It has been a few months since I last wrote to you. We have been busy busy busy here at MC headquarters. For those who are just joining us on our journey, allow me to introduce myself. I am Marisa Corrado, the CEO of Mercury Clothiers.
I established the vintage-inspired clothing line just last year (in 2018). It has always been a dream of mine to own and manage a high fashion clothing company and one day I woke up and decided that I needed to stop dreaming and start doing!
I probably talked about starting my own business for years before actually doing it. It took that long for me to build up the courage and industry contacts, really. I also work full time for the federal government so time was a big factor. I didn’t think I would have the time to devote to a new endeavour like this.
Visiting the Designer & Manufacturer
Fast forward 4 months and here we are. It has been a great adventure so far.
Speaking of adventures, I recently had the best one of the journey. I made a trip to visit the clothing company that is designing and manufacturing our line — Wallace James.
For several months prior to the trip, I was on the phone, on video-conference calls, and emailing back and forth with the amazing ladies at Wallace James to refine the designs and choose fabrics.
I then planned a trip up to their HQ in Portland, Maine to see the first samples. I was a little concerned about taking a day off from my day job because, as I mentioned earlier, I work for the federal government and people don’t take days off. However, it was exciting to spend some time solely focused on Mercury Clothiers!
As a mother to two children, it also felt a bit like a vacation and vaguely decadent to spend some time just focused on myself.
I arrived in Portland, an idyllic little seaside town surrounded by Victorian-era homes. It is magical and the gorgeous architecture coincidentally fits the Mercury Clothiers’ classic, vintage style perfectly!
Despite the cold, I took some time before my appointment to walk around the city on a bracing and bright afternoon. The walk was a kind of mindfulness exercise where I tried to focus on the present, observe my surroundings, listen to the gulls circling the city streets and admire the 19th century buildings which seek to please the eye as much as to be functional.
This last principle reminded me why I have created Mercury Clothiers. In today’s age it seems women’s clothing has become focused on being functional, severe, and boring and has forgotten the beauty in a carefully placed seam, an unusual collar, or a splash of color.
Thank goodness I’m here, right? I’m only joking but when I saw the models wearing the sample pieces, I was overjoyed.
Fabrics, Fittings & Fun
At last my vision was becoming reality. Seeing it begin to take shape was amazing and exciting. Real women wearing the real designs — gasp! It really felt like the clothing line was progressing.
Working with the ladies of Wallace James, including their expert seamstress, to critically examine each line, each seam, the fall of every jacket and skirt on the different models, was an incredible experience.
I now understand why fast fashion can look so unfinished and misshapen. One of the jackets that looked lovely on the hanger needed major reworking to include being redone in a different fabric better suited to the structured nature of the design.
In fact, all of the jackets needed some adjusting with fit because of their exacting tailored design, but the trousers were perfect as is. Both of the models were wishing they could take a pair home! That was so good to hear.
The fabrics are luxuriously soft but also structured creating a cocoon feeling, or perhaps that wonder woman armor in the making.
The day was glorious. I only wished I had brought some bubbly to celebrate in the studio with everyone. I wanted to celebrate for everything that we have done to get to this point in making my dream a reality and also for my personal triumph in having the courage to do something outside of my comfort zone.
We still have some more work to do before the pieces are made. Color selection and second samples will be the next step!
Owning Small Business = Life-Changing
I have to say, if you asked me a year ago what I would be doing a year from then, I wouldn’t have said — running a fashion business. And even now that I am doing that, I never dreamed how life changing it would be.
It has been a transformative process for me personally as well as professionally.
I am proud of myself for taking this leap and for staying true to my dreams. Later on that night, after I returned to my hotel, I resisted the urge to order room service and retreat to watching guilty-pleasure home shows. I had looked at the room service menu and compared it to the menu for the hotel restaurant. I preferred the restaurant menu, but I was shy about dining alone.
Can you believe that? I am a career-oriented, strong-minded woman and I am afraid to eat alone.
It’s not that dining in a hotel restaurant is so adventurous, but for me it felt that way that night.
Once I arrived at the restaurant (with Tana French mystery in hand), I ordered a glass of that bubbly I had wanted earlier. When it arrived, it was a bit flat. I was again faced with a dilemma. Do I speak up for myself, or retire and live with something less (far less) than perfect?
Before I had embarked on this Mercury Clothiers journey, I would have lived with the flat wine and just ordered something else next. Not saying anything. How sad is that?
I again silently admonished myself and told myself this was ridiculous. I was paying for a glass of wine, it should be what I ordered. So I spoke up and asked for a fresh glass since this wine seems to have gone flat. The bartender replaced my glass gladly, apologizing and adding much more wine to my glass than my previous glass.
I couldn’t believe how easy that was and how incredible I felt to stand up for myself and ask for what I wanted.
Starting Mercury Clothiers has given me the opportunity to meet people whom I would have never have met otherwise. It has challenged me to work smarter, not harder. Be intentional. And I now have a new found realization that I can ask for what I want and not be treated as unreasonable.
Honestly, in all my dreams, I never thought this business would be as rewarding as it is. If you are on a similar journey or want to know more about mine, I am open to questions! Leave a comment below and I will get back to you.