We are so honored to have a very special guest for our Designer Spotlight series this week! Introducing Marrisa Wilson, of Marrisa Wison NY – an up-and-coming fashion designer you need to know – and the recent winner of the 2023 Fashion Group International Rising Star Award, Ready-to-Wear Category. #YYYAAAAASSSS
As you know, one of Holly’s passions is supporting new designers, small businesses, and especially women entrepreneurs that are changing the fashion industry for the better.
This series in our podcast gives us the opportunity to learn about how fashion is created, and to peek behind the seams (pun, get it? ha!) to learn about the art of fashion and the artists who create it.
Have you ever wondered how someone becomes a fashion designer? A painter? Or any sort of creative producer?
Of course, it takes raw talent. And it usually presents from an early age. We hear this often, as is the case with Marrisa.
But it takes an extra spark. And grit. And courage. And, of course, hard work. If anyone tells they got lucky in the fashion business, don’t believe them.
ABOUT MARRISA WILSON NY:
Marissa Wilson, New York is a contemporary women’s wear brand based out of New York. The idea behind this brand is that they want their customers to “wear their soul.”
Marrisa, the creator and designer, is a first-generation Guyanese-American who uses the natural influences and inspiration of her Caribbean home as she hand-draws and hand-paints the prints that are eventually transformed into her unique designs.
She puts a lot of love into each print she develops, as she really wants the wearer to be able to bring out their own personality through her bold colors and soft, easy silhouettes.
Her company first launched in 2016. But in 2021, they started to show at New York Fashion Week and things really started to really evolve.
HOW IT STARTED:
Marissa wanted to be a fashion designer from a really young age. Her mom is a creative person, and she comes from an entrepreneurial family.
She was raised in a family-owned business growing up. So, it didn’t seem crazy to get out of school and start a business right away.
When she was in the second grade, her mom was upholstering the cushions and curtains around their house, so there were little scraps of fabric all around and she started playing with them. Surrounded by her Barbies, she started draping and pinning and that’s when her mom first taught her how to hand sew.
She eventually went to school to study fashion, majoring in fashion design with a double minor in fashion merchandising and product development.
She then went on to study under some of the best in the business, doing internships and undergrad work in the industry and gaining a lot of experience as she was building the idea of her business.
She worked for companies such as J. Mendel and Oscar de la Renta, and has the affiliate experience, as well, with mass brands like DKNY, and Calvin Klein, and hip brands like Rag and Bone. Having all these experiences in her back pocket, she made a point to take in everything that she could learn along the way for her own business. This really put her on the path to entrepreneurship.
From being present in the design room, the fabric rooms and onto product development, she was able to really understand the entire supply chain process.
“So, going from that process from how do you take a concept that you’ve developed into a design? How do you bring it to life, not just in that first sample, but also how to make it production-friendly, and how to make it so that other people can actually wear those clothes? This is what I learned early.” – Marissa Wison
THE TARGET AUDIENCE:
The MARRISA WILSON NY client is anyone who feels like they want to push the bounds of what they add to their wardrobe. This woman wants to wear something different, but they don’t want it to be fussy, or have difficulty figuring out how to do that.
Marrisa likes to make sure that the wearer feels they can be themselves and bring out their own shine and their own light through her clothes.
She is intentional to design without ego. It’s not about her creating a perfect archetype of who she wants to wear her clothes. What she really enjoys is when someone is trying on an interesting color or print they might not have tried before, and then there’s a sort of ease when they think: Hmmm, this kind of thing works for me!
The art is really through the textiles, she feels. Marissa loves interesting prints, embroidery techniques, and beading. You might have a favorite pair of jeans or a favorite blazer that you might be able to pair her designs with.
She hopes her clients can incorporate Marrisa Wilson NY into their existing wardrobes by allowing people to have the freedom to step outside the box by adding something really special, without the fear of going too far.
DOWN TO BUSINESS:
As an artist, Marrisa can always create spectacular print designs. But as a business owner, she must consider production, supply and demand, and what customers are looking for.
Issues like sizing, style trends, manufacturers, textile suppliers, sustainability, buyer demand, and buyer purchasing habits all factor into each and every creation.
Marrisa credits a Made-to-Order business model on a part of her success. Allowing customers to choose which designs they want before they are manufactured allows her to collect information on what her clients want. Why produce an entire season of styles without knowing what customers will buy? Instead, she puts her designs out there and produces what her customers are indicating they want via pre-orders.
Through this process she has learned things like the importance of deep sizing options. Her buyers have indicated size trends and demand well before production, so she knows exactly the size range she needs to produce.
They have partnered with an agent overseas, who makes sure that all their brand values are carried throughout the product development. MARRISA WILSON NY works with factories that do small batches. These not massive factories. They work with mills that can take their smaller batch runs.
Marrisa loves these relationships because these are partners who are looking to grow with them, and who are doing it in a small, controlled, and sustainable way.
Marrisa and Holly spend the rest of this episode discussing her latest collection, with influences from her Guyanese heritage: think of tropical trees and palm trees, and an easy-breezy lifestyle.
She is also planning her upcoming wedding (in Seville) and she is NOT designing her own dress. #YASSSGURL
And finally, Marrisa is already working on her 2024 collection, and consider what Fashion Week might bring. We cannot wait!!
In her final thoughts, Marrisa shares her truth bomb, and that is to “Dress for Your Soul.” We couldn’t agree more. That’s what we preach. Wear what you love and make sure it’s Holly-approved..(duh).
Thank you for joining us on the FASHION CRIMES PODCAST!
Don’t forget to submit your fashion questions to Holly on our social. We may just pick your topic for our next episode and get a shout-out!
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Xoxo – Holly Katz,
Your Hostess with the Mostest, and, the ONLY Holly you need to know.