Who's That Gal: Milicent Armstrong of Artemis Design Co.
You know when you see a friend (or complete stranger) wearing something that you decide you just HAVE to have? Well, Milicent of Artemis Design Co. is the curator of fabrics and designer of those items! Needless to say, we each ordered an Artemis item mere days after our interview! JUGs <3 kilim fo' sho! Read on to find out more about this woman of the world!
How did your education influence your current career path?
I’ve always been interested in art and design ever since I was a child. Painting, drawing, sewing and other forms of art were encouraged for my sister and I. In college I went on to study Art History and French, which afforded me with the opportunity to live in France for a little while. Living in France and learning to get on in another culture was an education in itself. It definitely helped me to get past barriers of shyness, since I was so out of my comfort zone. I also learned to appreciate good design, art and “the art of life” while abroad. Art History is something that I enjoyed in college and I think that it has helped me in my current career field. Most importantly, I think that learning about art enriches your life, and teaches you about world history through a different lens.
We read that your mother owns a jewelry store, how did this lead to starting your own brand?
I grew up working in my mom’s store, Galatea, so I was frequently accompanying her to trade shows and being exposed and getting to meet the many designers that she would sell. Meeting women in the line of work that I hoped to go into made the prospect seem more attainable from a young age. My mother, sister and I traveled to Turkey on a buying trip where I was first exposed to the beauty of the textiles in the Middle east. Of course, the day to day retail work was extremely good experience and I think it is essential for anyone who wants to get pursue a fashion career.
What was it like starting your own business at such a young age?
Well, I think that if I had known I was starting a business I might have been intimidated at the prospect. I went into it more organically, just making and selling things that I love and would want to wear myself. I never wrote a business plan or anything like that. This was actually while I was taking graduate classes at the Boston Architectural College (BAC) in Interior Design, with a focus on textiles. Then it just kind of evolved on it’s own. If I had known how much work it would take, I probably would have been intimidated (laughs).
Are you continuing to pursue interior design? Or are you shelving it for this?
It’s definitely a passion of mine, I love interior design. I have a scrapbook from all of my favorite editorials in ID magazines, and I am constantly reading and tearing out pages. It’s mostly the textiles, colors, and textures that I love, rather than the spacial design; although I have a deep respect and appreciation for the architectural side of things.
So do you have a business plan now?
Not really (laughs), I know what I want to do and I’m always working toward my goals, but no defined business plan exists.
Do you have to think about import tax and stuff?
Yeah, it’s a pretty complicated process and very expensive. You have to hire a broker to get you through the process, and there are heavy duties that the government collects. It’s always a relief when my shipment finally arrives.
How has being in Boston influenced your brand? We don’t see a lot of designers emerging from Boston.
I’ve lived in several different places; NY, Paris, Florida, and I always come home to Boston. It is where I’m from, my family and most of my friends are here so I have a great support system. Going to the beach, hiking, being outdoors in general and boating are some things that I can’t live without, and I have great access to all of these things just outside of the city. NYC is the capitol of fashion and it’s only a 4 hour train ride away, so if I need to go there to meet a buyer or business prospect it’s no problem.
Is it just you on your team?
It is, I have some friends how help out during busy times, and I have an intern, Amy, who is awesome, she’s a fashion design major. She’s been with me for two years now.
Has working abroad presented you with any challenges?
Yes, so many challenges. There’s the language barrier, especially since I don’t speak much Turkish, just a few words, so that is a huge challenge. I'm working in Morocco now too (spring/summer 2015 collection of amazing leathers, suedes, and raffia). Most of the people I work with in Morocco don’t use email, they use What’sApp. There is a different sense of urgency, a big difference in expectations between us. The work that they do is absolutely beautiful, so in the end, I am happy to be patient throughout the process.
What is the story behind the name Artemis Design Co?
Well my mom’s store is named Galatia, who is a Greek goddess, so I wanted to do something similar and Greek themed. Artemis is the goddess of the hunt, so since that’s in line with my hunt of textiles, I thought it was a great name for the company, plus it’s a beautiful name
What is your overall advice for budding entrepreneurs? Even though you didn't take your business all that seriously in the beginning?
Just take it one step at a time, learn as you go. As I said, I didn't go into it thinking I would do this as my sole job eventually. If I had known the challenges I would face, I might have been too intimidated to begin.
You touched on your future goals, what is next for ADC?
Well, while in Morocco, I found some amazing carpets, so this spring, I’ll be introducing home goods to the line. They’ll be sold online so that prices can be kept reasonable.
Favorite meal in Boston
So difficult! I really love seafood. Legal seafood has always been a favorite of mine- it is so classic. They recently closed the Legal at the Prudential center for renovations, but they had dollar oysters and we would go there all the time. Toro, Coppa are incredible, Taco Tuesdays at Tremont 647.
Favorite trend/celeb on instagram:
Justina Blakeny (painter, interior designer), Lulu DK, and Man Repeller
Next country to visit:
Somewhere in South America, I want to check out textiles there.
Isabel Marant, Temperly London, Opening Ceremony.
Because we’re a book club, what was the last book you read or currently reading?
The Ten Year Nap, I just picked it up again, it’s a modern feminist book, and the last book I read was American Psycho, which is way more disturbing than the movie! I wish I could un-read some of the passages from that book. Just finished Going Clear - thanks to a JUGs recommendation and LOVED it!