Photographed by: Katie Jameson | Interview of: Miranda Bennett
How did you get started?
That’s a little bit challenging to answer only because it can be hard to know where to pinpoint a beginning. There was the start when I was a child and lived for my apparel, naming dresses, changing multiple times a day, or making clothing for my dolls. There was High School when I began making all of my own clothing as method of self expression and a general cure for teen angst / ennui. There was my first collection which launched in NYC in ‘06 and was manufactured in the Garment Center for a loyal following of independent boutiques. All of those stages have felt like a beginning and precursor to where I find the line now, in its current state of MBS, where the emphasis is on creating ethically manufactured, core styles executed in premium, natural fabrics and tinted with plant dye formulas that we create in-house.
What influences you? / Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere! Art, nature, travel. It’s rare that there is a concrete cause and effect in the sense that I don’t ever say “this collection is inspired by the Bauhaus or the ‘20s or X, Y, Z…” I think that is a totally valid manner of storytelling in fashion and find it super compelling to look on to. For me, though, designing has always been a more abstract distillation of forms, colors and moods. I like clothing that can be worn differently according to the wearer’s intention, with silhouettes that are dictated by a person’s form. Now, I often also find my starting place in color.
How do you balance your personal time + work? / How do you create separation?
It’s an ongoing challenge for me, one that I honestly struggle with. I am trying to get better at unplugging and giving myself true vacations, where it gets trickier is with the accessibility we now have through our smartphones and the constant sense of pressure to communicate to an audience through social media. As an independent business owner, I think there is always a level of integration that you accept, because the personal becomes the professional (and vice versa) at a certain point.
What keeps you motivated?/ Why do you love doing this?
My team, one thousand percent. And the positive feedback from our customers. I feel lucky every single time I walk into my studio. I feel like the more time I have spent with this work, the better the outcome - as a designer, as a manager, as a person - and I am constantly searching for moments of growth and questioning our methods in search of improvements. I could spend all of my time just on the color development side; the sampling phase (when we establish our new color formulas) at the beginning of each Edition is my all time favorite period (other than seeing and wearing new samples for the first time). In general though, being this close to the production process, both the dyeing and the sewing, keeps things exciting, fresh and inspiring because there is always time to interact, to play and to brainstorm as it all goes on around you.
Where do you see yourself in 2-5 years? / What’s next for your brand?
A little bigger, a little older and, hopefully, happy. My long term dream for the studio is to acquire land outside of Austin and plant an arboretum of native trees to be used for dyeing, an educational resource, and sanctuary. I see our dye operation moving to its own, off-site facility in the next 2-5 years either way, with larger vessels, more space and room to splash around without as much carefulness as we have to exhibit now (while sharing space with our processing and cutting tables). It would be incredible to have the space, time, and person power to dye and sell our fabrics by the yard, also. I look forward to more collaborations with artists and designers through our Zero Waste initiative, which is a series of partnerships with others who utilize our fabric remnants for new products (so far a tapestry, pillows, and a weaving in the works). All that being said, I find myself very happy at the moment and think finding a way to maintain the quality of our work with the gratitude I currently feel for all of it would be just fine.