Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a talk by the founder of DwellStudio, Christiane Lemieux, at SCAD Atlanta. We’ve been carrying DwellStudio since it was plain old Dwell, and I smiled when she put up slides of her sketches from her first collection (“I couldn’t afford a light table, so I used the window”), as they were so familiar and are still some of my favorite designs. In just a few short years, Christiane has taken a textile company and grown it into a lifestyle brand, and she is starting to become a household name among the design set, just like Jenna Lyons. Next stop Oprah?
Christiane geared her talk to the students, and laid out a path to entrepreneurship based upon her experiences. These included an education at Parsons, grabbing every internship under the sun (hers included a stint at Isaac Mizrahi), immersing yourself in the industry (manufacturing, shipping, selling, P.R., etc.), finding a niche and exploiting the heck out of new media.
Listening to these talks made me realize just how much the landscape of retail has changed for designers in the last decade. Portfolios on websites, Etsy stores, Social Media, microbrands, research, etc. have opened up so many opportunities to those who may lack a stockpile of start up bucks. Christiane encouraged students to license designs over selling them, to remain open-minded (DwellStudio’s images are used in a series of children’s books, something she’d never thought of!), to form strategic partnerships and to diversify.
She knows of what she speaks. Whenever Christiane has guest blogged over here, I’m humbled to admit they are the best posts we’ve ever published, and her own blog is beautiful. She is also one of my favorite twitterers (tweeters? whatever!). Thank you for the inspiration Christiane!