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It was in her grade three class while working on Mrs. Leddy’s bridge project that Melissa can remember the exact moment she knew she wanted to pursue a career in design. As Melissa crumpled the dark blue construction paper to make water under her bridge, she realized that if there was a job that consisted of making models, she wanted it.

Now having expanded her business into two entities, M2 Perspectives and This Is Interiors, we interviewed Melissa to tell us about the passion behind her brands.

Melissa doesn’t just run one business, she runs two. This Is Interiors was founded in December of 2016 when a client couldn’t find the right throw pillows for her sofa. Since design has always been the highlight of her aspirations, M2, Melissa Margaret Perspectives, remains the gatekeeper of her business, a forever thing. This Is Interiors is a branch that has once again turned a passion into a paycheque and a way of sharing her true love of home design.

“Back in the day I took a sewing class for fun with my Mum and realized it as another source of passion becoming income. Giving both businesses their own identity wasn’t a decision I really thought about to be honest. I mean Martha Stewart has divisions of her company, so why can’t I? It is Martha we’re talking about here! I always pictured my business as a reflection of all the things that I love and breaking them down into divisions was really the only logical way of doing it.”

In May of 2017 Melissa opened her own brick and mortar shop, retail in the front and design studio in the back. She remembers that being the moment people finally understood how honest she was about her passions.

“Working out of your parent’s basement is one thing but having a space of your own with a sign out front that has your logo on it, is completely different. I lasted an amazing two years there and wouldn’t give that up for anything. It was two successful years of having my own space to fully showcase my own world of design.”

For four years her husband put his career on hold so she could jump in with both feet and not have to worry about the everyday burdens of living. He worked dead end jobs, long hours and at one point the pair ended up moving back in with parents to save money so she could invest it back into her business.

After a decade of serving in the military, her husband made the decision to pursue a military career full-time. Melissa says that being a military family means you end up being transferred around a lot and the last four years of their lives were mostly spent apart.

“His job requires him to be in another place, which means you end up not waking up in the same bed every morning let alone every week.”

“After being together for over eight years and married for just over a year, I still can’t say we live together full time. It’s sacrifices like this that many people don’t take into consideration when they see this lifestyle. It’s a sacrifice that both people must be ready for and willing to take on. For me, it meant closing my studio after two years and slowly transferring my business to a new city, so I didn’t always have to say goodnight to him via video chat.”

Melissa doesn’t dwell on the challenges of juggling business ownership with supporting her partners goals, she reminds herself of the opportunities to fully consume the lifestyle and builds her business around it.

“It has inspired me to go for things I never would have considered, like writing a how-to book. It’s also inspired me to follow and find new inspiration for my business and the coming changes are far too exciting for both M2 and This Is Interiors.”

How did your passion for home and decor develop?

I’m a millwork junkie. I love anything that has any relation to wood. I grew up with a master carpenter as a Father and my family line has a long list of crafters and laborers in it. I don’t think a passion for home design ever developed, it has always been there. My school projects were always so over the top and that wasn’t from me trying to show off, that was from a true passion of “hey if this is a real job and not just a school project, I want to do this”. I’ve always wanted to build something, anything and I fully took advantage of those times to showcase that. Building off that foundation is the reason I can pass that type of knowledge along to my clients and brand.

I find it hilarious now but when I was growing up, I was never allowed to decorate my bedroom. I had a basement to destroy and that was totally cool. That’s probably why my true passion for décor did not develop until I went away to college. While furnishing my first apartment I found a 1940’s burnt orange leather and cherry wood all original sofa with chair at an antique market. I honestly can say that’s what inspired my true style. If you look through my home, past projects, social media, even my Pinterest boards you will find a clear relation to chic old school vintage, retro, or salvaged vibes. I’m a big believer that everything in your home should have a meaningful reason as to why it’s there, and if it doesn’t, why do you need it? I relay this back to my clients as well. I think a lot of my design style comes from making sure everything has a place and a usefulness behind it. A minimal but practical way of designing whether it be a kitchen or a throw pillow. Having a story or a reason behind something in your house really turns it into the history of your life, your home and I’m lucky enough to be paid to do that for people. I think that this is also why I am a huge fan of upcycling as well. A lot of my own furniture has come from past relatives and some pretty bad-ass Kijiji finds. If you love it, that’s all that matters, and I think that’s where I somewhat differ from other designers. Just because it doesn’t go with the exact style you have gone with, doesn’t mean it won’t work. Reuse and upcycle to create character.

