Michelle Lai is the founder of MISCHA, a passion project inspired by the past and present – the memories of adventures from before to the intrepid spirit of women today. Known for their iconic hexagon print tote bags, Michelle wants to create timeless, versatile designs for everyday journeys.
From a degree in Biomedical Sciences and a career in Education to a creative turn with MISCHA – how do the dots connect to now?
Since I was little, I’ve had many interests! Science and art were equally important to me and I painted as much as I did science experiments. My grandma taught me how to sew, so starting my own label was quite natural. But pursuing it as a career was quite nerve racking.
MISCHA is known for its hexagon print tote bags, is there a story behind this iconic motif?
Few people know that the origins of ISCHA come from my obsession with Japanese art and culture. I started the label with handmade clutches using vintage kimono and obi fabric. The signature print I designed, was inspired by traditional hexagon motif. In the Japanese culture, the hexagon represents the sea tortoise shell and symbolises longevity. This is one of the values I truly believe in and want it infused into my brand.
Hardest part of the MISCHA journey so far? Proudest moment?
Proudest moment was probably when we launched in Lane Crawford stores. It was our first season and opened a lot of doors for us. Then being featured in Vogue.com was delightful. The biggest challenge is staying relevant with new brands being launched every season.
You mentioned in your TED talk that you are heavily inspired by your travels. Of all the places you’ve visited, which has been the most memorable? Do you have a favourite travel story to share?
It’s so hard to choose one place. Every place is special to me. Experiencing the rhythm of a place inspires me differently. I really loved Istanbul because you get the true sense of East meets West. I love the ancient buildings and the feeling of having traveled back in time. The people are also very warm and not to mention the food is amazing.
What does creativity mean to you?
Creativity is about thinking outside of the box and having alternative solutions to everyday problems. As Pablo Picasso puts it beautifully, “Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” My challenge is to keep an open and curious mind and to see the world the way a child does.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
No means, not right now. Keep trying.
What is one question you wished people asked you more often?
What else do you do besides designing handbags?
How would you like to be remembered?
I’d like to be remembered as someone who inspired people to strive for their best, to be courageous and live with kindness and compassion, someone that’s fun to be with!
We are inspired by Michelle’s heritage intention and are proud to have her as Fieldtesters, a group of inspiring individuals that test MATTER products in their everyday journeys of passion, to help us improve durability and design. Michelle is wearing the Sideswept Dhoti + IChing Jade Noir in Size 1.
Grounded on the kinship of this philosophy, we collaborated with MISCHA, a travel brand known for their timeless bags with an iconic kame design that pays tribute to its Japanese inspiration from the sea tortoise shell. Together with MISCHA, we’ll be giving away two curated outfits – with accessories included. Enter below from now until April 9th to stand a chance to win.