We are so thrilled to introduced our next FREDA Girl, Hillary Justin. She is an entrepreneur that has been in the fashion industry for more than a decade. We are big fans of her beautiful designs, and of her line Bliss and Mischief. Please read on to learn more about her, we're sure you'll become fans as well!
Please tell us who you are and what you do?
I’m Hillary Justin, the owner and designer of Bliss And Mischief, an ethically made women’s brand inspired by nostalgia, vintage western wear, 70s bootleg tees, and the colors of a dusky desert sunset.
We love the vintage vibe of Bliss and Mischief! Can you describe your past vintage business and how that inspired your line today?
I’ve always loved shopping for vintage and I first got into selling curated vintage about 8 years ago. I first assisted a woman with long standing vintage business and then started Just Say Native with my friend Linde Sayles shortly after. We focused on vintage Indian dresses from the 60s to 80s and other complimentary pieces.
Learning to tell a story through the curation of items really helped inform Bliss And Mischief. When I started the line, I set out to focus on my favorite categories like well loved denim and worn-in army jackets. I loved that these pieces were always classic, no matter the decade so they became the perfect canvas for our western-style chain stitch embroidery. Even as we have expanded the line today into other items, I still use that philosophy that it's a curation of my most favorite things.
We know you feel strongly about cutting down on carbon footprint in the fashion industry, how do you go about that? What can others do?
The line is designed, sewn, and hand-detailed entirely in Los Angeles, CA so we’re able to keep our carbon footprint low mainly because of this. We also try to incorporate as much deadstock or locally stocked fabric and materials as possible so we’re reducing what we ship from overseas. Besides the big ethical reasons of knowing first hand where our pieces are made and the sustainable aspect of a reduced carbon footprint, I genuinely like being involved in the process and witnessing how everything is made. I can directly see how my business is helping to support people in my community! I think with this industry, and for all of us, balance is key. For example if we choose a beautiful fabric that’s made in Japan, we make sure it’s not something we also have to dye once it gets here. My policy is do what you can when you can - from using your own cups, or totes, to picking up supplies locally vs having them shipped.
What has been the biggest challenge in creating your own brand?
Not comparing my business to others in order to get “answers”. I think we do this often with social media by trying to see what others are doing in moments when things aren’t going well. But I always remind myself to put the blinders on - You never know what’s going on behind a business and what challenges they’re dealing with so comparing is a losing game. And I know my work is always stronger when I follow my own inspiration. I’ve found that by connecting with other small business owners in person and having real life conversations about what’s working or what’s not is the most helpful and productive.
This issue is probably a tie or slightly over shadowed by the classic small business challenge: cash flow!
Whats next for Bliss and Mischief?
We’re setting up our first temporary store front in NYC September 4th-9th at 251 Elizabeth St! I’m calling it Nothing Lasts for Long (because well…) and it will have our new Fall collection, some exclusive items I’m making just for the shop, special vintage pieces I’ve been collecting, vintage rugs by Jean Herman Home and a grouping of curated pieces from California maker friends.
Any words to live by?
“Go Your Own Way” - We’re in a really exciting time where we can connect directly with our customers and we don’t have to wait for someone to give us access - and because of that we can really forge our own path. If I’m ever feeling stuck I try to remember this and instead of looking for a traditional way to approach a problem, I challenge myself to get creative!
Photos by our friends, Grey + Elle