81Poppies designer, Michelle Weisman, collaborated with Mynt to create a trunk show of her spring collection. Weisman brought her new fashion line to the store and had one-on-one sessions with students April 7 -8 to discuss which pieces of her line would look best and to get to know the people wearing her clothes.
Q: When did you decide that you wanted to go into the fashion field?
A: I have always known that I wanted to be in the fashion business. I have been doing anything I could. I have always read up on fashion, studied fashion and I worked at different stores. If I saw an opportunity that would allow me to work with any side of the fashion world, then I took the chance.
Q: Your mother is an artist and your father used to be a carpenter and worked on many interesting houses in the Houston area. Did having parents who were both visual and creative people help you enter the fashion field?
A: My parents were always encouraging, especially my mom. I always looked up to her. As an artist, she did all of these weavings and wall hangings that inspired me because of the print and the color. I really love color. Her work definitely served as an inspiration.
Q: You attended Pratt Institute and received your BFA in fashion design. How do you think that your time at the university helped you?
A: My years at Pratt Institute were really fun and I was glad I went to Pratt Institute instead of the Fashion Institute or Parsons. I got to have this college experience on an actual campus and I was inspired by many of the people that I got to work with.
Q: After graduation you interned for Mint by Jodi Arnold and then worked as an assistant designer upon graduation. What did you learn as an assistant designer?
A: Because it was a small company, I got to gain experience in so many different aspects of fashion including sales, shipping and public relations. You really get thrown into so many different situations with a smaller company. I feel that at a bigger company, you wouldn’t get all of the benefits that I got.
Q: After working with Jodi Arnold, you worked as the swimwear designer for Shoshanna. What was it like to work with swimwear?
A: In school, we had to learn lingerie and swimwear. It’s very technical and all about fit and elements you don’t think about. However, Shoshanna has a lot of prints. I love prints and colors, so I focused on that aspect. I don’t know if I would go back and work with swimwear again, or create a swimwear line myself, but I learned a lot.
Q: Now you have a fashion line in Texas. Why did you go back to Texas? What is the Texas fashion aesthetic like?
A: I grew up in Texas and I wanted to be back closer to family. You get used to a lifestyle where you have space. You get used to having a house with a backyard instead of a 400-square-foot apartment in New York. Texas definitely has its own fashion sense, especially in Austin. It is all about being casual and comfortable. The name of my fashion label, 81Poppies, even has an association with Texas. I was born in 1981 and poppies are a flower that grows wild in Texas.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration for 81Poppies?
A: I get inspiration from my travels. I have traveled to Italy, Israel, Amsterdam, Hawaii and Mexico. I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to travel. I also get inspiration from my husband, who is a painter. His paintings inspire me. His paintings are very colorful. I also love being outdoors and nature inspires me a lot.
Q: What brought you to Mynt and the Town of Elon?
A: I used to work with Justin, who works at Mynt, at Shoshanna. She was doing public relations while I was there. When I started my line she was like, ‘of course, we will carry your line.’ She is someone I trust.
Q: While at Elon, you are giving one-on-one sessions with students. Do you think it is important to spend personal time with buyers?
A: I love helping people find the right style that works for them. Shoppers want a personal experience— it makes them feel special. I also like to get to know who is buying my clothes. It’s exciting that they are wearing my clothes, I love that.
– Compiled by Rebecca Smith, managing editor
The original story is published here