B Michael talks about Virgin Gorda and ecommerce plans – WWD
B Michael was commissioned to manage the textile interiors of Villa Symbio in Virgin Gorda, one of the British Virgin Islands.
Myrna Colley-Lee, who designed and operates the villa, recruited the designer to create bedding, table linens, and even items like umbrella fabrics. Colley-Lee, who also works as a costume designer for the theater, is a longtime client and friend and the couple met years ago. “I was truly honored when she asked me to collaborate with them to update the interiors of the villa. It was created for a celebrity, ”said Michael, refusing to identify the individual.
After touring the property with his eponymous brand’s co-founder and CEO, Mark-Anthony Edwards, a few years ago, Michael will be returning to complete the project to be ready this fall for the season ahead.
Interiors were new ground for the designer but a welcome challenge. “I’m a frustrated interior designer so of course that appeals to that in me. Growing up, my mom always changed things in our house and consulted me on colors and so on. He has always been present. Now that we look at the things that we’ve always wanted to do, this has become one of those projects, ”he said.
Developing models is especially exciting creatively. During his previous stay at the villa, Michael took pictures of the flower arrangements he made by removing the flowers from the garden. These photos inspired some of the designs used in textiles. “Everything really comes from space and will be an integral part of what happens there,” he said, adding that he was also designing light and tropical resort wear that will be sold on the Symbio site.
The Virgin Gorda project has shown Michael the possibility of developing a domestic line, which he looks forward to as he moves forward. During the shutdown, he and Edwards took the time to reshape the business, which will include a designer ready-to-wear collection that will be sold through the company’s first e-commerce effort next year.
It’s additional tangible opportunities like these that give Michael hope that representation can improve in the industry. “Tangible means that we have a stake in the company, in the industry. That’s what Mark-Anthony and I focus on for our own business. This is really where the difference is – it’s economical. Having equity in the industry is the most important, ”he said. “By equity, I mean we have some ownership in the industry. It’s a $ 3 trillion global industry. As black-owned businesses in the fashion industry, we have very little equity, which means ownership where we are at the table, we can make decisions, and we are stakeholders. “
Moving forward with the plans, Michael said raising capital is still on the agenda. To do so as a color creator, because many have been historically excluded from access to capital “is a very specific thing,” he said. “Conversations are [becoming] Easier. The improvement will occur when real capital is raised. But a real capital that allows us to be truly competitive vertically to have a different type of presence.
Planning to return to Virgin Gorda to complete the project could lead to further inspirations, he said. “I call it paradise because there is nothing you can do except soak up what is there. It’s not like going to Puerto Rico or one of the islands where there is a lot of activity. There is The Baths, which sits in the ocean and is one of those great rock formations that you can spend a couple of hours walking through. This is called an event. It’s like stopping the world and leaving.