Tell me a little bit about yourself and your brand- what defines who you are and the work you are doing?
Well, I am 25 years old, born and raised in Columbus Ohio. I am a mother, entrepreneur, fashionista and alumna of THE Ohio State University. MikeishaDache Styled and Penned has been a dream of mine for about 7 years. I initially enrolled at OSU as an English major because I knew I wanted to write, but I loved fashion as well. After some bouncing around I landed on Fashion and Retail Studies as a major and took some communication classes to feed my writing interest. People encouraged me to start a site, I would get on different platforms and I would hate the product and never put it out. I like to think my experiences have defined me, as cliche as it sounds. I live by “Grow through what you go through”. A quote that speaks to perseverance and strength. two things that hold a significant place in my life after the passing of my mother and the birth of my son.
How would you describe your personal style? How has that translated to the creation of MikeishaDache Styled & Penned?
I think about this question a lot actually and all these words come to mind because I like to be very versatile in what I wear. You may see me in heels and the next day in Jordans. I would describe it as minimalistic. I don’t like to do too much, but sometimes I do love mixing patterns and textiles that don’t necessarily belong together. As far as my site aesthetic it’s very minimalistic, but also has pops of color and patterns mostly in the photography and event fliers. That’s pretty much my style translating right over to my brand. It was important for me to showcase my personal style, to give others ideas on what to wear or to even encourage people to ask me questions in regards to their personal style.
Who are some of the people who motivate you in your field? I know you’ve worked closely with fashion designer Kevin Black and can imagine the work you’ve done with him being super influential for you.
Absolutely! I have followed Kevin since about 2012 and initially saw him style Angela Simmons and Naturi Naughton. At the time it was like, “Wow someone in Columbus is doing what I want to do.” Through a few organizations in college, I was able to meet and work with him briefly. I had an impact on him that I wasn’t aware of until he contacted me and I couldn’t believe it. I joined his team and have been able to witness his work ethic and drive to be the best. He truly roots for me in everything I do, even when it’s not related to The Kevin Black Collection, that itself is motivation. For someone so busy to still find time to cheer you on and show you the ropes. I’m forever grateful. Also, I am extremely motivated by Kahlana Barfield. She’s an editor for InStyle, a mother, fashionista, and a socialite. You know as kids we grow up and say we want to be doctors and lawyers. If I knew who she was then I would have probably said I wanted to be her when I grew up. While everyone’s path is different, seeing someone who looks like me lead a similar life although on a larger scale, is inspiring and reminds me that it’s possible.
What was the motivation behind creating a site that goes a bit beyond fashion and styling (with local meetups highlighted and interviews with local creatives on their own work)?
I’ve had so many supporters throughout the years no matter what I was I was doing in my personal life or what I was involved in. A lot of those people are event curators, artists, designers, etc. so I wanted to reciprocate the support they have shown me beyond retweets and likes. It was important to highlight those events and give them more exposure. It also provides people with a one-stop shop for upcoming events instead of searching high and low for plans. Same with the interviews, I am very big on exposure for the “little” people. The people making the most noise even though they may not be at that celebrity status. It’s important for me to tell their stories and for people to hear and maybe be inspired.
Describe the culture of Columbus— what makes it special? How has the culture of your hometown influenced your path as a creator?
I’d like to start out by saying I love my city. I always have, but I found a different type of love for it. The growth I’ve seen in the last few years has been amazing and inspiring. To see so many creatives driving the city and opening up opportunities for others is so great to see. That’s what makes Columbus special. While there will always be competition wherever you go, the people in this city are big on collaborating – that only makes this city stronger. I would attend events of course, but I wasn’t as involved in the culture of Columbus until the last 2-3 years. Being a part of local projects, planning local events, freelance writing for local publications – it’s all been very influential. So much that I wanted to translate the collaborative culture within my very own brand.
What advice do you have for other creators who may not be situated in “traditional” big fashion markets but still want to go after their dreams?
My advice for other creators is to find what you truly love and rework it in a way that is unique and meaningful to you and will be fresh for your audience. That’s what I’m doing with my site. Although, you may not be in New York or California the opportunities in your own background are endless if you just take advantage of them. Find your place in the environment around you.
Equally important, how do you balance the responsibilities that come with being a 25-year-old up-and-coming brand developer as well as the ones that come with being a mother? Self-care tips for other young women wearing multiple hats?
Sometimes it’s a little difficult trying to get work done at home and my son is doing own thing. I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered being able to balance, but being a mother, full-time student and having a full-time job simultaneously taught me a lot about balancing my personal life and work life. I’m a very visual person, which probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but I work off a calendar for EVERYTHING. Appointments, interviews, vacations – you name it it’s on my calendar. That helps me a lot. As far as self-care I would say take some time for yourself. I find that sometimes we get so wrapped up in all that we have to do for others (family, friends, relationships, jobs, etc.) that we forget to breathe and enjoy ourselves. For mothers especially I think it’s important to take 2-3 times a month just to be YOU and not just a mother. My best friend reminded me that I wasn’t just a mother, I was still Mikeisha and that was okay to still be me. That stuck with me, so I like to pass that on to other mothers.
If you could go back and give 18-year-old you one piece of advice regarding your career journey, what would it be?
I would tell 18-year-old me, that it will all come together on its own time. Not to let your perfectionism drive you crazy and not to let your commitments keep you in places that no longer help you grow.
What’s next on the horizon for your brand? Events or projects we should be on the lookout for this summer?
Right now I’m focused on a lot of local interviews and events, as well as, expanding beyond my local reach. I am going to be bringing some content from bigger cities very, very soon so look out for that. Later this year I will be working on some collabs with some great media groups. I was quite nervous about my site, so right now I’m just happy about its existence. I want everything it is and will be to happen organically, so I’m going to continue to put myself and my brand out there and see what happens!
Just for kicks:
Erykah or Lauryn?: Erykah, because I was in love with On and On as a child.
Block or Stiletto heel?: Block for sure!
Ulta or Sephora?: Sephora, only because I can actually try on products and most things at Ulta you cannot.