spirits. Guess we are fellow Groupies after all.
Michelle: So happy to meet you as well.
Miss P: I've always wondered where you got the name of your brand, Save The Parade 1969, from.
Michelle: I was searching for a name that would represent fun and optimism, yet have an edge to it, as well as a nostalgic feeling. I think of "parade" as being an uplifting, organized celebration. By adding the word "Saving" it implies that there is turmoil (maybe it has gone rogue and the organized, practiced routines of a traditional parade have turned into a free spirited hippie fest), this gives it the fun, yet dark juxtaposition I was looking for. As for the 1969, it is one of my favorite years in history, the year Woodstock, Apollo 11, and some pretty epic Vietnam war protests took place.
Miss P: You grew up loving music and the lifestyle of the 60s & 70s… did you always think of yourself as kind of a hippie?
Michelle: Absolutely. The lifestyle and naive optimism of the hippie revolution has always intrigued and inspired me. Something about the epidemic that took place in 1967 when teenagers were running away to San Francisco (with love in their eyes and flowers in their hair) to experience the best time in American history, The Summer Of Love, is deeply romantic, refreshing, and so full of life and energy. I've always tried to keep the hippie mentality in mind as a sort of central guide to the way I perceive life.
Miss P: Was your Mom a hippie and what did she think about you becoming an artist and designer?
Michelle: It was obvious that my mom was a product of the times, but she was never the girl out there protesting the war or running off with the band. She totally had that free spirited look and vibe though, bell bottoms, hair like Cher, etc. She had a love for rock n roll which she passed on to me. I remember her telling stories and knowing interesting facts about the bands or members of that time, which always intrigued me. She's a huge fan of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and The Who. I share her same passion for music but I tend to favor psychedelic rock over anything else (Jefferson Airplane being one of my number one favorites). Alongside my love for rock n roll is art, which my mom has been supportive of since I was a child.
Miss P: What kind of child were you?
Michelle: I was the more quiet type, in my head, always thinking, imagining and drawing... After I graduated high school, I decided I wanted to go to Art Center College Of Design and major in fine art, but my parents were not as supportive of this idea. They were concerned it would be difficult to sustain a stable career with an art degree. However, I was stubbornly relentless; I was going one way or another, so they eventually came around and supported my decision to move to Pasadena and study Fine Art.
Miss P: How much did that era’s sexually liberated attitude have to do with your desire to design sexyy under garments and lingerie? Which I love, by the way.
Michelle: The 1960's sexually liberated (and just liberated in general) attitude definitely had a lot to do with my desire to design intimates, as it is pretty much the foundation of the way I generally think. My goal is to create wearable art that women can wear out or wherever and however they choose. I'm interested in creating pieces that will empower women; make a woman feel confident, strong and free spirited which is more sexy than anything they could ever wear.
Miss P: As a talented business woman whose built a successful brand, what are your largest challenges?
My largest challenge would, by far, be the constant juggling of cash flow and having to reinvest in the company without an investor. It's difficult to grow a brand without adequate working capital and definitely slows the growth of the company down. Many times, there are high minimums we are required to hit for raw materials and I may have to compromise the original design to settle for something that is realistic with the budget; of course, this always breaks my heart, because I have a specific vision of how everything should be.
Miss P: Do you feel like you’re treated as an equal to your male counterparts in business?
Michelle: I think so, the fashion industry is a funny place though. I have found that if you're fearlessly confident, doing something interesting, and of course always sweet... but tough, you do just fine.
Miss P: You have a very distinctive style. Your patterns and designs run from sweetly innocent rainbows and lace to more risqué, and dare I say, ultra-feminine S&M influenced panties with straps and buckles…
Michelle: Well, I like to play with style and juxtapositions of what is considered "sweet" or "naughty". Tampering with traditional ideas of taboo, pushing boundaries of what is comfortable and acceptable is something I explore through my designs.
Miss P: Why do you think women are more open about expressing their sexual desires and fantasies?
Michelle: I think it's more culturally acceptable for women to do so. We are considered to be softer, more emotional creatures, therefore "desires" or "fantasies" that we may possess do not have the boundaries that a man may face when expressing this. I think men could be fearful that their fantasies are "wrong" or emasculating. Men traditionally have a harder time with vulnerability, expressing desires or fantasies could be a risk.
Miss P: Where do you see fashion going in the future? Maybe you should design a line of sexy underwear we can wear on Mars… just in case there are some super cute aliens out there.
Michelle: Hmmm, sexy underwear we can wear on Mars... I like the idea of cute aliens wearing lingerie, haha. My newest collection is actually inspired by space, so wait and see! SS/2018 ;)
Miss P: And how did you launch your fashion career?
Michelle: I started my previous brand Private Arts with my friend and sister. We made some samples and took them to Magic in Las Vegas with no booth and no pass to get into the show. We ended up getting a pass from someone while standing outside and went into the show with our samples in a bag, walked into a booth and showed our stuff to the reps. That's how we got our first L.A. showroom.
Miss P: Is there anything young women can learn from your experience as an entrepreneur and leader in the fashion industry?
Michelle: I know it sounds cliché, but work hard and don't give up! Don't be afraid to face your fears, network and talk to people in person if you can instead of calling or emailing (but of course always follow up with a phone call or email).
Miss P: Before we go, I know you love poetry and reading - are you reading anything interesting now?
Michelle: Sadly, I'm not reading anything at the moment because I'm so busy with life. However, I'm constantly pulling inspiration from poetry and songs. One of my favorite poets is Ann Sexton who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967. Her poetry is abstract and manic, I just love it.
Miss P: Well, you’re definitely a special woman and a favorite of everyone at Groupie so I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Michelle: Me too. It's been fun.
Miss P: We love Save The Parade 1969 and are thrilled to feature some of your collection on @groupieu and groupieu.com. Thanks for this little chat, Michelle.
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