What inspires your business’ aesthetic and manifesto and how does your mission support your goals?

I’m a large fan of one-of-a-kind things and that really integrates into my business philosophy and its aesthetic. I’ll admit, I’ll go home if someone else is wearing the same shirt as me. It’s a personality thing that can be related back to the design side of things as well. I lean towards the world of ‘custom’ design for a reason and this is it. I absolutely despise designing the same things twice and that has been a challenge I’ve had to battle with. On the design side of things, as beautiful as they are, everyone’s a fan of white kitchens. I’ve had to find ways of creating small and subtle ways of switching up the typical ‘white kitchen’ through hardware, backsplash and accent colours just to have that fine line of discrepancy.

This Is Interiors also follows that manifesto. While being hand-made yes, it may look the same from afar but when you really look at it, they truly aren’t all the same. The leather hand-stamped tags aren’t the exact same or the concrete didn’t dry the same tone while the Orono tower on this pillow is a bit smaller than that one. It’s the little things like that which allow the creativity of the item to show. A lot of my products are reproduced but also are hand-painted or poured creating unique elements making every one of those customs as well. When it comes down to the overall colour palette of my designs, I totally blame that on the oldies I listened to and the antique shops I spend my weekends in. I’m a sucker for a good 50’s, 60’s and 70’s style vibe of design. The colours are those but elevated. A lot of natural organic styles and neutral colours but occasionally, you’ll find a pop of colour. I also love being on the cuff of borderline inappropriate. If it makes you laugh, it’s totally worth it and you will find this when it comes to my tea towels and banners.

My line of throw pillows also comes with a story behind them. The line holds a bigger meaning than stylish comfort. Each design element is thought completely through right down to the name. Hal is a precise design and so is the man that it is named after, Mary-Bruce’s pleats showcase the layers of talents this woman has, Henk is simple but classic just like him and Johanna is dynamic, and fun just like her. The pillows are named after people who have had a strong impact on my life and it’s my subtitle way of saying this wouldn’t have happened without you. It brings it back to how design isn’t just a pretty thing to look at, it also holds a history lesson and a way of leaving a legacy. This is a big goal for me, I want my brand to showcase what I believe is to be beautiful, complex and witty. It’s a brand that I’ve created to showcase not only the design that I love but also the lifestyle I hope to pass along.

What breakthroughs have you had on your journey and what aided them?

My biggest breakthrough for my business would be opening my brick and mortar studio in my hometown of Orono, Ontario. I figured if I could make it in this little village, I could basically make it anywhere. I opened a studio in 18 days, and I think everyone around me thought I was crazy. I outgrew my parent’s basement and needed a place where people were going to take me seriously and this studio was it. I held onto the studio for two years. That wild journey lead me into the position of President for the Business Improvement Area (BIA) along with being chair for an economic development study for the town which of course gave me opportunities to participate in the fun stuff like town festivals. My purpose became getting that town back on the map and I was proud to help in doing that while I was there. That shop showed me the importance of community and inspired me to stay small (not too small) and find my niche of small-scale handmade products.

A major personal breakthrough that happened for myself in 2019 was that I found out that it’s okay to be “over” things and go back to them at another time. For me, I swing between the lines of custom millwork design and home décor. I’ve always had a focus on the design world, designing kitchens, bathrooms, custom homes and showrooms because that is what has always kept my mind busy. With time, I noticed a shift happening. As my hand-made home décor became more business then hobby, I found that my true passion shifted along with it. It’s what makes me happy, what makes my clients happy and who doesn’t want to literally experiment and create everyday? May will be a full five years since this all started. Yet, this is probably the first year that I’m going to do what I truly want to do and not what I’m expected to do. This year I’m exploring my true passion again and I am excited to see who and what comes with me once I get to that point of wherever I’m headed. Being a creative opens a lot of doors and I’ve knocked down a few already but I’m also ready to find more. Breakthroughs are outcomes of finding out about yourself personally or your business and they are important to learn from. I think people should always try to keep growing and not just focus on making money. Running a business is hard and I have had a first-class seat to witness it. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone and a big factor of why people stop or never get started is the embarrassment of failing. It’s been almost five years and if I would have quit the first time I felt like I failed, I don’t even think my business would have a name.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to say no and it’s also 100% okay to be you. If you want to be the next big thing on HGTV that’s totally cool but if I can pass along anything, it would be to remember who you are and what you want to represent. For me, it was realizing that having a set niche is my calling. I always imagined being on TV but when it came to that happening, I bailed hard and that’s totally okay. I realised that I truly wanted my autograph to be on a client contract or my products rather than a picture of my face.

