So first of all – spoiler alert – I’m a real person! For those of you who already know me, this is of course no surprise. However, at least once a day someone walks into the store and is surprised to hear that Michele Varian is a real person, responsible for the world that they’ve stepped into.
I moved to New York City to attend Parsons School of Design from Detroit’s East Side in 1986. I became a fashion designer, then when I started my own company, a home textile and pillow designer. I now make lighting, design furniture, create wallpaper, do licensing projects for other companies and am still producing my own line of textiles; I am an independent and self-financed design, manufacturing, distribution and retail shop owner, and… I’m a tenants’ rights advocate, micro–manufacturing advocate, mentor, and a partner in other companies (Detroit Built, and retail-sharing platform Guesst).
I am my brand – Michele Varian – and I am more than my brand.
I’ve seen a lot and learned a lot (A LOT!) over the years. From witnessing the evolution of industry, “small” entrepreneurship, and craftsmanship in both Detroit and in my longtime neighborhood of SoHo, to witnessing my own company grow, there’s been an inevitable thread of changing climates: social, political, ethical, corporate, creative.
In today’s – ahem – “distinct” climate, we’re all ripe for more growth. You don’t know what you don’t know; and what you do know, you should share.
With all this in mind, I’m beginning a new, permanent series of online posts. This is Design Talk by MV. The actual Michele Varian: the shop owner and businesswoman, the tenants’ rights advocate, the business partner, and the designer.
These thoughts will extend beyond just design. I want to share the knowledge I’ve been privileged with by experience, folly, success, and mentorship. I knew the design industry before the digital disruption and am flourishing in it afterwards. Design Talk by MV is for the creator, the ideas person, the entrepreneur, the retailer, the big thinker, the pragmatist, and the artist in all of us alike.
It’s back to school time not just for the students. We all have learning to do, and my hope is for these musings, tales of my personal growth, and pointers for retail etiquette can provide a guide for every aimless, fledgling, and growing self-starter out there.
Step into my world and inside my head! This business is my passion. I look forward to sharing that passion with you.
As told to Emily R. PellerinStay tuned for next week, when I’ll recount a tale of major risk-taking earlier on in my career, and reveal the takeaways I carry with me still today.