DESIGNER | FOUNDER
What's your favorite F word?
“Foundation. In an industry where there is a lot of pressure to be all things to all people, it is important to stick to your vision and not deviate.”
Goop is obsessed. Netaporter and Moda Operandi line up for her collections. Michelle Waugh is the fearless designer behind her namesake sought after coat collection. With a career history at fashion powerhouses like Dior, she knows her way around thoughtfully curated pieces that stand the test of time. Mixing a fluid combination of modernity and timelessness, her designs are worn and adored by some of fashion’s biggest names. We’re in love with her collection just as much as we are with her beautiful spirit, and we’re so glad to tap into the mind of the creative genius behind the most stunning outerwear pieces in recent memory.
And a special thanks to Michelle for styling all our Fierce Females this Fall in her signature trench coats with our Fall 2019 accessories collection. Women in trenches!
TAJ: What rules need to be broken next for women to reach their full potential?
Michelle: “Let's break the stereotype that if you have a creative mind you don’t have a business mind. Creativity is what fuels the big ideas, challenges our way of thinking and opens the door to new business opportunities, but many creatives in fashion also understand the importance of cultivating a money-positive mindset. I break through this by really engaging myself with our customers, being the boots on the ground so I can hear first-hand what they love and what their concerns are so I can make the right changes. I’ve also really committed time to holding myself accountable to my business plan. Really taking the time to fully understand the fundamentals of how it all works.”
TAJ: You create the most exquisite collections—what would you say inspires your designs the most?
Michelle: “Honestly my life as a working mom in New York City is definitely a big part of my design inspiration. I’m really creating clothing for me. I also love looking at vintage and thinking of ways to re-create some of the elements I fall in love with into more modern and bold silhouettes. I have always loved the oversized outerwear silhouettes of the 1940’s and 1950’s. I also find a lot of inspiration in textiles, architecture and my time spent in Hudson Valley. Nature is definitely a source [of inspiration] for me as well. ”
TAJ: You're at a cocktail party, how do you meet new people and break the ice?
Michelle: “I usually will show interest in the person I’m talking to and let them explain things to me I don’t know. I figure it’s a win-win, they get to talk and I get to learn."
Rules I break:
I did not go to design school. I’ve been self-taught and mentored which is not typically what you see in this industry.
TAJ: What's the best compliment someone can give a woman?
Michelle: “You are smart.”
TAJ: What does being fierce mean to you?
Michelle: “Standing your ground when the going gets tough. Looking to better yourself and the world around you while respecting yourself and your limits."
TAJ: Advice for other Fierce Females?
Michelle: "Be authentic and nurture your relationships. It takes community to succeed. If you are authentic that community will come to you, and if you nurture them, they will fight for you.”
TAJ: What kind of accessories do you love? How do accessories make you feel?
Michelle: “During the day I keep it very minimal. I pretty much only wear my wedding ring. In the evening, I love a good statement earring or cocktail ring. Accessories make me feel great! I always find it to be that extra thing I need to express myself, complete an outfit and make a statement."
TAJ: We say accessories are like the modern girls' armor. Put them on and your super powers come alive. What are your super powers?
Michelle: “I would say my super power is resilience and sensitivity to what other people are thinking and feeling."
TAJ: If there's one thing people take away after meeting you, what do you hope that is?
TAJ: Lipstick or gloss?
TAJ: We always say the world is bursting with talent - so we travel to every corner in search of new talented designers. New York is bursting with energy, events, and things to do. What’s your favorite thing to do or favorite restaurant to go to?
Michelle: “There is nothing like New York’s energy! I really thrive on it. I have two daughters who are 3 and 4 and I love bringing them for dim sum at Nom Wah Tea Parlor and tacos at Chelsea Market. We also sneak in brioche from Le Merveilleux de Fred and love the open studio on Saturdays at the Whitney. I walk everywhere with them. When it comes to date night, we are big fans of Don Angie in the village, Pastis, Mimi, and the bar at Babbo. When I’m out with girlfriends or a larger group I love Cote in Flatiron.”
A true connector and supporter of women, Randi brings the entire Fierce Female crew together in celebration:
Pictured: Andrea Siegel co-founder The Accessory Junkie, Katya Libin co-founder Heymama, Michelle Waugh Founder Michelle Waugh, Marika Frumes Founder HER USA
WOMEN IN TRENCHES: Special thanks to NYC designer and Fierce Female Michelle Waugh for our favorite trench coats of the season. Randi wears the Randi Earring from Fall 2019 (yes, totally named after her!)