Muse & Melrose: The Fashion Brand Powered By Friendship

Not every friendship can turn into a fashion brand but when two girls have the talent, the link up becomes forever.  Dimara Thomas (Mara) and Kalisha Shonta turned their love of  fashion into a stylish digital boutique, all fueled by their blossoming friendship.  Launched in 2016, when both young ladies were only 20 and 22 years old, Muse and Melrose has become more than a passion project but a lifestyle of dedication towards style and business goals.

Our mission is to make each client who wears
a garment of ours to feel like their our “Muse”
while providing them with a world class
shopping experience.
— Muse & Melrose

“Find your muse” by sifting through the modern pieces and looks featured on the Muse & Melrose website and then, wear your muse accordingly. The styles offered by Muse & Melrose range from hot trends to classic designs. After only being in business just a few short years the ladies have taken their brand to new levels. They have secured celebrity endorsements as well as corporate sponsorship.

Running a business can make running life feel like an Olympic race and these two ladies manage to keep the pace. I caught up with Mara and Kalisha and got some insight on the background of Muse & Melrose, being young business women and more. Read the interview below:

Tell me more about a friendship became a business partnership. Was there an “a-ha” moment ?

Our friendship began when we first met at BCBG (where we both worked at the time) . We both realized that we shared the same interests and love for fashion and that we both wanted to become girl bosses! As our friendship grew, that "a-ha" moment came and we decided to become girl bosses together!

How as the Muse & Melrose affected your friendship ?

Muse & Melrose has made our bond and friendship grow even stronger, we are going through this journey together! It feels great to know that we both have each others back through it all!

What are each of your areas of expertise ?  

Mara is very skilled and strong when it comes to the operations area of the business. She helps keep the website content fresh and updated, as well as communicating and maintaining our relationships with our vendors, buyers, and manufacturers. Kalisha handles the logistics, which is all things involving shipping, returns & exchanges, as well as the styling for all photo-shoots, video-shoots, appearances etc.

What challenges have you faced being black women breaking into the fashion industry ?

We have faced many challenges being black women breaking into the fashion industry, one being that we are so young.  When we launched Muse & Melrose, Mara was 20, and Kalisha was 22 so it was a little difficult for some people to take us serious. I guess because we were so young and still in college most people thought we weren't serious about our company, which gave us motivation to go even harder for our brand!

Have any other business models failed before Muse and Melrose ? What work got you to this point ?

We both started individual projects of our own at one point, Mara started her own youtube channel, and Kalisha launched her own style blog. Both projects did not necessarily fail, we both decided that we should put all of our time and energy into taking our brand to the next level!

What is the hardest aspect of running a business and how do you overcome it?

The biggest challenge that we both currently face is working full time jobs while working endlessly on our brand! There are days that we schedule our breaks and lunches at the same time to have conference calls, answer emails etc. We overcome our challenges by staying positive, never losing our faith in God, and continuing to go hard for our brand!

How do you ladies celebrate wins ?

We celebrate our by first thanking God, and we also like to give back to others! Every blessing we receive we feel as we should pay it forward

Who are your style and business inspirations ?  What kind of girl do you hope to inspire ?

We are inspired by so many girl bosses such as Conna Walker, who is the CEO of House of CB, Nicholelynel, Jai Nice, Milano Di Rouge, Ming Lee, Karen Civil, and the list goes on. We get inspiration from any individual who has built their business from the ground up! It feels like we have a special connection with them simply because we are on that same road to success just as they were!