Do you think compassion for art and creativity are important?

I think the world of creativity and design is very biased and follows trends too closely. It is casting this shadow on people’s work, which maybe truly inspiring but since it doesn’t follow the trends, it’s not really showcased or promoted. Creativity can be very subjective, you either like it or you don’t and that’s how it’s going to be.

I think I stopped caring what people’s opinions were after I got my grade back on my thesis in college. I started only caring about what my clients thought or what I thought. I was far from an A+ student. I never felt the need to change my designs (unless it was code violation) because my teachers didn’t resonate with my design style and believe me that reflected in my marks. I think that’s where the system has failed. People are encouraged to be creative yet there are guidelines attached and if you don’t meet those guidelines, you’re not good enough. I believe that’s what causes people to follow another ‘safe’ path instead of their passion.

I think in my line of work having compassion for any creativity is important because they are literally passing along to you an emotion through their work. I don’t just toss up anything on my site to sell or toss a few designs together when presenting a kitchen to a client. I do my research, I’ve studied, and I’ve sat back and learned both creative elements and techniques that aren’t always considered when looking at a space or a painting. Before anything hits my shop, I always make sure to use it in my own home before I even consider selling it. I constantly tweak them to ensure that the product is the best it can be. I also do this when I am sourcing products for renovations. My philosophy is that if I won’t put it in my home, I’m not going to put it in yours. Therefore, compassion for another’s creativity is important because in almost all cases this is their passion and they just want to pass that along. There is also a lot that goes on in the background that many people don’t understand or consider. I swear I’ve heard “well I can get that at (insert big box store name here) for cheaper” so many times and yet it still infuriates me like it’s the first time I’ve heard it. I will always remember something that was said to me, “if they want to shop at big box stores, they aren’t your type of client” and I think that’s the only thing that calms me down when I hear that. Not everyone is going to like or want to pay for what you are selling and that’s okay, but they also need to realize that my products aren’t for everyone. They aren’t mass produced and my pricing reflects that. I’m not looking to be in everyone’s home, I’m looking to be in the homes that understand the concept behind creative, custom design and the ones that share the same passion for art and design as I do.

What do you want people to know about your business, and what can customers expect for the future?

To be honest this whole thing comes from a passion that has slowly transformed into a lifestyle. Being a military family has and will cause us to move around a lot and because of that, it’s inspired me to create a business around it. I think closing my shop and moving to a new city has really forced me to answer the question of ‘okay you’ve accomplished that now, what’s next?’ It’s given me a lot of opportunities that have collaborated into a whole new branch of M2 Perspectives and This Is Interiors for 2020. At the time I thought it was the end of everything, but it ended up being a great opportunity to refocus and find the perfect balance of design and décor not just for my business but for my clients as well.

Even though I am leaning more on This Is Interiors for now, there are still a lot of changes coming for M2. I am launching a plethora of new and informative ways to reach out to anyone who rents or moves a lot. It’s a category I think we as a family fall into and live by. Our lifestyle can become hectic with having basically zero time to pack up let alone plan a whole new space. So, if I can take a bit of panic away from that by showcasing and incorporating my job and lifestyle, why wouldn’t I share that? I’m working on a few different platforms for this next chapter. Sorry for being so cryptic but some surprises are best left unsaid. I’m a strong believer in the products I produce, deliver and use and I’m also a fan of honesty so, yes you will be seeing a lot more of my face this time around. I figured if you’re honest, you better show your face so here I am.

This Is Interiors will also be seeing more products added to the ever-growing list. You will also be seeing a shift in where my products will be sold. I am launching a new website for This Is Interiors where you can buy directly and not a second party seller, which is always nice. I think it will help with overall satisfaction when it comes to the customers experience with not only the site, but the products as well. I am also branching out into local shops and markets, and have planted myself at Terren’s Wellness Centre in Orono, Ontario. I am excited to get back into the markets. It’s always nice to see who appreciates your products and who the actual purchasing consumer is. It’s great to see pictures of your products being sent all over the world, but it’s another thing entirely to talk to someone who loves your products as much as you do.

There have been a lot of things I don’t think I’ve given myself enough credit for. This interview has really opened my eyes to everything I’ve accomplished in the last five years and focus on the present with more goals and ideas for the future. I love accomplishing the things that truly make me happy, and if a paycheque comes with it, I’m not complaining.

© 2021 Merrymen.

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