Melissa from Walter & George is someone you should know. I give you permission to leave this page to wander to her website, covet all her leather goods, add them to your Christmas list, and follow her on Instagram… Okay, now come back.
Not only is Melissa currently running an incredibly creative business, but I have a sneaky suspicion that big and wonderful things are on the horizon for her. I’m always drawn to people who are living life a little differently and who know the meaning of hard work. So when I met and had a conversation with Melissa, I just knew I needed to learn more about her journey. Scroll down to read Melissa’s thoughts on starting Walter & George, what inspires her, and how she embraces opposition.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how Walter & George came to be?
A little about myself… I like long walks on the beach and watching sunsets. Jk I don’t really like the beach. I am native San Diegan and haven’t left yet. I grew up in a super crafty family with a mom who could do all and dad who could fix or build anything. So working with my hands came pretty naturally and is something I’ve always enjoyed. I started working with leather after not being able to find a clutch I could afford or one that I really wanted… the rest is a story I’m still writing everyday.
That’s so great that you were raised in a crafty family and that creativity was a big part of your childhood. What we are taught as children can have a huge influence in our career choices and I’m glad to hear that pursuing a creative career wasn’t an abnormal idea for you! Do you have any mentors for your creative life and career? If so, how have they shaped your business?
When I first started I didn’t really. One of the most incredible things about W & G has been the community I have cultivated through it. I am surrounded by badass boss babes these days which is pretty inspiring. It’s crazy to have dozens of women who are living the same life as you and have access to on a personal level for all my business and life questions. I feel pretty lucky to be doing life and business with so many inspiring women and men (your company included). San Diego is pretty unique in that sense I believe, we really have such a brilliant creative community that is so supportive of each other. It certainly makes being a small business owner a little easier knowing you have like minded people to bounce off of.
Yes! Reading your response just makes me want to find all my fellow creative business owner friends, give them a hug, and thank them for being so amazing. San Diego truly does have an incredibly supportive creative community. What has been inspiring you lately? (books, podcasts, websites, etc?)
Emily Weiss of Glossier has been my obsession lately… I’m at a pivotal point with W & G these days where I want to see growth and expansion, so basically anything I read or listen to involves that. Forbes has a great podcast about woman entrepreneurs who are making moves and running multi-million dollar companies. But in general I love reading and listening to anything involving what women owned businesses are doing. We live in an inspiring time where women can do anything and I really believe that. I’ve been lucky enough to have parents who believe that and in particular a father who believes that. Naturally I gravitate towards stories of women who are doing life and doing it well with no apologies for who they are. It is an epic time we live in and I’m stoked to be a part of generation of women who are living up to what we are capable of.
You’re so right – we as women are living in a really special time right now. It’s inspiring to look around and easily see the impact that strong and hard working women are having on this culture. We may have to work a bit harder to achieve success and break stereotypes but we’re able to pave a way and set a standard for future generations of women. The hard work is paying off in more ways than we may ever see. Did you notice or face any major opposition against you when you first started W&G? If so, how did you overcome it?
Major opposition? Not really, this sounds a little pessimistic but life feels like opposition most days. I don’t mean that quite in the way it sounds, but for me as an individual I don’t have a lot of appreciation for things that I don’t have to work hard for. There isn’t one thing that has been easy about doing W & G, most days I still wonder if I am making the right decision to continue. Daily I have to work through my own insecurities and fears as a small business owner, everyday is choice to sort of live in the unknown and hope that your handwork pays off. I’ll be excited for a season of ease and comfort with Walter & George, but I sort thrive off of the grind and waiting for my big break.
Thank you for having a refreshing perspective! Better to embrace opposition than take the easy and often unrewarding route. What sort of projects are you currently working on and are willing to share about?
Well some exciting stuff is happening. I just opened up my first little retail spot in San Diego in the James Coffee Co building in Little Italy. It’s been pretty great so far and I’m excited to see where it leads. It’s been a dream of mine forever to have a retail space so to see it come to fruition is pretty unreal. Having landlords like the James crew is about as good as it gets too. Life is good right now. Definitely working on some new designs and new product but nothing set in stone. I’m hoping to do some wowing in 2017 and really bring W & G into a new arena which is fun just thinking about!