At Nine56 Studio, Founder Meg Floersch believes that a balanced life is a happy life. Meg and her team strive for a balance in everything that they create. That means designing unique garments that are easy to wear and made to LAST. Meg thinks that in the pursuit of living intentional lives with less excess and more quality, our closets and what we wear are a pretty good place to start. Meg assures that Nine56 makes their garments the right way, the first time, every time. Every garment is made to order, all under one roof. They design, cut, and sew every garment in their Minneapolis studio. For Nine56, that means that the clothes you wear were made for you by people who are just as passionate about them as you are.
Check out Meg's work at the upcoming Fashion Week MN Spring 2017 Market at Modist Brewing put on by Minneapolis Craft Market.
Talk about the beginnings of nine56. What inspired you to begin this endeavor?
When I was in school for apparel design, a couple of my close friends were really struggling with all of the ethical and sustainable issues that make up the industry. They considered changing majors because they didn’t want to be a part of such a dirty industry. I saw being a part of the industry as a huge opportunity to make positive changes. I created nine56 to contribute to a movement away from fast fashion towards more localized and personal fashion where there is a relationship of mutual respect between wearer, designer, and producer.
Were you always directly pursuing a creative path?
Yes, always. Even when I didn’t know what form it would take. I was first interested in fashion because I fell in love with how it blends art and function. Clothing is such a commonplace part of life and it still sometimes amazes me how much opportunity it has, if thoughtfully designed and made, to change someones day, change someones life and make a positive impact on the world.
I love the bit on your site, "We think that in the pursuit of living intentional lives with less excess and more quality, our closets and what we wear are a pretty good place to start." What do you think being more cognizant of buying fewer quality garments and avoiding 'fast fashion' stores can do for the individual? How about on a larger scale?
I think that buying fewer garments and avoiding fast fashion is an essential element to creating lives that are less cluttered. The modern day lifestyle of many Americans is filled with junk, honestly, from what we eat, to how we clean our faces, to what we wear. We have a lot of things, but in many cases they are not things that are good for us. I think that leads to a lot of issues, both on a personal psychological level and on a larger world sustainability scale.
At the same time, there are all of these amazing brands that exist and amazing opportunities to spend your money contributing to thoughtful and worthwhile products.
It's not uncommon for artists and makers to simply want to create, disregarding the business side of their creative endeavor. How are you on the business side of nine56? Is it difficult to do both aspects well?
Although the business aspect is much harder for me to navigate, I understand how valuable it is in building the business that I dream of having. So I do spend time thinking of how I can expand the business and trying to be diligent with my management of tasks on the business end of things. For me, creating a quality product that nine56 customers love is the most important thing. It is also important to me that my customers find nine56 clothing affordable. So running a sound business is important to create a quality product at a reasonable price.
Are experimentation and trying to new techniques important to your vision and execution?
Absolutely, I always want to make garments that are interesting and that really have personality. My garments also need to be easy to wear. Experimentation is necessary to always have better and better garments. I am also a big believer that when there are so many ways of doing things, it is important to always be playing with the best way to create the garment that I have sketched out. Recently I have been looking into minimal waste pattern making and I hope to incorporate more of those techniques into my next collection.
You make one garment at a time and all in your Minneapolis shop. That's incredible! Is this a challenging model? What do you find gratifying in making clothes in this way?
I think the most challenging aspect of this model is that I am responsible for every aspect of the garment creation process, from designing, to pattering, to fitting, and eventually producing! I look forward to growing a team of passionate and talented people who can contribute to the conversations about how to make the best garment possible. For now, the model of making one garment at a time is incredibly gratifying to me because it is so personal. I have put my whole heart into each garment and I feel related to the woman who will soon be wearing what I just created. I find that with large batch production, the art of making the clothing can be lost. So one garment at a time helps keep me loving what I’m doing.
In terms of living and making in Minnesota, do you feel connected to this place?
I do feel connected to Minnesota, I grew up here and have lived here most of my life. I spent a lot of time in Wisconsin when I was getting into fashion so I feel like I missed out a bit on the Minnesota fashion culture. I am so excited to be back home and discovering all of the amazing things that are happening here in terms of making and building community through craft.
What do you see for the future of your business?
I would love to someday have a flagship shop with a studio in the back. The clothing label Winsome Goods just opened a Flagship with that layout and I think having a physical space to connect with customers is really important. I would also love to make the space more artistic and host art classes and other events for the community. I really believe in the power of a local brand to build community. I am excited to work towards that with nine56.
Do you feel like making and creating through your business allows you to contribute to something larger than yourself?
Most definitely. When you start something like nine56, especially as a young person, there are many questions that rise up along the way. Many of those questions surround how you are going to build this label that you have envisioned but many of them also surround why you decided to do this and if it was the right choice. You wonder if it is worth all of the work and risk. Always to answer those sorts of questions, I look to having the ability to contribute to something larger than myself. The dreams I have for how my brand could bring people together and do good for the world, even in a very small way, are what keep me going.