ARTIST INTERVIEW: Haley Boyd of Marais USA
Marais USA is a line of colorful, essential accessories inspired by the Marais district of Paris.
We spoke to founder Haley Boyd about her inspirations and creative process.
What is your background and how have your past experiences fed into your art?
I’ve always been entrepreneurial, but began focusing on fashion when I started a little clothing line in high school called “haley be”. Then while I was studying at Parsons, I found it strangely difficult to find what I thought were very straightforward shoes. I wrote a business plan for a shoe brand offering classic, colorful, French inspired styles and left school to see if I could make it happen.
Finding the right manufacturer has been the hardest part of the business and has had a direct impact on my designs. Until last year, we made our shoes in China; I always struggled with the fast fashion aspect of the business and the difficulty of reaching the high production quantities demanded in Asia. I used to design 30 styles a year, just to meet the minimums. When I moved to LA, I found an amazing factory downtown with lower minimums and superior quality. That gave me the chance to design what I’ve always wanted: an edited collection of just a few classic styles in a slew of fun colors. Our loyal e-commerce customers order enough shoes to reach our LA factory minimums (and then some), so I can focus on simple, beautiful design and not worry about selling many thousands of shoes each season just to keep Marais USA afloat. It’s a really different, freeing mindset. Most brands build up a wholesale business as the foundation of their company, and a lot of people I respect and admire have told me I would be crazy to not invest heavily in that part of the business. I’ve learned to trust my instincts and challenge the often archaic structure of the fashion industry. Times, they are a-changing!
Do you feel that your environment feeds into work and if so, what makes your work distinctively Californian?
Absolutely, I relocated from New York to LA two years ago and have a experienced a big shift in my personal style and work. Living in California has amplified my desire to not only look good but feel good in what I wear. There is a relaxed ease about the way California women dress that I have adopted personally and translated into my designs. More than ever, my creative process is guided by comfort, simplicity, and color.