"Many years as a vintage clothing buyer inspired me to create garments with discarded fabrics that give each piece an original or “one of a kind” look."
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Nice to meet you, Melissa! May we have your email address, please?
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MelissaPlease let us know your website.
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Firstly Melissa, how would you best describe yourself?
Melissa. Tell us ABOUT yourself.
Originally born in Montreal, I was influenced by my mother who worked as a seamstress since childhood and later in garment production for large-scale clothing distributors in my hometown.
Some of my earliest memories were visiting my mother at work. I would often sit with the in-house designer there. She would ask me to pick out the colours and details of the clothing she designed.
This time is looked upon with fond memory as this, and other experiences would help shape my path and my love of clothing design.
At the age of twelve, I moved with my family to Vancouver where my love for fashion and design flourished. Out of high school, I found myself working as a vintage clothing buyer for several local companies. This built a strong relationship with connections inside the “rag trade” which is where I currently source the bulk quantities of recycled textiles necessary for the use in my up-cycled creations.
Many years as a vintage clothing buyer inspired me to create garments with discarded fabrics that give each piece an original or “one of a kind” look.
There is also a double advantage in using recycled materials; not only do they reduce waste in the environment, but they also add distinctive personality to each one of my handmade designs.
Every single handmade garment has a heartbeat and a story to tell, a true labour of love from start to finish. Inspired by the preservation of our planet, each up-cycled garment is completely original and made with up to 95% recycled and vintage materials.
After many years of experimenting with textiles on my own, I am proud to say that I am a self-taught designer and entrepreneur.
Aside from mainly relying on intuitive sense and previous years in retail sales I have also participated in an entrepreneurial program at Douglas College that attributed to the jump start of my business and my clothing label.
My eco-chic clothing line can now be found in boutiques across Canada. Added to this I am also an event organizer for an annual art market called Nifty for Fifty which promotes the work of 30 local designers and artists on Main Street in Vancouver, BC, every April which just celebrated its 10th year anniversary in 2017.
I have been actively promoting my eco-label, since 2003, at markets such as Circle Craft and shows like Vancouver Eco Fashion Week.
My work has also been featured in local and National media and publications including the Georgia Straight, Vancouver Sun, City TV-Breakfast Television, Shaw Cable, The Knowledge Network, CBC and a slough of fashion blogs and publications like FASHION and Treehugger and most recently spotted at the British Actors Film and Television Awards.
With clientele growing rapidly and plans for company expansion underway, approaching markets in the U.S and overseas are already underway.
It is an exciting time for this growing local company with promises of new and challenging possibilities in the future and with enthusiasm and perseverance in the heart of it all there in also lays the potential for great success.
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Our readers would love to get to know you more Melissa. Tell us about yourself, what is unique about you?
I have always been an imaginative, creative minded and highly motivated individual who is possibly why I am a self-taught designer. I love working with my hands (it's almost a need at this point, I'm constantly fidgeting with my fingers otherwise) so naturally, I have many other creative interests outside of fashion.
Before I started Adhesif Clothing, I wrote a dozen books of unpublished poetry, loved to work with film photography, as well as painting.
I'm very passionate about the environment and give creative workshops about the topic of sustainability where my schedule permits.
I'm a HUGE music buff and have a massive collection of records. I also LOVE to dance. Make love not war right?
Melissa, what are your passion and aspiration in life? How did you start as a Designer?
I started out working as a vintage clothing buyer right out of high school. The vintage boutique that hired me noticed I had an "eye" for distinguishing older textiles and gave me a shot. I knew a lot about 1950's-1980's fashion, and I was trained to understand textiles from older decades. I did this job for many years and even travelled to India in the process.
This experience set me on my path as an up-cycler and eventually, I started my own eco-friendly label, Adhesif Clothing in 2003.
I'm very passionate about art , design and the handmade process. I love objects that encompass stories.
My first love has always been vintage clothing and textiles. The workmanship and quality of these older materials can't be beaten!
I often think to myself "Man, if only thins thing could speak? What would it say, where has it been, who wore this amazing thing?" It's all very romantic, like the feeling of love at first sight when you discover something magical.
It's these feelings I try to emulate into my design process. I put a lot of thought into the compositions of every single garment and accessory I create. I Love the idea of breathing new life into older textiles.
