I’m thrilled for you to meet another inspiring Run the World lady boss, design entrepreneur Shannon Oakes. Shannon is the founder of MINI-malist, a Los Angeles-based gender neutral children’s clothing line and simplistic home goods shop.
I first met Shannon about eight or so years ago while visiting a friend at Ohio State. Through our mutual friend, we’ve crossed paths several times since. Every time I’ve been around her, I remember thinking how incredibly kind and sweet she is. When I learned about Shannon’s venture, MINI-malist, I couldn’t wait to talk to her more about her work.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
At MINI-malist, we aim to design and manufacture functional and timeless children’s clothing, accessories, and home goods with the motto, “less is more”. Our children’s clothing line bridges both genders and provides functional clothing that both kids and parents love. The newly launched Home Goods utilizes simple shapes in unique patterns to sophisticate one’s home/nursery.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR MINI-MALIST; WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION?
The idea first came to me a few years out of college when I was blessed to be an aunt to three beautiful little girls. I wanted to buy them clothing that lasted, but wasn’t plastered with glitter and cartoon characters. I thought there had to be a market for simple, gender neutral clothing that was flexible for parents and that kids looked great in.
I have approached the line as I would an interior project and believe that all large scale, base items should be neutral, and all the accessories can be used to genderize. This allows for parents to buy a foundation for one child and use it for child 2, 3, and so on. Our silhouettes are simple and timeless, and we strive for each collection to last for years.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND/HOW DID YOU END UP DOING THIS?
My formal education is in Architecture from Ohio State, but after school, I moved to Los Angeles and found work in Interior and Product Design. The transition from interiors to clothing and home goods utilizes the same type of processes, but I’m able to work on a smaller scale, which I love. It allows me to conceptualize, design, and create a tangible product a whole lot quicker.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR? WHAT IS MOST CHALLENGING?
My favorite part is definitely the freedom of creativity. I’ve never been great at following directions, and I love pushing the boundaries, whether that’s through materiality or a conceptual idea. The most challenging part, I would say, is sticking to a strict production schedule; my creativity gets in the way, but I’m working on it.
WITH SUCH A CREATIVE MIND, HOW DO YOU STAY FOCUSED AND GROUNDED?
Well… that is the daily struggle, ha! Lately, I’ve been trying to schedule out the week on Monday morning; that’s been helping a lot. With that being said, things do come up unexpectedly that need immediate attention, so I just have to go with the flow. If I need to stay late or work on the weekends, I do, so that I don’t get too behind and lose my mind.
AND HOW DO YOU STAY INSPIRED?
I’m a super nerd and am always asking questions. I was that annoying kid who always asked my parents, “What is that? How does that work? Why?” Now I can ask GOOGLE! (Haha!)
I find daily inspiration everywhere and am very interested in how people live. I really do believe the saying by Mies Van Der Rohe, “Less is more.” This mantra can be applied to many different aspects of your life i.e. consumerism, time, space, etc. It’s time for us to slow down and appreciate each and every day more.
IF YOU HAD TO GIVE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE TO AN ASPIRING ENTREPRENEUR, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Try your best to focus on one task as a time. It is so easy to see the big picture and get excited, but it is also easy to get overwhelmed that way. Baby steps!
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO GET MINI-MALIST OFF THE GROUND?
I suppose “off the ground” is a bit relative. Getting from an initial idea to where MINI-malist is now has been an amazing learning experience, and we have passed some major hurdles. I am happy with the progress, but have plans to grow even more.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR MINI-MALIST?
Well, we are currently designing/sampling for our next collection, which we are SUPER excited about. We have a better handle on all the moving parts that come with manufacturing/producing a whole collection, so we are much better prepared. In terms of home goods, we are sampling really cool tie dyed linen… keep your eyes out, we have a good feeling about the direction we’re headed!