It has been awhile since we have updated the blog. We have been busy, firing on all cylinders. All three, two, occasionally one of us! Working, working to move the ball forward. We launched a new site and we are in the final stages of editing the documentary I have been working on for the past 3 years. Late hours, sacrificing time with family, learning every part of a business instead of just doing one thing great and so much more. Leaning on friends and family for support to keep the dream alive. It is a tough city and as the great Frank Sinatra sings it… ” If I can make it here, I’ll make it anywhere, it’s up to you New York, New York”!
Outside of the business, I am a mother, and wife. Balancing it all, while building a brand, certainly has it’s stressful moments. However, the inspiration and energy of this city is what I thrive from. And with New York being a fashion capital and the only one with a famed garment center, where one can make a sketch, sample and production all within a few city blocks, it certainly helps. New York, to the consumer, is all glamour, but it has it’s grit too. Behind the scenes, starving artists are busy creating, as they are around the world in other great cities, including Paris and Milan.
Recently, I read an article that Christian Louboutin lived in his studio for 8 years as he built his empire. Who would have ever thought this was how the brand evolved? I shouldn’t have been too surprised knowing the challenges I have faced in keeping things going over the past seven years. It takes tenacity and a fire in your stomach that roars. In the beginning, for every good thing that happens, there are 20 issues that come up and as time goes on the gap starts to become more narrow. You have to have a very stiff upper lip. And when the weight of the world is on your shoulders and you do not win the award or land the account or the magazine editorial, you have to dig deep. Then there is that moment, a moment that literally just happened as I am writing this piece! A magazine calls in and asks if they can shoot your bags for the September issue! That is the moment that gets you high and gives you the strength to keep fighting!
Each of us has our own story, woven with trials and tribulations. These stories bring us together and serve as inspiration when we question if we are on the right path.
We started Michelle Vale in December of 2006 with a small investment, made by my husband. The idea popped in my head one night while I was getting ready to go out. I did not like the way my jewelry looked with my outfit and I turned to my husband and said “Why hasn’t anyone created a line of bags with removable hardware.” He said, “why don’t you?” I said, “are you crazy?” He said, ” we are going to invest our money somewhere, what better investment than my wife”. It started like that and we were off to the races. WIth my husband learning code and building our first site and learning to photograph product. We packed and shipped all the boxes on our own. He even spent one of his birthdays, until three in the morning, preparing and order with me.
I have carried huge boxes of inventory up and down stairs and in and out of storage. I have fought with customs agents to make deadlines with minutes to spare. I have waited at the factory until 12 midnight to collect samples for a photo shoot scheduled to start at 8pm only to start at 1am which would go through the night. Followed directly by an infant at home who was awaking at 6am, just as I was walking in from that very shoot.
I have spent nights in tears upon finding out we did not get an editorial that we had just produced for and I have stayed up all night partying after finding out a major celeb was photographed wearing out bag! All this while managing an infant, going through a second pregnancy, with number 2 offering up the dreaded colic! Followed by toddler classes, nursery school, grammer school, hockey, soccer, baseball, gymnastics, birthday parties, and so much more. Balance was key for me, I wanted to have it all, my business and as much time with my kids as possible during the early years. I committed to drop off and pick up and instead worked to the wee hours of the morning to make that commitment a reality. A tough gig, but I survived.
Seven years later, here I am… still standing! I hope my story inspires you and that you can perhaps identify in some way. I look forward to reading all your stories and I know I will take inspiration from them too.