How and why did you start Mien?
I started in Mien in 2015 when I was pregnant with my first child. Frustrated by the lack of better quality clothing that could adapt to my changing body while being low maintenance and versatile. I set out to design a capsule that was pregnancy-friendly and beautiful for pre, during, and postpartum wear. Our most popular styles are made from locally sourced certified organic cotton fabric. I started small, making limited pieces and shipping from my home, I handled practically everything for the first few years until I could start hiring people for help. There is no secret other than really hard work and undoubtedly some luck at the right time. Keeping the business model simple, the design quality high, customer service dependable and investing in talented people helped my brand grow steadily.
What was starting a business so important to you?
As a long-time clothing designer, I've worked for brands large and small and I wanted to try to do things my way, to build a fashion brand that offers quality, beautiful styles that flatter many bodies, while being more sustainable when almost all clothing brands at the time weren't. Because my brand is smaller, we have the agility and capabilities to listen to what our customers want and implement meaningful changes. When I designed for other brands, this would not have been easy or even possible.
How did you come up with the designs for the collection?
I pull inspiration from the busyness of everyday life and what people love to wear. When designing, I try to blend styles that are of-the-moment with practicality, ease, and timelessness. As a brand, we have the best, eco-friendly fabrics and high quality local factories to help bring my designs to life. Sometimes a great fabric available to us inspires a new design. Then at times, a new silhouette sends me on a hunt for a new fabric we can use. No matter how a design comes to fruition, we always produce in small batches so resources are not wasted.
What’s your favorite part of being a small business owner? Your least favorite part?
It's impossible to pick just one but some of my favorite parts of being a small business owner is the creative freedom, the control over my daily schedule (this was gained over time as I've had more help and I'm grateful to have it now), and the opportunities to meet other like-minded people that have become close friends over the years. My least favorite was loneliness during the first few years. There was always the fear of making wrong decisions and wondering what my next move should be and it can feel very isolating. I sometimes would seek out advice from trusted family and friends but most of the time the decision was ultimately mine, the consequence would be mine, and that can be scary and stressful.
What would you say to someone looking to start a business or a new career?
Julia Child didn't speak French, set out to learn how to cook in France and found great success overtime -- she was 40 when she started. It's never too late and success isn't defined by how much fame or monetary gains you collected from the business. Success is defined by what you value most in life (whether it's courage, confidence, friendship, tenacity, or others) and more importantly, the process of finally making bold moves to give your ideas a try is something most of us would not regret decades later when we look back. In other words, enjoy the ride. If you fully trust in yourself, dedicate your time and hard work to a dream, make the smartest and best choices you can make, even if your efforts don't become feasible or everything ends somehow it likely would still be absolutely worthwhile when you look back on this time. You would come out a different person, braver, more confident. For me, the hardest thing would be to always wonder if I never even gave myself a chance. If your life allows and you feel a pull towards a passion or an aspiration, it's likely worth your time to give it a go or at least look into.