DESIGNER PROFILE: MONICA MEI
Fashion Designer. World Traveler. Entrepreneur. Business Mogul. Industry Pioneer. Artist. These are just a few of the titles that apply to the talented Monica Mei.
While it may seem like she’s pushing herself in too many directions, each part of Monica’s journey inevitably circles back to one purpose: her desire to create her own unique brand of fashion experiences.
THE SHOP SOCIETY
Veronica Hufana: I was there for your presentation at the Hardrock Café in October for The Shop Society. Can you tell us more about it?
Monica Mei: Essentially, The Shop Society is a mobile application for retailer and their sales associates to be able to recommend shoppable product. It’s still in it’s beta testing phase. We’re chatting with really great sales associates and we’re trying to make it easier for them to make recommendations for their customers. The way that the app works is that the sales rep can open it up, scan in a product by snapping a photo or scanning in the barcode, and then mobily send the item as a recommendation to specific people or clients. That person will then get a pop-up notification on their mobile device about the item. They can then choose to tell the sales rep to put it on hold, or they can purchase the item right then and there using their mobile device!
VH: So you Mentioned that this app is primarily a tool for sales reps and associates along with consumers. Could the app be used by Personal Stylists or Image Consultants as well?
MM: Absolutely. It’s a great way in our digital world to provide great personalized customer service without having to rush out to a store or showroom.
WHAT I’M WEARIN’
VH: another venture you have in the works is What I’m Wearin. Tell us more about the evolution of Whatimwearin.com
MM: The purpose has changed over the years. It was the world’s first style-sharing app, but now there’s a lot! But the mistake I made in the past was I went down to the valley and pitched the idea a little too soon. I ended up speaking in front of other entrepreneurs thinking they were all just investors. So lesson learned! Now, it’s being pivoted and we’re innovating it again. The commonality is that you can still share your style story, but we’re focusing now on where urban music meets fashion. My partners, have worked with people like Shady records. So we’re matching together what we do best, and hopefully producing something that people will like. We’re still in the process of changing it, so I can’t say too much just yet.
VH: There are so many different genres of music. Why did you feel that urban music was the right collaboration for you?
MM: Don’t be fooled by my Josh Grobin concert tickets! I love music in general but I am a big fan of urban music. I also feel that entertainment is often inspired by fashion and vice versa. So it’s definitely a beautiful collaboration. Urban music stems so much from culture in society, and in that respect I feel it’s a lot like fashion in that aspect. Fashion is a reflection of society and culture and different sub-cultures. And if music, especially urban music, is a huge expression of that, then fashion can also be expressive of these things.
AIME LUXURY Monica’s first love of course is her premier fashion brand, AIME Luxury. In keeping with the AIME ethos, “Love Yourself. Love Others. Love Luxury”, she takes a poised and responsible approach to each aspect of her clothing line. Key features of AIME Luxury pieces include:
- Comfort: Incorporates knit side panels for tightly-worn pieces in order to “expand” with the wearer
- Versatility: Pieces can easily transition from office daywear to stylish nightwear
- Eco-friendly: Uses plant-based fibres that are smooth to the touch. As well, some pieces that can be worn in multiple ways.
VH: As a designer, there is a tendency to create for yourself, working off of whatever moves or inspires you. However, please comment on some of the considerations you take when designing for your consumers.
MM: Well, in the case of the Jolie dress (from my most recent collection), it was designed in response to many of my customers asking for a dress with sleeves; so they got it! It’s a seemingly conservative silhouette, but it has sheer cut-outs on the sleeves and further down on the legs. So it’s sexy and elegant at the same time.
VH: Most of your colourful or patterned pieces are also available in a classic black alternative. Is that another aspect that you take into consideration when designing?
MM: Yes. You can’t go wrong with classic black and consumers will always look for that option. However, it’s also an eco-chic initiative of mine in terms of the length of wear. I didn’t want to create “fast fashion” pieces that are trendy for the moment and you end up throwing away, that are disposable.
VH: Now it’s interesting that you’ve touched on the term “fast fashion” when you have been noted by Kelly Drennen, Director of Fashion Takes Action, as “a pioneer of slow fashion in Canada”.
MM: I really seek to design pieces that women can still find fresh and exciting, but also something that they can keep in their closets for seasons to come. My hope is that women can wear my pieces for years; that they’ll still find them exciting and can be easily updated with the latest accessories or hairstyles.
ECO-CHIC AT AIME BOUTIQUE
VH: Can you comment further on some of AIME’s eco-friendly initiatives?
MM: In addition to using plant-based fibres such as 100% viscose in my upcoming line, all of my clothing is made in Canada. It’s not only perfect for me in terms of monitoring quality control, but how my products are made is very important. So in addition to being environmentally friendly, my brand is also socially conscious. By producing in Canada I can ensure that my product is being made in an ethical way and I am also supporting the Canadian economy. All of this is completely in line with my company philosophy for responsible luxury at an affordable contemporary price point.
VH: Your eco-chic initiatives and philosophy on luxury and longevity is also carried forward in your upcoming travel collection.
MM: Yes. This collection was inspired by my trip to Instanbul. I love to travel the world, and I love to pack light. So the key to this is having versatile pieces that can take you from day to night, and also pieces that can be worn in multiple ways. For example, the travel collection maxi dress can be worn front to back, with or without the 2-sided sash, and is also reversible, using a black and white neutral pattern on one side, and a colourful floral on the other side.
Monica puts great care in selecting the brands and products she carries in her AIME Boutique. Like her clothing, she has chosen fellow Canadian brands that are equally eco-friendly, socially conscious, and of course, undeniably stylish.
- live beautiful. jewellery, http://livebeautiful.co/
- Province Apothecary organic skincare, http://provinceapothecary.com/
- Sartoria up-cycled cashmere, http://www.sartoria.ca/
- By Ropena halos, http://www.ropenastylist.com/
Also, Monica supports local talent is by hosting different guest pop-up shops or launch events every month for other emerging artists. This is yet another way that she pays the AIME ethos (Love yourself. Love Others. love luxury.) forward!
VH: So to recap, you have three flourishing ventures, are involved in several boards and committees, and you continue to do your part in nurturing up and coming talent. You are quite the renaissance woman in the sense that you are juggling a lot! How do you keep it all together?
MM: It’s interesting, I have a Pinterest account, and one of my boards is called “AIME words to live by”. One of the quotes on there says, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” I know this and I’m trying to learn this! But at the same time I have an insatiable curious appetite and I like doing so many different things. I know what it’s like to be a young designer trying to make it so I’m sensitive to others that share the same drive to achieve great things. So I want to get involved and help as much as I can.
From the garments she makes to the services she provides, Monica Mei seeks to incorporate quality, longevity and ease of use for maximum style output. Without a doubt, we’re definitely looking forward to what she’s got in store for us next!