Who is your inspiration in life Melissa? How do you keep inspired?
My mother inspires me. She's had a tough run in life raising me and my two brothers as a single mother. Despite her challenges, she has this unwavering ability to see the good in everything and in everyone. She's very resourceful; she taught me how to do a lot with very little. She also taught me how to sew on industrial sewing machines. She's a constant source of encouragement, and she inspires me to be more patient and to be a better person.
We all make mistakes Melissa; we wish we could take back. Please tell us about a time being a Designer; you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.
I had hired a PR agency whom I paid thousands to promote a past collection. The publicist ended up "losing" all of our one-of-a-kind samples from that collection in transit and did nothing to rectify the situation. That was a huge blow, both in the loss of irreplaceable items as well as in trust. Especially since we didn't even get any press from this company either. Compensation was never made for the any of the loss. It's hard to know what to do in a situation like this. A lesson learned was trusting your gut instinct. I had an unsure feeling about working with this individual from the beginning and should've refrained in doing so. Now I'm a much better judge of character!
Melissa , when you’re working with a large number of clients, it’s tricky to deliver excellent service to them all. As a Designer, how do you go about prioritizing your clients’ needs?
I'm very grateful to have a wonderful team to work with. My assistant/pattern drafter is my right-hand lady, my mother is our main seamstress, and I also have another p/t gal who helps with studio work and sales. When ever I'm in need of some assistance I'm so lucky to be able to call on these ladies to help in areas of customer service, so no one ever feels left out.
Please tell us, Melissa, about a time you had to be very strategic to meet all your top priorities as a Designer?
I'm a bit of a type A personality actually. People who know me will tell you I'm extremely organized. To avoid the overwhelm, I actually create daily to-do lists and set realistic goals for my self to complete weekly. This helps keep everything in order as well as to maintain a proper work + life balance.
Melissa, please give us an example of a time when you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way at work.
I'm actually quite a persuasive and charismatic individual generally speaking. I think if you say anything with confidence and live a life of purpose it comes though in everything you do. Good feelings are contagious, people want to be around people that build them up and make them feel good about themselves and their own abilities. Being considerate and keeping others interests in mind is what leaders do. It's easy to get a following when you are this type of person.
Melissa, please tell us about your proudest professional accomplishment as a Designer. There might be many, but there is always this proudest moment that you just want to share with everyone. What is it and why?
There are really quite a few accomplishments I'm very grateful for, but if I had to pick one, I would say it was when I was hired by Microsoft to assist in the design work of two of their major characters from their most recent release of the Gears of War 4 game.
I was scouted out through my Etsy shop platform because of my design aesthetic. I was also the very first fashion designer they had ever recruited for a project like this. Needless to say, it certainly was a huge boost to my ego and I felt like I was walking on cloud nine for the six-month contract.
Melissa, please give us an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or difficult about it?
I'm creative with every single aspect of my work on a daily basis. Since every single one of my garments is hand cut and one-of-a-kind. I have literally created thousands of unique garments and accessories over the last 14 years. Unlike other main stream designers who generally do not have much to do with physically sewing, cutting or finishing the details of their garments. I do this on a daily basis. Even my patterns are drafted on paper by hand. It's a highly creative but tedious process.
Having to think out the composition and fabrics of every single garment from start to finish is very highly creative but also very mentally exhausting. Every piece presets its own challenge like working on new puzzles daily.
What advice would you give to the people who want to be successful as a Designer?
Find your own style and stay true to yourself. Don't compromise your ideas or morals for anything or anyone. Work hard, stay focused and stay humble!
Are you looking for collaboration with fashion talents, brands and creatives? If yes, please state below what type of collaboration you are looking for?
I'm always looking to do collaborative photo shoots with photographers and models. I'm also a professional stylist and creative director.
I would also love to work with visual artists on creating custom fabrics and art installations.
Thomas Ruppel @thomas_ruppel -1st + 5th img
Adria Leduc @adrialeduc - 2nd img
Daniel Mark @danielmarkphotography - 3rd img
Benjamin Kwan @benjaminkwanphoto - 4th photo
Patryk Widejko @widejkophotography - 6th img
Martin Kryzwinksi - 7th img
Kathryn Mussallem @kathrynmussallemphotographer - 8th img