I had the pleasure of meeting Mimi and her dad in Washington D.C. this past May, as she was hosting a pop-up shop on H St. The moment I saw her pieces I fell in in love with her minimal designs and after chatting with her for a while, I had to ask her for an interview. Mimi, a native of the Washington, D.C. suburbs, has always been intrigued by the process of fashion design and appreciates the high level of craftsmanship needed to create beautiful garments.
At the age of 13, Mimi spotted a pair of embellished jeans with ornate hand-stitching, beading, and quirky fabric patches layered with stamped fabric ink. Looking at the price tag, her mother confidently said, “We can make that!” Little did she know, this would push Mimi on to the path of owning her own clothing label. The desire to create her own brand was born out of realizing a the need for longer yet modern silhouettes.
I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!
What is your advice to emerging entrepreneurs about overcoming challenges in business?
Whether you’re a newbie to the entrepreneurial life or a veteran, there are always challenges in business. One piece of advice that I’d offer is to keep pushing forward, no matter what. You go through highs and lows where its easy to work hard when everything is falling into place but then there are lows in which it’s hard to keep going. But its during that low point (i.e. the first few years) that you can’t give up.
What is a valuable lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
I’ve learned that you can’t take anything personal and think it’s a direct reflection of yourself. It’s easy to fall into the mindset of “no one is buying my product, therefore I must be a bad designer, engineer, etc.” More often than not, the problem isn’t with the design, it’s with the pricing and how it’s being marketed.
What is a financial tip you would give to emerging entrepreneurs that has helped you?
This may sound kind of crazy but I would encourage new entrepreneurs to pay for as much as they can with their own money-no investors, no credit cards. There is nothing worse than being in debt AND struggling financially to get your business off the ground.
What is the best business advice you’ve received?
The best business advice I’ve received is to not compare yourself to others and I will admit, this is easier said than done. I’m always looking at my competitors, many of which have been in business for 3-5 years and have a loyal customer base and not to mention, a fantastic product. It’s ok to keep up with what they’re doing since you share the same customer but make sure you are focusing on what makes your business unique and stand out rather than comparing where they are to where you are.
What is a book that changed your life and why?
I must admit that I’m not a huge reader, but Leave your Mark by Aliza Licht really spoke to me. I loved her tone and realness throughout the book but most importantly, she gave advice about supporting your competitors, something that is super important as a small business owner and entrepreneur. It was refreshing to hear this come from a woman who worked for one of the top American designers.
What is your favorite business quote?
My favorite quote comes from Bill Gates, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.”
What was your favorite part of this interview?