Dazey Lady Feature: Larissa Started a Company at 15 and Now Employs her Whole Family!
I have been following Miracle Eye for years because of their amazing clothes and impeccable 60s/70s aesthetic. All this time I had no idea there was an amazing story and Dazey Lady behind the brand! When I was shooting a collab with Nico & Bullitt boutique I spotted some of her pieces and mentioned that I followed her! Glen, who works at the boutique, said she was a friend and began to tell me her amazing story. I knew I had to feature her and carry her pieces in the Dazey Lady Shop! Badass female owned brand with a 70s vibe?! Doesn't get more Dazey than that :)
I met up with boss babe Larissa at their showroom and studio space in Chinatown for the shoot. I felt like I had entered a time machine! The room was filled old school memorabilia, quirky furniture, her amazing clothes, and a ton of the most incredible hand picked vintage. I wandered into their production room and found her adorable mother cutting out pattern pieces and her aunt sewing away! Later her dad even came in too! That's when it dawned on me that this label Larissa stared when she was 15 was now supporting her whole family six years later. I almost got choked up talking to her about it haha. Larissa is so humble I don't think she realizes how incredible it is :) you can tell that they all love each other so much and love what they do.
Read more about her story below and shop her looks HERE
Follow Miracle Eye on Instagram: @MiracleEye
So you were only 15 years old when you started Miracle Eye, so amazing! How did it all begin?
Miracle Eye kind of came about as a result of feeling very anti-social topped with a passion for vintage and handmade clothing and entrepreneurship. I’d actually had 5+ years of experience in running a business by the time I created Miracle Eye. This was made possible because I was never much of a social butterfly (had tons of free time!) and experienced an extreme case of bullying. Those two things are what led me to take the business route. At 10 years old a family friend introduced me to the concept of selling on the internet which completely blew my mind. What do you mean you don’t have to talk to a customer in person? I can work from my laptop and not have to face anyone or let them hear my voice and still make a sale? I can ship the items and use a tracking method to trust that it will arrive on their doorstep on the other side of the country??? This almost seemed too good to be true because it was hard to get anyone to take me seriously in real life, whereas the on internet I was just an anonymous entity. On the internet, I was a 30 year-old confident business owner, but in real life, I was an awkward and shy 10 year-old girl. eBay for me was love at first sight and a dream come true!
A little run-down on the businesses I ran before Miracle Eye: When I was a tiny lil gal, I was selling gum to my neighbors on our block and painting my parent's friends’ nails from age 5-10… And from 10-15 years old, I re-sold clothing from thrift stores on the internet. I purchased these items with the money I had saved up from those two previous businesses. At 15 years old, I decided I wanted to design clothing, and it was just my luck… I happened to be born the daughter of the best seamstress in the world aka my darling mother! I grew up in the fabric stores, always accompanying my mom when she was commissioned for a custom job through her freelance work, so all the fabric store owners knew me from a wee gal. By the time I was 15, I knew the fabric stores like the back of my hand. And I later realized it was just a matter of time until I had put the pieces together, since it happened subconsciously for me. Nothing was ever consciously leading up to it, nor did I ever think this is what I’d do full-time for the rest of my life. I just woke up one morning and asked my mom if she would be open to creating some samples of some sketches I had and she was 100% fully on-board! All those little business endeavors I had experienced were real-life training, filled with plenty of trial-and-error, for creating a company (Miracle Eye!).
How did you promote your brand as a young designer without a huge budget? What were some of the mediums you used?
I kinda hit the jackpot timing-wise because a few months after I created Miracle Eye, Instagram came out… So I’ve been using Instagram since its conception, and haven’t looked back! It’s free and the best marketing tool out there if you know how to post engaging and captivating content. It’s also how I discover all my favorite brands and vintage shops, so I’m both a content-creator and a consumer/fan, which is nice, because I’m living on both sides of the coin. I’ve given it so much thought, and really, because of Instagram, I am able to support myself and my family. I can afford to lease out a brick-and-mortar studio space because of Instagram. So wild how an app can really rule your life! And before Instagram came out, I was promoting Miracle Eye primarily through my blog (when I used to blog six years ago and was just a wee lil teenage gal!). I wouldn’t be where I am now if it weren’t for that app (wowee!).
So you were doing all of this while in high school, was it hard to balance both? At what point did you go full time working for Miracle Eye?
Yes, I was! It was very difficult to balance both, and I found myself prioritizing Miracle Eye above schoolwork, which in the end totally worked out! I often felt guilty for not putting in as much time as I wanted into schoolwork, but Miracle Eye just required all my attention, everyday. I went full time schedule-wise the day after I graduated high school since I no longer had an eight hour long commitment Monday-Friday, but my brain/thoughts went full-time Miracle Eye at 16, in the beginning of my last year of school.
Did you go to college or take any classes in fashion design or was it more of a learn as you go thing?
