According to Michelle Pang, setting up a small business in Vancouver is easy. Getting the work in front of people is the hard part.
The owner and designer behind illustrated scarf brand Misheo started dabbling in wearable art after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design. "As a formally trained illustrator, I have always found joy in colours, textures, and shapes," she tells V.I.A over email. "One year, I started to make felted accessories to sell on Etsy, just to try out the platform, and I soon discovered my passion for making scarves."
Pang phased out felt accessories to focus on printing drawn designs on natural fabrics but says she still carries on her inspiration from felting to her illustrated scarf designs.
"In a world of fast fashion, I find that having something made slowly and carefully is a refreshing change," says Pang.
To help her business get noticed she launched her own e-commerce site, as many Etsy makers do, and registered in craft fairs, trade shows, and events. "I also reached out to retailers that I thought would be interested in carrying my work and tried to build connections to help my business grow," she recalls.
It paid off because Misheo is now carried in boutiques across Canada and in the fabulous New York indie store Wolf & Badger.
The Misheo scarves also reflect another of Pang's other passions, animals.
"I’ve loved animals as far back as I remember. When I started making them the focus of my art, it was like a whole new world opened up to me," she says of her designs which consist of exotic animals on lush plant and floral backgrounds.
As Pang integrated wildlife into her art she began studying their anatomy and characteristics and using her work as a voice for animals at risk. She donates five per cent of her net profits to wildlife charities and her recent designs feature different endangered species. The specific charities vary year to year but Pang says last year she donated to Wildlife Preservation Canada and World Wildlife Fund.
"I hope that my art can give people renewed appreciation of how wonderful wildlife can be," she shares. "I am always grateful when people love to wear my art. It’s one step towards making biodiversity fashionable."
The Misheo fall/winter collection is inspired by nature in the Pacific Northwest and will appear at the Got Craft? Pop-up in the Fall Home Show, the Circle Craft Christmas Market, and Hycroft for the Holidays.
Pang says that she sees Misheo continuing to create a positive impact on wildlife in need and hopes to highlight more at-risk animals and a greater variety of the beautiful species that are still around with future collections.