I Want Your Job: Melody Ehsani, Jewelry And Fashion Designer
Melody Ehsani has a peaceful but assured voice that's a refreshing departure from my often too-loud pitch. Chalk it up to incessant New York City sirens.
The Los Angeles-based designer and I take a minute to trade laughs about the three tries it took before our schedules fell into sync.
I'm immediately entranced by how she's so calm with such an overwhelming schedule.
To be clear, the only thing typical about Ehsani's day is the constant movement, and she seems to prefer it that way.
"When I'm doing design, I'm really excited about the potential of what's happening. I'm constantly inspired," Ehsani admits.
The footwear and jewelry designer is hands-on throughout every step of her self-titled brand. However, her ability to stay laser-focused on both the business and creative sides of her art leaves little time for purposeless leisure.
Ehsani rises at 7 am to pray and meditate. Then, she manages some sort of exercise.
Before lunch, she tackles her ever-growing email inbox and throws herself into various to-do list tasks. They could range anywhere from overseeing production to sourcing materials and finding fabrics.
If necessary, she meets with sewers, casters, molders or anyone else who plays a role in her burgeoning empire.
Directly after this call, she'll jet off to some foreign country for work. Roughly two months after that, Ehsani will announce the release of her third highly-successful sneaker and apparel collaboration with Reebok.
Celebrities clamor to rock the soulful pieces.
"It's hard for me to distinguish myself from the brand," Ehsani, who established her company in 2007, says. "It's the things that I think are really cool in my environment mashed up with my personal journey on this earth as a woman living in LA. Whatever the experience is, whether it's emotional, spiritual or physical."
And different she is.
Ehsani is the first woman to have a brick and mortar boutique on Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles' streetwear mecca. The area was a renowned boys' club before Ehsani showed up. Now, however, women rarely go unnoticed.
If she's being honest, she didn't set out to make a such a mark.
"I never really thought about the things that I was doing," Ehsani admits.
Ehsani's current success proves she's a far cry from her misguided, post-college beginnings.
At 23, she graduated college and applied to law school, a typical choice based on her traditional Persian upbringing. Though Ehsani was unaware of her true passion, she was certain of one thing: She hated rigid schooling.
Quitting was a no-brainer.
"I couldn't imagine being a lawyer for the rest of my life," Ehsani says. "After that, I had about a year where I was depressed, because it was the first time in my life where I wasn't in school. I wasn't working toward anything and I didn't know what I wanted to do."
Ehsani's love for design blossomed after her friends suggested she visit a medical intuitive who could help her find her way.
Though she had trouble accepting assistance at first, the conversation markedly changed the trajectory of her life.
"She said things to me that I'd never said about myself out loud," Ehsani says. "I had one conversation with her and it just felt like someone woke me up."
Before that transformative period, Ehsani hadn't outwardly honed her creative skills.
At the age of 10, her father passed away. The tragedy changed her from carefree kid to responsible young adult. Not to mention, her education wasn't quite as free-flowing or artistic.
Ehsani remembers shutting off her creative impulses in order to take care of household obligations.
"I developed a huge sense of responsibility," she says. "I've always been inventive, but I also had to become practical at an early age."
Ehsani credits her advanced maturity, as well as her faith, for her brand's well-rounded aesthetic and designs.
"My mom was very unlike a lot of traditional Persian parents and let me do whatever I wanted," Ehsani admits. "I started clubbing when I was like 13. I was raised in the Bahá'í Faith, so I grew up around every single kind of person you can imagine with the most diverse backgrounds."
After meeting with the medical intuitive, Ehsani decided to enroll in classes at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena to find the best way to express her passion.
She landed an internship with sneaker company Creative Recreation shortly after finishing a product designs program. There, she learned how to transform her unique, abstract ideas into tangible, specialized goods.
During her internship, Ehsani moved to China for six months and created an "ornate, baroque" line of heels she still reminisces about with pride.
"The founder taught me how to use [Adobe] Illustrator, since I hated drawing," she remembers. "I learned the process of how shoes were made and I wanted to incorporate the sneaker technology into heels for women."
Nowadays, Ehsani's self-assurance is palpable, even from 3,000 miles away.
She readily doles out advice for young women who want to fill her shoes, especially those who have yet to realize their purpose.
"I was the least qualified person to do what I'm doing," she admits. "Everything on paper was against me. But when something is true to who you are, there's no stopping it."
She prays young women take away that same message from every gold hoop, jacket and sparkly sneaker she designs.
"A lot of clothing lines are saying 'You can't sit with us,'" she says. "I just feel like it's already so hard to be women that I want to provide some sort of support."
Her most poignant words of wisdom?
"Trust your own voice. Make sure your voice is the main voice you listen to at the end of the day," she advises.
For now, Ehsani remains a student of her craft and avoids putting too much weight on the future.
Though I tried to get it out of her, Ehsani won't give up her 2016 plans for the brand. She does, however, want aspiring female designers to know one thing.
"It just took one person to wake me up and change my whole life," she admits. "And that's inspiration for me. If I'm able to do that for just one person then I've done my job."