“God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved…” Psalm 46:5 This is the scripture that Fashion Designer Michelle Charise uses as her fuel. And what a powerful fuel it is as it reminded her that she could conquer New York Fashion Week (NYFW). As I listened to her share her fashion journey her poise, confidence, creativity and focus were so evident. I have never met Michelle in person yet I feel so proud of all she’s already accomplished, as if she was my sister or even my own daughter.
Michelle started her journey in fashion as an 18 year old. It’s easy for us to assume that teenagers don’t quite know yet what they want to do and they’ll change course. Michelle however defied that notion launching her women’s wear line just two years later and then showing at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) within five years of launching her line. What’s amazing too is that she is so deliberate in her actions as she carves out her niche in the fashion world. Each of her tattoos have a meaning. She has a very distinct design process. She avoided using the final brand name she wanted to use as she knew she’d make mistakes. And she bought the domain name for her final brand two years before she even launched it. Such deliberate focused steps. Michelle’s next goal is to build out her eStore and be recognized by the CFDA and I’m certain she’ll succeed.
Michelle is an inspiration. Her story prompts you to pickup whatever dream you had from the dusty closets of your soul and start working on it. I’m so glad I chose her for this week’s fashNcurious 5 feature. Here’s what Michelle shared with us:
Who is Michelle Charise? What gives you joy and energy?
I am a Fashion Designer, Photographer, and Blogger, but more than anything a woman with a vision and on a journey of making my biggest dreams a reality one day at a time based on the pure excitement of life, a love for creativity, an obsession with fashion, and testing the fact that if you work hard enough and long enough with an abundance of passion your dreams really will come true.
My joy stems from the chance to develop my talents to the fullest in order to pursue my dreams, while simultaneously inspiring others to transform into their best self’s and live a life they once could only imagine. The moment a woman lights up at her reflection while wearing a MC creation or decides to pursue her dream is the energy that keeps me going from one season to the next.
What do your tattoos say? Why did you choose them? You said four..what one other tattoo would you get?
I love tattoos as the most personal form of self-expression and storytelling. And I really love quotes, as wise tips from successful people of the past to help us navigate our own journeys today. For me my tattoos are notes-to-self and a permanent reminder that no matter how hard things may get or how far away my goals may seem to just keep going because ultimately it is always worth it.
My first tattoo was when I changed my major from Business Management to Fashion Merchandising and decided to pursue fashion full-time. So at 18 I went straight to the tattoo shop for a waist tattoo of shooting stars and growing vines intertwined with the infamous words “Live. Laugh. Love” and two years later in 2011 started my womens wear line under the first brand name Simply L3ve with the “L3” as homage to the quote.
My second tattoo was when I was preparing for New York Fashion Week 2016; under the second brand name Michelle C. Gibson. I wanted to see this tattoo everyday like a ribbon you tie on your finger, being a huge a milestone after 5 years, so on my three inner fingers were written the words “Dream It. Believe It. Achieve It.” with crosses as the “t’s”.
The following month, I went through a really rough break-up after 6 years and when every ounce of me wanted to give up the words “she who is brave is free.” was written on my right forearm in my favorite font that reminds me of the streets of Paris, my love for fashion, and to stay strong even during the times of unknown.
After such an emotional year the thought of pushing through another season was extremely daunting but in February 2017 Michelle Charise, the final brand name, was introduced to the world. To celebrate my 4th New York Fashion Week show a week after the runway my left forearm was inked with a puncturing sewing needle and the numbers “46:5” as symbolism for the bible verse, “Psalm 46:5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”
So much as transpired in the past 7.5 years, so for now I’m waiting patiently to see what the next 2.5 years has in-store before I go back to the shop for #5!
Why did you want to be a designer? Was this always your dream?
Vogue! The worlds that were created through those editorial images has always been so magical and definitely influenced my choice to pursue Fashion Design. From the designs, the models, the hair, the make-up, the styling, the locations, and the fantasies told in a series of images; I had to be a part of that world.
In second grade I really knew I wanted to pursue anything creative; art hour was definitely my favorite. In high school it was all about Photography and Graphic Design. And as a freshman at Howard University that is when I realized I could combine all of my passions and pursue Fashion as a career.
Where do you pull your design inspiration?
Each collection is inspired by 3 things. An element in nature, the lyrics to a song, and an inspiring quote that propels me through that year.
Describe the woman you design for.
The Michelle Charise woman is a woman pursuing her dreams while inspiring others. She confidently walks into the world’s spotlight with daring style, regal sophistication, and a whole lot of pinches of fantasy.
What plans do you have for the Michelle Charise brand and line?
My next projects include the e-shop, custom order experience, and the 2018 Collection. I really want to expand the reach of the brand to an international clientele by making all of my designs available through the e-shop. Simultaneously, custom order wedding dresses and evening gowns was a new venture that launched this past February that I am really excited to expand locally throughout the Washington DC Metro Area. And lastly, the 2018 collection is my latest baby project which will hopefully make it onto a few red carpets, magazine spreads, local retailers, and trigger the interest of the CFDA.
We wear so many hats and have different priorities. How can women seize the moment and pursue their dreams what 5 tips can you share?
1) Create a detailed vision board. Follow-up with a timeline of how and by when you want to achieve those goals. Truly dream as big as you can then even bigger than that.
2) Make a schedule and stick to it. Consistency and self-discipline is essential to gaining results. And having a coinciding budget never hurts. The most important thing is that you get a little bit done each day. It really adds up, so just get it done!
3) Find your niche. Your style. Your look. Your perceptive. Your values. What makes you unique, authentic, trusted, and likeable? Then capitalize on those good traits and strengths, and repeat. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find your voice, natural rhythm, and confidently feel like the best version of you.
4) Get involved. Being a part of a community of likeminded creatives is extremely important and where you may lack, others can educate, mentor, validate, strengthen, inspire, connect, collaborate, and support.
5) Have fun, give it your best, and follow your passion! Do it because you love it and it makes you truly happy because you have done your very best. So no matter if you get 0 likes or 1000 you will still have the tenacity to keep striving.
Do you have a celebrity whose style you’d like to emulate?
Rihanna gives me life; her spirit, evolution, and daring style. From court side street style to effortless vacay pics to celeb limo walks to chic launch events to concert swag to red carpet wows. She has fun with fashion and life, and she always leaves you with an iconic moment.
What’s that one beauty product you can’t live without?
Under eye concealer is the one beauty product I cannot live without. Unfortunately late nights, early morning, sometimes leads to dark circles. For the day’s I am rushing a few dabs and I look wide awake again!
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