Back in 2010, the first time I had visited New York City, I absolutely fell in love with its charm and elegance. It was also an honor and a once in a lifetime experience to be selected as one of the top 5 designer finalists in the 'Best Handbag in Overall Style & Design' category in NYC. This event led me to countless opportunities in my career. She was the one who encouraged me to attend the Independent Handbag Designer Awards. And now she is still the one who continues to inspire me and many others through The Emerging Designer Network she has founded. It is my privilege to introduce you to Melissa Hall and her philosophy of her success.

Melissa Hall tells us her story...

ABOUT ME

I started my career in advertising after graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I worked in account management in Chicago for a little over six years where I learned brand strategy, production and solid marketing practices. I moved to New York to go to Parsons for fashion design. After school, I combined my marketing experience and design knowledge and fell in to an entrepreneurial role. In just 5 years, I have touched various parts of the industry including: styling, writing, sales, teaching, marketing and event production. I still balance all of these positions, but with a greater focus on helping emerging designers and entrepreneurs build their business.

IN A REAL WORLD THE REAL MELISSA HALL IS...

I've realized that I'm an information-seeker. I live in NYC and I'm stimulated by my surroundings everyday. Whether it's walking down Fifth Avenue to look at the windows, discovering street art or attending a lecture, I'm enjoying every moment of this experience. Oh, I should also mention that I've developed a liking to macaroons, kale and green tea.

THE EMERGING DESIGNER NETWORK IS...

A community where designers can learn about fashion resources, news, get marketing tips and have their designs featured and recognized by the industry.

THE KEY TO MY SUCCESS IS...

The key to my success is a mixture of a couple of things. In so specific order, it is:

     1- Surrounding myself with smart, professional and successful people that are always pushing themselves forward

     2- Staying relevant with the industry, the latest technology and always trying to learn something new

     3- Choosing opportunities that are a fit with my beliefs versus taking a job for money. I've chosen this path and have been humbled by the tradeoffs. However, I wouldn't go back to change a thing!

     4- Smiling. It makes a big difference.


I LOVE WHAT I DO BECAUSE...

I get to meet so many talented designers and people in the industry that are bringing fresh ideas to market and also supporting young talent. I'm also amazed by the international support that I've received and it feels great to help foster a design community. Not only do I feel like I am part of a network, I believe that I have great friends across the world.

MY PHILOSOPHY IS...

Smile, work hard, say please and thank you and always be strategic.

I AM INSPIRED BY...

Street art, bright colors, New York City and brilliant ideas.

FASHION IS...

The medium that allows style to be created.

THE BEST ADVICE I CAN GIVE  TO DESIGNERS IS...

Take the time to learn the market, your consumer and invest in product development. While you're doing this, find the right partners and community to help support your goals and before you start, ask yourself what you want out of this experience. In the end, this answer will be your filter for everything you do and will help motivate you.

THE REAL SUCCESS IN LIFE IS...

For me, success is not defined by one particular event or end date. It's by moments. When I feel like I've had a moment, I turn on Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears. It reminds me of my childhood and takes me to a great place. If I can hear that song periodically, I know I'm doing alright.

MY BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN BUSINESS ARE...

Right now, it's keeping up with growth! I feel so lucky that opportunities keep presenting themselves to me and I need to find a way to balance these endeavors.

Melissa Hall is the NY Emerging Designer columnist on Examiner.com and also writes about marketing trends on StartUp Fashion and is a contributer for Lookbooks.com. In addition to producing major events like the Independent Handbag Designer Awards hosted by InStyle and Handbag Designer 101 and Social Media Week New York and Chicago, Melissa is also an instructor at FIT and consults fashion brands and small businesses.