Where It All Began - How MISCHA Started
Posted on 01 March 2018
As told by our Founder Michelle.
The story of how I started a handbag brand always seems to amaze and draw admiration from listeners. I suppose it's because they rarely see the frantic oh-my-god-why-am-I-doing-this moments, behind the scenes disasters, nor the stupid mistakes made. These lessons have invariably become great antidotes for all the talks and panels I seem to do now.
Back to where it all began; my journey with MISCHA as you know it today, has been an interesting one to say the least, and happened quite accidentally. The story of the iconic hexagon print and the handbags we're best known for, had its beginnings long before I knew I'd grow up to become an entrepreneur, and can't be told without a bit of nostalgia.
Many people who have newly discovered us won't know the story of our signature print and how it hails from my fascination with Japanese design. One of the first memories I have of my interest in Japanese art and culture, was in primary school, when I read a book called Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. It turned into an obsession with mastering every origami animal possible and much later, an expensive habit of collecting vintage obi and kimono.
While working at my first job, I started a passion project of hand-stitched clutches with the vintage obis that I'd collected. It brought me around the world and back to Japan to source more and more fabrics. The little girl that wanted to make beautiful things and travel was fulfilled.
By 2008, I wasn't getting enough sleep and more women than ever wanted my obi clutch bags. I can't complain really but something had to give. So I quit my job, MISCHA was born that year and will be turning 10 later this year! Not having studied design nor business made setting up a fashion brand seem like an outrageous idea. And contrary to what most entrepreneurs would tell you, I'd say, think very carefully and say good-bye to peaceful nights of sleep! It's akin to have a new born.
After years with beautiful vintage fabrics and growing my relationships with the kimono dealers, the search began to create something iconic that belonged to MISCHA, like all fashion houses had. I traveled to find inspiration, researched my beloved brands and took cues from the best dressed women with timeless style. Looking into my photo archives for ideas, I noticed for the first time that nearly 70% of my fabrics had the kame hexagon design in them. It was sitting right under my nose the whole time. (The hexagon represents the sea tortoise's shell and is a symbol of longevity.) And that was it!
The hexagon and its inherent symbolism represent values I personally hold and became the identity of MISCHA. After many iterations, I created a basic unit of four interlocking hexagons, the building block of our print as you know it today. We launched the Travel Series in 2010; our first collection to feature the brand's signature hexagon print on coated canvas tote bags.