Artisan Interviews: Melissa Fleis

Tell us a little bit about how you started your career in fashion design.
I didn’t make the move to become a fashion designer until I was 27 – the same year I learned how to sew. I went back to school to get my MFA in fashion design so I could learn the entire process of designing, constructing, and producing garments from beginning to end.

Describe your workspace. A well designed, white walled, clean, inspirational space.

Melissa Fleis Melissa Fleis

What was your time like on Project Runway?
Crazy and unforgettable. The show not only challenged me creatively – it also challenged my skills, and my abilities to take and resolve criticism from professionals in the industry.

Can you give us a little insight into your creative process? My creative process differs for each collection. Sometimes it’s the individual garment that hits me first, and other times it’s the inspiration. The next step is always creating a cohesive mood board, and then sketching out my designs. Sometimes you can sketch more than 25 ideas before settling on the right design.

What does a typical day look like for you? No day is the same in this industry, especially when you are the owner and creative director. One thing that remains the same though – is every morning, I always make myself my coffee, and check my emails. From there it can vary from sketching, to sourcing fabrics – to running to factories or holding meetings.

Melissa Fleis Melissa Fleis

What are you currently working on?
I just finished my latest collection for 2016 called, Resurface.

Talk about one of your most treasured projects. One of my most treasured projects has to be my finale collection for Project Runway, and showing it at New York Fashion Week.

Where do you pull inspiration from? Modern architecture, and early 20th Century German Art Movements always work for me. Ultimately, the main theme, color story, and inspiration can hit me at anytime depending upon where I am, who I’m with, or a random image/artist I find online or in a book.

Artisan Interviews: Melissa Fleis

Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
I’d love to see my brand go global and have a few stores of my own. I’m also interested in other vessels for design, like interiors and collaborations with other artists.

Lastly, any life advice? Work with the fear.