| Payton North
EAST LONGMEADOW – When East Longmeadow resident Michelle Provencher started her lifestyle brand The Love Mich Collection in 2008, she went into it with the intention to make her business her full time career. Eight years in, she was able to replace her day job income with the business, and today, she has several employees and is working toward her next goal: to have a global fashion empire.
When she was studying to be a paralegal, Provencher tapped into her creative side by designing and making bags and purses to at first give to friends and family. She then expanded, and attended local craft fairs and events with her goods. As her website, lovemichcollection.com explains, when she began her career in the legal field, “she realized she needed a solution to the sweaty cups holding her daily iced coffees in the office.”
“After some trial and error, she created the perfect pattern using hand picked and well thought out materials that not only worked, but transformed the cup into an accessory rather than an eyesore,” the website explains.
Provencher explained that while she began her career life as a paralegal with the intention of becoming a lawyer, however she knew she wanted to do something creatively.
“I do truly love the legal world and enjoyed my time as a paralegal. I also love testing my former legal knowledge when I can! But, I always knew I wanted something more for myself creatively,” Provencher explained to Reminder Publishing. “I am a creative person to my core and I needed that outlet to function.”
Though she said she loved her legal career, Provencher said her purpose was to achieve the goal of becoming a paralegal, to work in the position for however long she needed to, to fund her fashion line and business.
With each year that’s passed since her business began, Provencher notes, her business has grown. She explained that they do very little advertising, so her business growth can be attributed to “almost all word of mouth.” With over 16,000 followers on Instagram, Provencher has garnered quite the social media following.
“While I’m grateful to have ‘numbers’ in our social media following, it’s all about fostering a community for us. A place where people can connect and support each other. Our community loves to share their LMOTD (Love Mich of the day) and match their outfits or other accessories to their cozy and share photos of the Love Mich collections, which makes my heart burst with love,” Provencher shared.
Over the course of her business growing, Provencher has had the opportunity to participate in offering her products as gifts to celebrities attending GBK’s New York Fashion Week Luxury Gift Lounge and the 2014 GBK MTV Movie Awards Gift lounge.
"I am part of an artisan group that is presented with opportunities to participate in these events,” Provencher said. “The ones I have chosen to participate in have been great in spreading the word about Love Mich.”
Over the years, Provencher has grown from handling the business herself to now having many employees.
“Early on in growing my business, I heard a piece of advice that said, ‘Do what you do best and hire out the rest.’ I often refer back to that to remind myself that although I can do every task within the business, it doesn’t mean I should. My time is best spent continuing to grow the business,” Provencher explained. “It was a hard but necessary decision for me to hire seamstresses to take over the bulk of the production work and it was the best decision I made!”
Continuing, Provencher noted that she learned that as a business owner, she wants to grow and scale her business, and recognizes she can’t also be the primary laborer of her business. Her team now consists of several seamstresses who put together the products in Massachusetts, as well as studio associates who handle packaging, order processing, shipping, photography and other tasks.
Speaking of seamstresses, all of Love Mich’s fabric print products have hand-drawn designs, many of which are hand drawn by Provencher, with some drawn by independent designers all over the world. Her new products are released on a quarterly schedule, and within that release, are multiple designs for coffee cozies.
“When I am designing and curating a collection of prints to become our next release, the inspiration can come from anywhere. Sometimes I have an idea for a color scheme I want to work within or a specific print,” Provencher explained. “I try to let the process happen as organically as possible. Which can be difficult when we’re working with deadlines, but as any other creative person knows, you have to let the creative mind work in its own way.”
For example, cozy designs that were included in recent releases feature a black and white notebook–style print, a 90’s doodles print, and a yellow plaid that is reminiscent of the iconic yellow blazer and skirt ensemble that Cher Horowitz wore on the movie “Clueless.”
Prior to the quarterly release schedule, which began in 2019, Love Mich did monthly releases.
“Each type of release has its pros and cons, but we shifted to the quarterly release in an effort to try and be able to restock some sold out prints before our next release, as we typically did not restock much before that. With the quarterly schedule, fans have a second chance to try and snag their favorite prints before we move onto the next collection,” Provencher explained the release schedule. She further noted that within quarters, the business also occasionally offers limited edition releases, including a recent fourth of July inspired release.
For those who would like to learn more about The Love Mich Collection, or to keep apprised of new releases, Provencher suggests following the business on social media. She noted that the next release will be a restock of a few spring collection cozies, which will occur by the end of July. She also said Love Mich will be releasing tumblers as well, which “pair so great with our cozies,” she said. The summer collection is slated to release in early August. She noted that shutting down due to COVID–19 for a few months put the business back on their release schedule.
While the virus may have provided a few small setbacks, Provencher has high hopes for the future.
“I hope to grow our Love Mich community, expand our product line, and our avenues of business to possibly include a flagship storefront with attached coffee shop,” Provencher shared. “I also have dreams of doing a U.S. tour, exploring the country and introducing our products to each state as we make our way through.”
The Love Mich Collection can be followed on Instagram at lovemichco, on Facebook at The Love, Mich Collection. Products can be purchased at https://lovemichcollection.com.