Why play the game when you can make your own rules? That’s the story of Theresa Mejeed, co-founder of New York’s Rise Art&Design (RiseAD). A lawyer by trade, Theresa started her career unconventionally by starting her own law practice directly out of law school, shaping her entrepreneurial spirit. She expanded her business into licensing with the NBA and other professional sports leagues with Rise Sport and runs an indie music label, which has sold music around the world. Now, Theresa brings the best of artist collaborations to the forefront with RiseAD textile and print collaborations. Learn more about the lawyer-turned creative as we discuss gaps in the market, art in eyewear and diversity in fashion.
How did you start an eyewear brand?
I was introduced to our eyewear manufacturer while we were working on a sports licensing project, which led to launching our sports eyewear collections. While expanding from sports into fashion, we recognized a void of color and colorful designs in sunglasses frames, which was a factor in launching our Rise Art&Design eyewear brand.
What is your brand aesthetic and what makes your brand unique?
The mission of RiseAD is to UNITE people through art, collaborating with artists & designers to create Luxury Art Eyewear. Through our innovative approach, we infuse elements of original artwork into our frames, creating collections which stand out in a sea of a trifecta of black, brown and tortoise frames that dominate the eyewear landscape.
What is your fashion and style philosophy?
My style philosophy is to wear what makes you feel good and that you can wear with confidence. But whatever it is, you have to own it. And there’s nothing wrong with a splash of color.
What inspired your latest collection?
Our Textiles & Prints Collection was inspired by designs and textiles from some of our fashion designer collaborators. We partnered with another Nineteenth Amendmendment designer KAER Brooklyn for some of the patterns in this collection. The florals were inspired by images from [KAER Designer Marianne’s] family garden in Denmark. The frames infused with camo designs were inspired by a designer who combines urban aesthetics with contemporary art production. And the Mosaic designed print was inspired by Hanoi ceramic and rich fabrics discovered during the travels of an illustrator, milliner and Asian streetwear designer.
Can you tell us a bit more about the artists / designers you choose to collab with and why?
Our current collections include artists from multiple mediums, from a Brooklyn Street Artist whose work resembles shards of glass to an abstract painter whose work bursts off of our translucent and transparent frames. I’m very excited about our upcoming collaborations with a Chicago sculptor who is the co-founder of The Floating Museum and a 21st Century Master Painter from Ghana. And we’re always looking for new collaborations with artists and designers who work stretches boundaries.
What are your biggest hurdles in building a brand today?
The biggest hurdle is balancing have enough inventory, increasing distribution and gaining more exposure for our brand.
What do you think about fashion today?
I don’t think there are enough diverse voices in fashion today when it comes to the main distribution outlets. This is why it’s so important to find sales outlets that are looking for unique brands that speak to multiple consumers. There seems to be too much of the same thing, which translates to one size fits all, for all shapes and sizes.
Where do you go and what do you do for inspiration?
My inspiration comes from everywhere – art galleries, museums, print magazines (I love the feel of the pages), and definitely from the diverse runways of NYC’s streets.
Any tips and tricks of the trade?
Selling is the most important part of this business. No matter how fun marketing can be, if you’re not selling, you’re not in business.
Grab your design-driven, stand-out specs now: