Between her ever-expanding fashion brand and a baby at home, designer Mélissa Nepton has a lot on the go.
Thankfully, the new mom has the love and support of her husband and business partner, Michael, who she fondly calls her "mentor." Learning to take time for her family is a struggle, she says, but her passion and work ethic help keep the Montreal-based entrepreneur focused on growth – while taking everything in stride.
In anticipation of her Fall/Winter 2014 presentation at World Mastercard Fashion Week, HELLO! Online caught up with Melissa, who dished on everything from her young family to some of the differences she sees between Toronto and Montreal street style.
Last season’s collection was inspired by Japanese culture and featured pixelated prints. What inspired this season’s collection?
This season, I am using the same kind of signature style – very feminine and fluid, from the 1970s – but I add an 80s element for a more structured, more athletic and technical look. It’s more structured and edgy at the same time.
Your focus has always been on the career woman and something that you could wear to look smart and professional. Why is that so important to you?
It’s important because 80 per cent of women work, so I try to make things that are different and stylish, but also practical for the office.
You have a little baby, Olivia, who is one year old now. How do you manage to find the work-life balance?
I’m at the office 9 to 5 now. I don’t stay overtime anymore because I have my family – but it’s a challenge. I think you need to be a bit of a workaholic in this business, so it’s a work in progress. It’s more of a mental thing. When I’m at home with my baby, I try to forget all about my business, but it’s hard. I think I’m better at it now than I was one year ago, and I will keep getting better and better at it.
You mentioned that your mother influenced your interest in design because she used to make theater costumes. What does she think of your success?
I think she’s very proud, and my dad too. I think it’s her dream because she would be very, very happy to be in my place, too.
What would you say if Olivia grew up and she decided she wanted to be a fashion designer just like her mom?
That would be fine! I think that she should be confident and very passionate. I can already see her personality – she knows what she wants. If she wants something, she will be the best at it.
Your husband is your business partner. What role does he play in the brand?
My husband Michael is a good businessman. For him its very natural to talk with numbers and marketing and he helps me and he pushes me. He’ll say, “Did you make the product for the next three months?” and I’ll say, ‘No, not yet,’ and he’ll say ‘Go, go, go!’ He’s my mentor.
What are the biggest street style differences you see between Montreal and Toronto?
I think Montreal is more European, where Toronto is more American. So the girls [in Toronto] are more cutesy and girly, and Montreal is artistic in style – it’s not as feminine. The girls in Toronto dress sexier.
If you could dress one celebrity client, who would it be?
I really love Kate Hudson and Jennifer Lawrence.
What’s the next step for you in the next few years?
In terms of the brand, I'd like to expand to the U.S. – but I’m also trying for the next baby! I want a big family. First, two [kids] – maybe three, though. I’d like for Olivia to have a brother.