Molly DeMott- Owner and Designer of Miss Molly’s House of Fashion & Design, is a fashion entrepreneur who has lots of creativity and inspiration designing a brand of vintage fashionable wear. Lansing Mosaic caught up with Molly DeMott for an interview learning more about how she started her successful business.
LM: How long have you been in business? Tell us about your business?
Molly: Originally I graduated from MSU with a Bachelors of Science in Apparel & Textile Design. I then started that following Fall, October 2010 with a DBA/wholesale business licence. I thought to myself, I could ether move to a big city like Nashville, New York, Chicago, etc. or I could start my own business and see where it would take me. I didn’t like the idea of working for someone else (like a well known designer) and they put their name/brand on your ideas and designs because you work for them, that didn’t interest me. I then started small with creating what once a college professor once told me “your designs are all Miss Molly style, you need to make them less you and think outside of the box.” I thought to myself isn’t that the point, so that people recognize your work without looking at the label?!? That saying has stuck with me from the day she quoted that. From that moment on I made it a personal goal to stay true to what I am about as a designer. I design what I like and from what inspires me: vintage fabric, trims, nature, colors, sparkle, accessories (this one is a big one), vintage jewelry, Pinterest, Instagram, my mother, lace, going to vintage markets, etc. I started with a little wholesale accessories line on the side as well as designing clothes on the side. After working a full time day job, I always kept creating designs and also did that on the side too. At the same time I created my business I took on being a substitute teacher to help supplement my income. The first few years I did small design side jobs and also started in the craft show seen. In 2013 I acquired and purchased an old farmhouse that is on Hwy 57. I thought to myself, Do I need to take on another BIG project? This idea of owning this building quickly sparked interest in making it a “Miss Molly’s” store. In the meantime I worked every job I could get related to design and anything else that came my way. The start of 2015, I thought to myself I could be in one of those pop-up vintage style markets. I decided to try one and it changed how I thought about everything that related to what I wanted to do business wise, plus being with other fabulous creative business people was a life changer. Following that show I started to fill my calendar with markets that I thought I would do good at. I started collecting vintage even before I created the Miss Molly’s name. This has lead to Miss Molly’s Vintage that is a division of Miss Molly’s House of Fashion & Design. Fast forward to 2015 I travel almost every weekend to unscale vintage markets (depending on the season). I am continuing to work on the brick & mortar building that I have and will be opening that as a business.
LM: What makes your business Unique?
Molly: Unique you say?? Well, my collection of vintage retro is all unique. You don’t very often find the same vintage piece twice. My business is unique due to the fact that I focus on mix & matching prints in clothing with funky fashion and accessories. The mix & matching part is using different patterns in one look and using accessories is a must, this amps up your outfit and you stand out, and people remember that. I advertise and stress to customers that it is just as easy to wear jeans & a t-shirt–so dress up because you never know who you might meet in the process. I also very much enjoy collecting funky vintage items and having a side business of selling all things vintage.
LM: What is your workspace like?
Molly: Oh gosh!!! More like work maze! I am in the process of transitioning from a full living room area to a studio space in the farm house building that will be my brick & mortar store location. The new studio has a full built in cupboard from ceiling to floor. That is where all of my collections of supplies will be categorized and stored. Everything that I have collected is organized by topic: fabric, trims, embellishments, misc., etc. I have 3 rings binders of anything & everything that inspires me, from a printed napkin to a magazine ad. I also can’t live without an inspiration board, it is a must!
LM: What do you love most about Fashion?
Molly: I would start with fabric, it can make or break an item of clothing. There is nothing comparable to a well made fabric. It just adds so much to your outfit when you are wearing well made clothing. The other favorite would be mix and matching prints -how they look together, taking one main color that is in all the prints. When this is done right the outfit is so unique. With fashion there are endless possibilities.
LM: Where did you get your inspiration from?
Molly: I draw inspiration from pretty much anything. From an outfit that I see on a person, to a color that is in a pillow, if I like something I consider that as an inspiration spark. I would also say that I get inspired by: nature, a T.V. show, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, magazines, blogs, home decor, etc. I really enjoy the 20s, 30s, & 40s vintage fashion/styling (these are always exciting to look at).
