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it's Karen from Mishalulu

Wednesday, 22 October 2008 by Irene Hoofs

Please meet Karen Salazar from Misha Lulu … a wonderful children's brand founded by Karen and her husband Joe ... with help from family members, like grandma Chol and daugther Isabela, Karen and Joe have created the beautiful brand, Misha Lulu, which is still growing and expanding every year ... they are constantly inspired by their latin-american background, art and nature when designing the lovely apparel collection ... I'm very happy they have opened up their doors for us and give a little insigt in their inspirational home ...
{Karen in her kitchen}
1.) Welcome Karen, can you tell us a bit more about yourself, Mishalulu and your background?
I was born in the country of El Salvador.  I studied Graphic Design in San Salvador.  I came to the United States in 1989 to study more Fashion Design.  I’ve always wanted to be a Fashion Designer ever since I was a little child. I remember doing lots of fashion sketches and designing my own clothes.  When I first started my career, there were more opportunities in the area of graphic design. My portfolio at the time, had a very strong graphic presence, so I was offered my first job in the area of t-shirt design,  but in my heart, I knew I wanted to pursue fashion design.  When I became pregnant with my daughter Isabela, I was inspired to design for children. It’s taken me several years to build up the courage to resign from a really great position, which allowed me the opportunity to travel and work with many talented and wonderful people. I still work there on a limited basis - two days a week,  but I’m fully immersed now in the development of the Misha Lulu brand (line).
{the kitchen}
2.) What kind of house do you live in, with whom and what do you really cherish in your house?
I love your kitchen, it looks almost vintage … and you have so many fantastic pieces on your shelves.
Our house is a Spanish style home from the 1920’s - it’s very small, but cozy. I share this house with my husband Joe and our daughter Isabela or “Bela”. We fell in love with this house the first time we saw it - it has a lot of character.  My husband and I have been collecting vintage ceramics for many years. We especially love nostalgic pieces that remind us of our childhood and our backgrounds (heritage).
{the livingroom}
3.) The color blue in your living room looks so special, why did you choose this color? How would you describe your decoration style?
Blue is my favorite color. I own many things in various shades of blue, such as my furniture and clothes. When I was in college, I did a lot of my designs in the color blue. To me blue represents peacefulness and calm, which I attribute to the Sky and  the Ocean.
My decoration style is a mix of both retro and modern.
{Mantel in livingroom}
4.) Can you tell us a bit more about the things on the mantel we see in this image and the artwork above it?
My husband and I love illustrations. The small picture on the left is an original ad for the Electric department in France.  It was made by the team of French artists in 1962:  Lefor Openo. The Blue birds picture, next to it,  was done by a well known local artist named Tim Biskup - it was purchased in Pasadena the day before our daughter was born. The red bull ceramic belonged to Joe’s grandmother Molly. The clock came from El Salvador, it used to belong my grandfather.  The picture of The Madona was a gift from my mother and the various ceramic pieces were acquired through the years.

{the diningroom}
5.) I assume you love collecting vintage pottery, ceramics and other pieces, where do you find them and what attracts you in these items?
We love vintage pottery and ceramics. When I first met my husband, we used to collect more of it, but it’s a lot harder now because our collection is large and our house is small, and also, our priorities have changed.  We’re now more focused on the needs of our daughter and the growth of our business.
From various estate sales, the flea market at the Rosebowl, Ebay from time-to-time, our travels, as gifts and some times from family heirlooms.  We’re attracted to things that are well designed and have great colors.
{Mishalulu workboard}
6.) We would love to hear how and why you started MishaLulu. (where does the name come from)? Your family plays an important role in the business, can you explore a bit on this?
We started the business because we wanted to spend more time with our daughter Bela. When I first became pregnant, our creativity and inspiration was influenced by her presence.
We are a very creative family. My husband, who is also an artist, art directs and inspires me and because he also works a full time job, he can only do a few graphic designs.  But, he does have a hand in all my creations because of his wonderful art direction. Both my mother and my mother-in-law share in the creation of our line - they are wonderful additions to the team.  They each bring  something different because of their talents: Joe’s mother makes all the crochet hats and crochet accents, whereas,
my mother makes the hand painted aprons and hand cut appliqués for most of our clothing.
Our first designs were baby t-shirts with graphics and one of a kind aprons.
The Misha Lulu name comes from my childhood.  When I was a young child, I used to call my self by that name, but I don’t know why I combined those two names together. My only recollections are of my friend calling me by that name.
For me,  Misha Lulu represents a really nice little girl who loves nature and cherishes her friends and animals.  
{workshelves and fabrics}

7.) How do you start creating a new collection, where do you find the right fabrics and what inspiration sources are really important for you?
Our inspirations come from many things: textiles, vintage clothing, my daughter Bela, Nature, our collection of ceramics, ideas from our book collections, movies, the character of Pippi Longstocking, my mother’s house in El Salvador, the country of El Salvador, Europe, vintage toys, our Siamese cat Capa, our Faith, our friends, family and the wild animals that live in the backyard of our house.  The fabrics come mainly from local manufacturers and some times imported fabrics from Japan.  I am still learning how to pick the fabrics.
{Bela her Books}
8.) The design of your website is absolutely gorgeous, who is the creative talent behind all the illustrations, photographs and small details? Are the vintage books like the ones on the shelves an important source of inspiration?
The website is a combined effort of my husband Joe and myself.  I used the sketches and drawings from my clothing line and Joe art directed me on keeping a balance between art and design for the site.
Yes, the vintage books are a great inspiration for us.
Whenever we read to our daughter, we always get inspirations and ideas from what is happening in the story  like “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a hen wearing a dress or the colors on the pages would make a nice addition to the color palettes for our clothing.”
{Bela in her bedroom}
9.) Bela’s bedroom is so beautiful, where does your inspiration for choosing the nice colors on the wall come from? In what way does Bela inspire you for your collections for MishaLulu? Does she ‘advice’ you on what she likes and doesn’t like?
We picked a greenish blue shade for her bedroom because it is very beautiful color and it has a vintage feel to it, and also, I feel the décor that we have really goes really well with it.
Bela plays a very special role in inspirations and the creations of the Misha Lulu line. The line represents a combination of what we remember from our own childhoods and the day-to-day life we currently share with our daughter. Bela loves the Misha Lulu line - she is the character of Misha. Yes, she does.  She advised me on adding shorts to the Spring 09 collection, and a Pirate theme inspired by her favorite character, Pippi Lognstocking.
{Bela her things}   
10.) What are Bela’s favorite items in her bedroom and what was the first present you ever bought for her?
Bela loves her two teddy bears ”Bobby” and “otro Bobby”.   She, also, likes her play kitchen and hand made toy food. Her favorite films are Pippi Longstocking, Mary Poppins, the Sound of Music and Willy Wonka.
And she adores her old books.
The first gift we ever got her were some wooden toys, that we picked up in San Francisco.  They are the  black bird and the fox sitting by the Buenas Noches Luna book.
{Karen alone in kitchen + image of girls wearing Mishalulu clothes}
11.)Finally, what is your magic tip for anyone who would like to start a beautiful children’s fashion label like yours, but doesn’t know how and where to start?
I would say, “Don’t wait too long to pursue your dreams.  It gets harder as you get older because there is so much work involved. It is, however, fulfilling to be able to create something that is totally yours.  Don’t give up even if things get difficult, just keep going.”

..Misha Lulu website..
..Misha Lulu blog..
..Misha Lulu shop..

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