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Life & Work with Micheline Thompson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Micheline Thompson. 

Hi Micheline, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
After spending 25 years at Corporate America working in the beauty industry. I felt I was ready for a change. Though I was not certain at that time what I was about to do next. I knew my next journey in life had to be about much more than a job and more about making a difference!

When I started MishMoccs, it was about three main reasons. I wanted to be able to manufacture a quality product that had a great purpose for the children who are in their early development. I wanted to donate a portion of sales to help support our disabled veterans. I have hoped by doing both things right that, I would be able to generate adequate income that can provide for me and my family.

Why children? All my life, I have always enjoyed being around kids. And having a child myself who had a difficult time with her early development allowed me to appreciate kids’ product that is not just made to look adorable but also be functional and can support their early development. At MishMoccs, we craft leather moccasins for children and toddlers. We follow all recommendations set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics to help support growing children who are learning how to walk.

Why do I want my company to support veterans versus other organizations? or some might ask, why contribute at all? A little “About” me and the full circle that brings me to today and my company MishMoccs.

I was born in the midst of the civil war in Beirut, Lebanon. I witnessed war transform my beautiful neighborhood into a frightening, almost unrecognizable place.

In 1982, United States Marine and Navy troops were stationed in my neighborhood as International Peacekeepers. I volunteered as a field translator for the U.S. Navy medics personnel; they offered my community stability and much-needed relief for the locals. Since then, I have had a profound appreciation for the military that stemmed from my childhood, and now I am doing my part to give back.

Before starting my business, I had never operated a sewing machine. Nor had I ever worked with creating a design of any sort. At corporate, for years, I assumed successfully responsibilities of sales and marketing. Certainly, I did not have prior knowledge of either the children or the leather industry. All my contacts, network, secure income, credibility, and good reputation I had just left behind to start my new company, MishMoccs!

I knew I needed a lot of help to learn how to create my products, so I went to Chicago to a shoe design school and attended school. I researched leather and different suppliers to learn how best to source material within the U.S. I traveled to meet companies and learn their processes and get ideas on how best I need to get set up, assuming research and development go accordingly. I replicated an internship program as I had while at corporate; such a program can be time-consuming because of the time I had to spend mentoring, but interns can be very helpful as they are usually excited about learning and being involved with new and original opportunities. It is always incredibly rewarding to see an intern flourish.

Here we are three years later; due to hard work and determination, MishMoccs not just has survived the Pandemic, but we have grown significantly! Our brand continues to grow with more product category to offer because of customer demand. Soon we will be launching women leather totes (bags) and children western boots will be available in late Fall. Today, MishMoccs brand is in 80+ retail stores nationwide and is located in a permanent show room at KidsWorld at Dallas Market Center in Dallas, Texas.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Since I started MishMoccs, I have faced several big obstacles. After a year and half of research and development; We were excited to finally launch our business. Unfortunately Covid happened two months after our launch, and we had to deal with it. I lost my team of 5 people, and my suppliers were available on limited basis to ship products., While I had a new company that I just founded, and last I checked, failure was not in my business plan. I have always had this attitude about life and that my cup is always half full and it is refillable! To me, it was crucial to not miss a beat with MishMoccs and work around the clock to make certain all orders are fulfilled as promised. I did not have time to sit around a feel sorry for myself; I still had a new business to grow. I focused on Social media and I contacted gift stores and children Boutiques who were utilizing their online presence to generate sales and offered them our products. Desperate times calls for desperate measures! Some gave me orders because they were in need for products to offer their customers and to fill their online orders. I was very grateful they agreed to give me a chance!  I have always felt incredibly blessed to be able to live in the U.S. And especially during the shutdown. I have family and friends who still live in different part of the world. During Covid, they were really struggling to make ends meet. On the other hand, I was given the opportunity to still work and be able to nurture my new company.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I appreciate the fact that people associate our brand name with quality craftsmanship! In the past when I worked at corporate, I produced sales growth, but I never created anything, never thought I had the capability. I can never draw or operate any real machinery. Now I can design, and I have my design patent, my trademark. I can run industry machines, and I can speak in-depth about leather. I also learned how to design unique patterns on leather, so our products cannot be duplicated as easily. Our prints are unique because we process digital print on leather, not just stamped on leather. It almost works like a tattoo on the skin. Our prints last much longer on leather; they are perfect for children active life.

We’d love to hear about what you think about risk-taking.
When I decided to make a change from what I knew best, the beauty industry. I found myself standing on unfamiliar grounds; that was humbling! I realized that starting a new business would not be easy, but hard work never stopped me in the past. However, walking away from a study, and lucrative earnings, was a risky move. In addition, there was the risk that was obvious, and there was the risk that I may not known about it yet. Taking risks in life is different when we are alone versus when we have a family.

I decided on children’s moccasins because of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations of soft soles for children who are starting to walk. My design meets all AAP recommendations. I had a proof of concept approved by people who are still to this day are loyal friends of MishMoccs. My known risk was to be diminished by my determination and hard work. My unknown risk was what came along shortly after we went to market, Covid, staffing, and keeping up with customer demand.

I learned long ago that we can do a lot of things as long as we are willing to work for it. There is a risk factor involved in most things that are worthy in life. It is important to acknowledge and study the risks involved, but it is imperative not to let fear of taking risks prevent us from moving forward in life.

Pricing:

  • Leather Moccasins $50 -$58
  • Leather Totes $199 – $220
  • Leather Accessories $22-$30

Contact Info:


Image Credits

Micheline Thompsom

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