LM: How would you describe your clients?
Molly: The clients and customers that I have had the pleasure meeting & have come in contact with I would say they are looking for something unique and of course different that no one else would normally have, like from a chain/box store.
LM: What is your creative process like?
Molly: When I start a project or when inspiration starks I start with jotting down ideas ex.) dress, skirt, top, fabric choice,etc. The inspiration could even come from a paper good that I thought was interesting. I then start searching for fabric, trims, buttons, and then the hard work starts.
LM: How do you come up with your designs?
Molly: Coming up with a design is the part that is the easiest for me. All design ideas start with a base: top, skirt, pants, or dress. The design process then naturally leads to making the design your own with the details (what makes it unique): tucks, pleats, stitching, adding layers. I look at this step like adding accessories to your outfit before you leave to go out. Most times my first inspiration idea ends up becoming/changing to a different design by 50%, to something even better than I came up with in the beginning!
LM: Who are some people that have inspired you throughout your business?
Molly: People that have inspired me or made an impact in my life…where do I start! My Mother, she is always there helping me no matter what the task is. She deserves more thank you’s than I can ever give her and this business is just as much or more hers than is is mine. The next person that I could and will never forget would be Mr. Bill Lett. His back story-from Lansing, started sell pots and pans, then opened his bridal shop in 1970. I originally went into his store to see if I could do an internship and get credits (at this time it was fall 2009). From the time I had an interview with him to the internship he was a unique person that had drive and knew what he wanted and went after it. I learned so much from his business.. I then was asked to stay on as an employee and continued to work there through graduation and my first two years out of college. I then continued to stay in contact with him and stayed friends since then. This guy is truly one-of-a-kind. I could go on and on about him. Then next person is a person that I met when I was out of college. I had started my small business and just by randomness and the love of vintage antiques and a fellow business owner himself, is an attorney in Owosso, MI. I meet him when I when into his antique store and we just started talking about antiques and then that lead to business talk and we have been friends ever since. The list could go on and on. I will just say it’s the people that I have meet at shows and business events that I have connected with and it feels like I have been friends with the forever would.
LM: Have you been featured in any fashion shows?
Molly: I started doing fashion shows in college. I was a member of a club call SADA (Student Apparel Design Association) and did two shows each in the spring of my junior and senior year. I then was asked to be in the annual WCR (Women’s Council of Realtors of Lansing, MI) Spring Fashion show for 3 years. They put on a show every year and showcase local businesses with a fashion show event and the proceeds from the event went to a local charity.
LM: Who are some of your favorite designers?
Molly: I have to say I honestly like lots of different designers but the one that I always get drawn into is Oscar de la Renta. His choice of fabrics, dress designs, styling, accessories are just all so dreamy to me. His designs just seem so classic with a twist to me, which is what I like. Others to name just a few: Chanel, Salvatore Ferragamo, Monique Lhuillier Bridal-is to die for!, Vivienne Westwood, Betsey Johnson.
LM: What resources have you used in Lansing to get your business started?
Molly: I have to say that whenever I have to go out and buy supplies or meet someone for business it is going to Lansing. I went to college at Michigan State University (Go Green!) that then lead to buying class supplies and fabrics that I need in Lansing. I also used various business and printing businesses in Lansing too. When I was asked multiple times to be in the fashion shows at the WCR Annual banquet fundraiser shows, the venues were always in Lansing (Plaza Hotel & Hawk Hollow).
LM: What do you like to do in Lansing when not working
Molly: Where do I start?! Lansing has so much to offer, there are always events & activities going on. I enjoy going into Hobby Lobby, Jo-Ann Fabrics, & Michaels for inspiration and supplies-I look at this as enjoyment not work. I went to school at Michigan State University so that is always a wonderful place to go back and visit especially in the Fall. And of course there is always the movie theater and shopping!
Miss Molly House of Fashion & Design
58 East Cleveland Rd. Ashley, MI 48806 (on US 57)
Phone: (989) 307-9364:
About the Author
Ashlee R. Willis is the founder of Lansing Mosaic. Her mission is to help diversify entrepreneurship and highlight small businesses in Lansing, MI. She loves to network, plan & host events, coffee and be involved with the community.
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