Dreaming about diving into the fast-paced industry of fashion? Well, you’re in luck! Our teen writer Maria had a chance to pick the mind of the creative Meewha Bell who has carved out her path in the inspirational field of fashion, style + art. See the gems of wisdom Meewha left behind with Maria after they chatted it up in NYC!
Who influenced you to choose this particular career path?
I can’t say one particular person influenced me. When I was going to college I didn’t know what I wanted to do and waited until the last minute to declare my major. Then when I declared it, it was too vague so when I graduated I still didn’t know what to do. At the time I had worked a lot in fashion and it became a passion of mine so I decided to pursue a career in fashion. So it wasn’t one particular person or thing that influenced me. It was more of me following my instincts and what I felt was right for me.
What do you love the most about Product Development and Design Innovation?
I like being creative. As a product developer you are the liaison. You are the business designer. You work heavily with the design. They bring ideas, designs, concepts and sketches to you. Then we work with everyone to bring them a product. After that we go through the edits and necessary changes. My absolute favorite part, however, is developing the design.
You had 3 internships, two in London and one in Paris. Which did you like the most? And which did you learn the most from?
I liked them both. They were both very different. The one in Paris was for a black designer originally from Chicago . He was in charge of the specialty collection for a small company called Lee Cooper. Working with them I was the design assistant. It was very hands on, which is something I loved because I got to be really creative. In London it was very different. It was more corporate and big scale. I made a lot of good connections, but it wasn’t as hands on. However, I built a really good relationship with our designer so I exposed myself to a lot of design projects. I put myself out there. I saw how big corporations would run their office. I learned the most from the London internship because I learned the importance of building relationships. I went from a little intern to an assistant manager. I learned that in order to succeed you really need to get out of your comfort zone.
What would be your dream company to work with at the moment and why?
A small company, but also a company that focuses on the artistry of fashion. I would love to work with companies like Marchesa which specializes in beautiful gowns. There is also a designer based in Greece who is amazing. He makes a lot of beautiful gowns and he recently started doing ready to wear that are based off his evening wear collection. They are interesting looking ready to wear dresses that you could wear in the daytime. Those are definitely two companies/people who I would love to work with.
Do you someday hope to have your own company?
I’d love to have my own company. If you’d ask me this five years ago or when I graduated college I would have said absolutely not. There’s pros and cons of having your own business, but after being in the fashion industry– in the job market period– and seeing how much time I put into work, I realized I really have to love what I’m doing. And what better way to love what I’m
doing if I’m doing it for myself. What’s the point of putting all your time and energy into something, just to make someone else’s dream come true. It’s definitely a lot of responsibility, but
it’s your baby. If your company is successful than so are you and everyone who helped create it.
But if something doesn’t go according to plan, then it’s your money and hard work gone to
waste. However, at the end of the day if you love what you’re doing it won’t even feel like work.
Has your minor in African, Black and Caribbean studies helped your career?
I don’t think it necessarily helped me in the design aspect, but it definitely helped me in the people, management and relationship aspect. In business you have to know how to deal with people. This minor helped me understand different people and the importance of understanding
Has there been a moment where you believed this career would be impossible to achieve or that you should try to pursue a different career path?
Many times. There was one specific moment where I felt like pursuing something different. The evolution of my job at that location had me thinking that maybe this wasn’t the right career for me. I wanted to be really creative all the time not just some of the time. I wanted to be be heavily involved in both the creative and business process. I like having my opinion heard. I like giving influential feedback and at the time I wasn’t expected to give my opinion so no one would ask me. It was incredibly frustrating on my part because I have a background in business. Some of the things they were doing didn’t sit well with me, but I had no say in the matter. I needed a different position or a different industry which is something I later realized.
If you had a chance to go back and do something different in your career, what would it be and why?
I definitely would have stayed overseas to explore more, but that’s pretty much it. All my bumps in the road have led me to where I’m now and everything has been a learning experience for me so I don’t really regret anything.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m going back to school and majoring in graphic design. I was torn between the graphic and fashion design, but the more I talked to people in both industries I felt graphic was the right place for me. It was something different. It was also something I feel I could tie back to the fashion industry. Many of my friends in the fashion field have told me I don’t need a degree in fashion. I personally know after taking classes in fashion that I like it enough to teach it to myself. I want to pursue something new.
Many people believe fashion design is one particular field. That there are not other areas to tap into. If that’s true, could you give examples of what you could do if you’re not actually designing in the fashion field?
There’s a lot of different avenues and ways to be creative. It all depends on what you like and are good at. We have fashion marketing,PR, technical design and so many other options. It’s also up to the company and its role. One thing I did learn is that you don’t necessarily have to be an artist to be in the fashion field. That was actually one of the reservations. I’m no artists and there are definitely some designers who can’t draw, but have great ideas. It’s all about finding ways to communicate your ideas and working with people who could draw.
If you had to give advice to any young person who might be interested in the fashion industry what advice would it be?
There are ways around things you may think you are not good at and could potentially stop you from succeeding in a particular industry. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to know what you’re good at and use that to your advantage. Be confident. Whatever you do, you will learn something. Whether it’s by hitting and missing or succeeding, it doesn’t hurt to just go for it.
Interview by Maria Miller