By the time I graduated high school, I already had the business for two years and was ready to lease out a studio/work space as nothing quite fit in our tiny apartment at that point! I had an interest in attending a fashion design/business school here in Los Angeles, but after going to see a panel of their most successful graduates who were all in their late 20’s/early 30’s, I felt unenthused about attending. They were either an “assistant designer” or “head in marketing” for giant brands and companies, but I realized that’s not what I wanted at all. I wanted to work for myself and never accept payment from someone else for my ideas and give them permission to sell them as their “vision”. They were nearly 10 years my senior, and just now reaching a point in their career where I was at, at 16. This was about a week before applications were due in. I ended up skipping on college applications, and two months after graduating high school, leased out our brick-and-mortar shop/studio space in Chinatown, Los Angeles. So crazy how everything truly happens for a reason. I was 99% ready to submit my application and hand over a giant chunk of my savings to attend, but decided to opt out… It was the greatest decision I ever made!
This has always been a family oriented operation, which we love. Your business now supports your mom, dad, and aunt! How long have they been working with Miracle Eye full time? What roles do they play? What did they do before?
My mom and dad have been a part of Miracle Eye since the day I mentioned the idea of creating my own clothing line! My mother immigrated to America and worked in a sweatshop factory in Los Angeles from the second she landed here up until the day I was able to get Miracle Eye big enough to have her quit, and work full-time for me. She speaks no English, which stopped her from finding a better job. But by working at these factories for over 15 years, she learned so much, and by the time Miracle Eye came into fruition, she was a magic seamstress. Pattern-making and grading patterns, the works basically, were no big deal for her. So essentially, all those years trained her to become the master seamstress she is now. The day she quit working at the factory was the happiest day of my life! My aunt is now the other part of the business, sewing for me, as well. My dad has helped me make wise decisions throughout the years and keeping our shop clean and tidy, as well as helping with shipping orders! The business is basically 90% them and 10% me just keeping things going. I would be nothing without them and I owe them everything!
As a fashion designer what is your biggest inspiration? You as a person have such a distinct 70s vibe and have captured that era like no one else! Have you always been a fan of this decade?
Aw shucks! Thank you! My biggest inspiration comes from vintage photographs, films, but more specifically, from my favorite musicians ranging from the early 1960’s to early 1970’s. I haven’t always been a fan of this decade, but only because I was never exposed to it. I wasn’t sure what I considered my style to be beforehand, and I did know that I never felt too comfortable in it. But all that changed one day when I was visiting a friend, and her brother, who I had a giant crush on, wasn’t home. So I snuck into his room to learn what kinda stuff he was into, so I could study it and like all of that too, and become his dream girl. Logical, right? Well, to my surprise, I found a bunch of records, posters of the Beatles, Janis Joplin, The Kinks, and all the greats hanging in his room. I remember being speechless. It just wasn’t what I was expecting, but also, I had never seen anyone look like the people in these photos. So I wrote down a bunch of the artists’ names, went home, looked up photos, listened to their music, and completely forgot about the boy… And fell in love with Jimi Hendrix and Paul McCartney! My new dream guys! From that moment on, I started thrifting clothing similar to their styles and it kinda just never ended, haha! Funny how that worked out!
At Dazey we believe women are capable of amazing things and deserve respect! As a 21-year-old designer running a successful clothing line have you faced prejudice and/or jealousy regarding your age?
I’ve experienced both of those things so often that I’ve lost count. There have been so many times that I’ve been ignored or disregarded due to my age versus my gender, especially in the first couple of years when I was 15-17. It was constant, and I remember convincing myself that how vendors, sellers, or leasing agents treated me didn’t matter, and I had what it took to do “blank” thing. I felt like my “growing up” stage was forced to be put on hyper-speed just so I could keep up and not let anyone shut my vision down. My parents constant flow of support and kindness allowed me to never crash and burn, because I knew I always had them if things went awry.
It’s been six years since you started! What are your plans for the future?
I hope to continue to grow, and at some point be able to hire several more employees. When ever I take days off to relax at the park or shop at the farmer’s market, it feels like heaven! Having some more help around would allow me to have another day or two like that a week. My goal has always been to keep spreading colorful, stylish, and comfortable clothing in the most ethical way possible. I hope to be able to do it forever, and anything else that comes along is just a bonus!
What does being a Dazey Lady mean to you?
Being a Dazey Lady means wanting to spread love and positivity everywhere you go, and supporting all folks of all genders, sizes, and ethnicities. I’m honored to be a Dazey Lady!
June 29 2017
Larissa is such a huge inspiration to me! She is such a successful, smart, and caring individual. What a great soul!
June 03 2017
This gal is amazing! Her story, her work ethic, her creations, and her family values. A Dazey Lady, through and through. Next time I’m in LA, I hope to see her studio. ?