Mihaela Markovic’s mission is to create high quality knitwear for people who want pieces they can connect with. She designs bespoke, special pieces that reflect an individuals’ characteristics and choices, potentially becoming a family heirloom and being appreciated over time just like good wine. Here, she talks to us at House of Coco and tells us more about her plans for the brand…
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
I launched it about a year and a half ago with a desire to challenge peoples’ established ways, to ignite a change within the whole industry. The idea of sustainability is certainly not new, but what I’m doing is saying you can have those few pieces that grow on you, living your best moments with them or in them and they remain in this world even when you’re not here anymore. It’s quite a scary, morbid thought, but if you look at the bigger picture, it makes perfect sense. When a woman who buys MM knitwear applies the same train of thought to other areas of her life, the way she deals with human relations, or if you think about our descendants, people that will inhabit this world after us etc. Maybe she will start thinking – what am I actually leaving behind? Did I make one step forwards in the evolution of the human race or did I -most probably-just make things worse for the ones coming after me, piling up ‘crap’ and not investing time and energy in what’s truly worth?
Whats your background?
I completed my BA in Fashion Design at Istituto Marangoni in Milan which was such a great basis for my further professional development. Already in Milan I started flirting with knitwear, although not completely giving in. After working for 2 years in the industry I decided knitwear is my true love and I wanted to get back to uni. I applied to NTU, which had the best fashion knitwear programme outside of London. Cost-effectiveness was one of the reasons, but I also wanted to experience real Britain, which is quite different than London. NTU proved to be perfect choice, the facilities, the staff there, I loved every bit of it.
Regarding my business, I began already at NTU, writing up my business plan, I attended a 3-month entrepreneurship course where I learned the basics of starting your business. It was all very different from my regular studies, all numbers and facts and no creativity at all. But I’ve survived! And learned a lot along the way.
I come from an entrepreneurial family and I have to say that made a huge difference because I understood from day 1 the mindset you have to have to make it all work.
How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
Right now there is my mom and sister, we are keeping it in the family (haha). My mom is the target customer, and a master hand-knitter. She has her business so she is quite busy, but she still helps a lot with advice and making up new patterns.
My sister is the one that manages my shop, the books, etc. I have 2 more people working for me, assisting me with different things.
I personally am in charge of all design, website management, social media etc.
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
I wouldn’t know because I’m still in that very early stage of my business, and it requires a lot of patience and perseverance to get one step closer to my goal. In one moment I’m thinking I have the best job in the world, in the next-what did I get myself into?
What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
When you’re working for yourself you are constantly thinking how to move forwards, how to improve on your established ways, how to innovate and bring something new to everything that already exists. It’s not climbing to the top of a mountain and staying there thinking this is it. There are numerous mountains and valleys behind.
Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
What is beautiful about my work, and about the world in general, is the fact that whenever we think two things are as different as they can be, there is a connection and a common trait between them. That is what I do, I link them together, either literally by combining unusual materials, using most improbable yarns, something no one would think of, or quite figuratively, by translating ,for example, a historical event into a new shape.
Fashion is about bringing a new way of thinking to the table. Pretty dress is just a tool, a way to express your thoughts, desires, to express who you are.
2017 is here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
Well for now I’m looking to find more buyers, to increase visibility of my brand and to get more people to know me. I’m going to be launching own online shop in the next 6 months.
As for the store, I just opened my first shop in the very centre of Zagreb, it is a merge of an art gallery/museum shop/concept store. We already have two artists lined up for collaborations, both sculptors, creating knitted installations within the space. I want it to become a place where people can come and relax, listen to good music and see some cool conceptual design. Creating the MM world.
The world is changing rapidly and I think it is the most exicting time since the existence of human race-with all the new technology developing. We are not even aware how we will be living in the next 20 or 30 years. So that’s what’s incredibly exciting.
Slow fashion is important because it takes time for every idea to flourish and to develop. In the existing fashion system, collections are churned out, designers are pressured to invent every single day which is clearly impossible to do. I design two collections a year, and each one feeds into the next one, there is the same train of thought passing from one to the next one. Which is natural considering it’s one person designing and expressing my view of the world.
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
I’ve exhibited at London Fashion Week in September, that has been pretty amazing. + the shop opening
While at London Fashion Week, I’ve been told numerous time by the people form the industry that my pieces would look incredibly fresh and innovative if translated to menswear. So we’ll see what the future brings.
Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
London, because I know it the best probably.
Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Red lipstick absolute number one! I’d say La Roche Posay CC Creme with sun protection, and hand creme.
Not caring about what others think, not being yourself but always trying to get to know yourself better. discovering new things about yourself.
Best thing about London to you?
Open mindedness. craziness. everything and everyone is accepted.
If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear everyday?
I have a little black ribbed top, knit with cotton and elastin and it’s my go-to piece whenever I feel unsure what to wear!
Favourite love song?
Close to Me, The Cure.
Best place for a coffee?
I love that place in Notting Hill, Farm Girl.
Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
Hmm..there are a few. Mostly given by my parents. My father would always tell me- Any skill you learn, however useless it seems to you, believe me, it will come in handy one day.
Now I’m finally realising this.
Lindt Chocolate eggs.
If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
On a deserted island in the south of Croatia.
In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
The world is changing rapidly and I think it is the most exciting time since the existence of human race-with all the new technology developing. We are not even aware how we will be living in the next 20 or 30 years. So that’s what’s incredibly exciting.
Slow fashion is important because it takes time for every idea to flourish and to develop. In the existing fashion system, collections are churned out, designers are pressured to invent every single day which is clearly impossible to do.
I think every designer is aware of it by now, only some choose to ignore it, some think they are just a drop in the ocean and they cannot ignite any changes. Well, we are all tiny little drops in the ocean, that is why it is essential that each of us takes responsibility for their actions and that each makes the right choices.
I design two collections a year, and each one feeds into the next one, there is the same train of thought passing from one to the next one. Which is natural considering it’s one person designing and expressing my view of the world.
I want to create a complete MM world, a place where anything will be possible.
Find out more…
facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/studiomarkovic/
instagram : https://www.instagram.com/studio.markovic/
twitter : @mihamarkovic