There are few things as inspiring and magnetic as the sparkle in the eyes of someone truly passionate. That was what I noticed about Lisa Miller when we first met. Well, that and the amazing leggings she was wearing, which were of her own design, of course. Lisa loves what she’s doing and does it well. Not only does she run a successful accessory line, Reclaimed Wreckage, she also recently won the 2012 RAWard Fashion Designer of the Year, which helped launch her apparel line, LissMee Apparel. Lisa has a keen sense of design and true joie de vivre, which is enough to make this girl unstoppable. Check out my interview with Lisa below to get to know a little more about her. And just try not to obsess over every single piece from her current collection.
Lisa: It started in Kindergarten. I was singing a solo for school and got so excited that I wanted to look perfect. So I decided to make my own dress. I found some white fabric, started cutting and, having no idea how to sew, I stapled the pieces together and voila, I was a fashion designer. I have always wanted to add beauty to what’s around me. From cosmetology school to design school, I have surrounded myself with fashion. I officially started designing in 2008 when I had Boston. I couldn’t find a diaper bag I liked that wasn’t several hundred dollars, so I channeled my 6-year-old self and took over. I made my first diaper bag and my accessory line, Reclaimed Wreckage, was born.
You create your pieces for Reclaimed Wreckage using materials like recycled rubber inner tubes and warped vinyl records. What came first, a desire to create sustainable goods or did you see the design potential in discarded materials?
When it came time to put together the diaper bag, I knew I wanted it to be different. I had seen a few that had interesting graphics that didn’t scream “this is for a mom!” Inspired by that but not wanting to spend a hundreds of dollars on something I knew I could create, I went searching for another type of sturdy material that could take the place of canvas. That’s when I came across billboard vinyl. It was sturdy, had graphic design imprints built in, and was inexpensive.
As far as your apparel line, LissMee Apparel, you utilize knits in many of your pieces. Knit is great for comfort, but you’ve created pieces that are anything but casual. What drew you to knit fabrics when designing?
First and foremost, knit works with a variety of shapes and sizes. The flexible nature allows me to design freely without needing to pigeon hole my clientele’s figure. The other reason is the comfort you mentioned. Women’s clothes are often designed just for the look, not for the feel, especially on the runway. I love it when my models are surprised at just how comfortable the pieces are while always staying stylish.
Your design aesthetic is a very unique mix of strong and sensual without being overly done up. Is this also a good reflection of you?
It’s funny that you ask that because I have never really thought about it that way. But I think that I design for confident, daring women, because that is what I am aspiring to be.
Your fiance, Jon, recently quit his day job to focus on Reclaimed Wreckage and Lissmee Apparel. What has the dynamic been between the two of you now focusing on your design career? How do you balance work and home life?
People do that?! Coco Chanel once said, “There is a time for work, and a time for love. That leaves no other time.” Only, we have three kids, too. What Jon and I have going for us is the ability to communicate even when one of us feels differently than the other. Our differences do not define or divide us. Jon brings with him a long business background to compliment my creative drive.
There’s no question you’ve been successful in following your passion and creating a living designing. What do you think has contributed to your success?
Literally every single aspect of every single day involves work for me, because I love it. When we take the family to the zoo I have Jon take a picture of “me” while making sure to emphasize the cute skirt the stranger behind me is wearing. When we all go to the library, I’m perusing design books while the kids pick out their books. Jon and I watch TV shows on mute because the plot is horrible but the fashion is amazing. Everything is inspiration and I’m always looking for it.
What does the future hold for Reclaimed Wreckage and LissMee Apparel?
The immediate future holds a runway show for RAW on April 25th. We’re also spending some time getting our accessories into new stores around the country, as well as keeping up with exposure that LissMee has received. Ultimately we hope to become a full apparel line with bridal, kids, and men’s fashion. We want to do it all!