FROM YOUR DESKS: Do you have a personal creative motto?
MARGOT ELENA: “Fight for good design.” Good design is often a struggle of pushing and pulling the tiniest of details; have patience, keep at it. The right design will emerge and tell you it’s there…when it feels harmonious. It will “feel right.” There’s always a tension that is unresolved–you have to be sensitive and have discipline to see design all the way through.
Margot Elena is a multifaceted designer who creates worlds of coordinating beauty, bath and body and home products. In her early twenties, Margot opened her first retail store, a highly successful gift boutique that focused on hand crafted soaps wrapped in custom packaging. Shortly thereafter, Margot launched Bloom, her first nationally distributed bath and body brand.
Archive, a minimalist luxury bathline followed Bloom. Margot’s most recognizable brand, classic Lollila, was created of boudoir accoutrements telling a story of modern romantic luxury. Tokyomilk, was born out of a vision where nothing is as it seems. Her latest creation takes a playful twist on the modern feminine with colorful Love&Toast, designed with the eco-conscious woman in mind. A portion of every Love & Toast sale goes directly to Regional Affiliates of Girls Inc. Love & Toast is Margot’s affirmation that good design and doing good go hand-in-hand. Margot lives and works in Denver, Colorado.
FYD How do you work?
ME: I have a serious addiction to books and typography. I start a project by looking at stacks of my favorite books–interior design, fashion, textile, graphic, poetry, philosophy. I also listen to music. Each new brand I create stems from a genre or artist that flavors the character of each brand. For instance, I was tapping into my youth with TokyoMilk Dark and channeling how I felt when I listened to Joan Jett and The Runaways in my pre teens– rebellious, a little rock’n’roll. I work into the very wee hours of the morning. It’s not unusual to get a 3 am email from me. I do operations of my company by day and design by night!
ME: As a designer, I’m thrilled to see how far inks, renewable materials and sustainable packaging have come in the past decade. Love & Toast was very much a celebration of this. We’re no longer restricted to kraft paper and monotone soy inks! This lends an interesting spin on the concept of eco-conscious design; embracing these possibilities breathes new life into the world of “natural beauty.” You must believe that all things are possible to effect change.
There are still lighter moments within the collections–but they have very complex and unusual compositions. I love them madly.
ME: Holy smokes–this is still the highlight of my career! You have to keep it very hush hush–and it takes months to pull off. At the time, the numbers they (Oprah team) helped us project were surreal. Ordering that much inventory was very scary. We rushed products into production and bumped others off the line. We organized all of the components and the orchestrate all the moving parts through dramatic pleads to our vendors, “Just trust us, you gotta make this for us right now…it’s going to be reeeeeeally big.”
“It’s a miracle!” became our catch phrase as products miraculously rolled off the trucks. Formula 1 driving probably wouldn’t be as exciting as that day of making sure everything was working smoothly!
We do everything we can to stay ahead of the wave.
ME: We notice when we’re influencing trends in packaging and concept development in the bath and beauty world. I love this question, and yet it’s a hard one to answer. We love these brands like kids. One of the things I love most about developing beautiful products, is the evolution of design, developing new brands and observing competition. Competition challenges us to stay ahead. We do everything we can to stay ahead of the wave.
We know 1: we are committed to an incredibly high level of quality ingredients and performance that sets the bar very high in our industry. We never compromise quality because of cost. Our perfumes really should be priced in the $90-$120 range, but we stay true to our boutique businesses and believed the price points should be more accessible. 2: My busy brain is always thinking of the next thing; so we seem to stay ahead of that wave. 3) Brands become like family to us. We don’t play favorites. 4) I’m always designing with our audience in mind. Audiences are savvy about thinning out overcrowded markets–I just hope to always be inspiring our audience with items that they love!
ME: TKM Dark was an opportunity to express my punk side (would you believe I had a very tall fauxhawk in the 80’s?!) –The Sex Pistols, The Cure, Skinny Puppy, the Gap Band and Eddie Grant all in the same day. I wanted to create something with a darker aesthetic that felt sophisticated. You really have to “find yourself” in the offerings…”Am I this, or this?” It kind of becomes a POP cerebral activity — “How do you find you in TokyoMilk?”
I wanted to explore some darker, sultry, woodsy notes in this collection. I wanted some elements of the line to feel unisex–almost tomboyish, sexy and seductive. There are lighter moments within the collections–but they have very complex and unusual compositions. I love them madly.
FYD: Your nose must be completely trained. Do you have a set list of favorite scents?
ME: My father was a professional musician and my mom is a professional artist. The language of perfume is exactly the same–it’s just working in a different dimension. It is about composition, top, middle, bottom notes, balance, harmony, dramatic pauses and rests–surprises, staccato–capturing the moment imagination through scent.
Thank you, Oprah!