The first time I’ve seen a Mona collection was the fall of 2012. Since then, I’ve followed the label closely, season after season, and even got to style my own Mona dress! The clothes are always retro and dreamy, with eye-catching prints, and the lookbooks feature fabulous backgrounds such as a tapioca greenhouse or the local beach. The lovely designer behind the label is Moriah Hemed. She lives in Tel-Aviv with her family, and she has the cutest brick-and-mortar shop (on 8 Rambam street, if you’re ever in the area). We chatted a little about her small business, her love of handmade, and her creative process. Don’t go any further before checking out the Mona Etsy shop, because there’s a big sale going on right now!
Kittenhood: When and how did you learn to sew?
Moriah: My grandmother always had a sewing machine and I loved seeing her make pretty things on it when I was a young girl, but only when I was 20 years old I really learned how to use it. Later on, she gave it to me.
K: How did you make the leap between a hobby and a full-time business?
M: When I studied fashion design I just knew that I want to open my own business. I wanted to translate my dreams and fantasies into my own line of clothes. So about a year after graduating and working in a designer’s studio learning the “guts” of the business, I decided it’s time.
K: How do you envision the “Mona” girl?
“Mona girls appreciate color, detail, and quality. They aren’t afraid of turning heads with their clothing.”
K: You always use the cutest prints and cuts in your clothes. What inspires you?
M: My process starts with an idea or concept, which grows into a story and eventually translates into a collection. I pick fabrics to complete that story. My inspirations can come from a place I visited, a movie I’ve watched or a dream I had. I always like adding a bit of quirkiness to my collections.
K: How do you know if a design is going to be popular with customers?
M: I have items that I’m convinced will sell out fast but then they don’t, and others that feel a bit riskier and disappear in a heartbeat. I usually know what my customers are looking for, but I always have these unexpected surprises. I try to learn and become more accurate from season to season.
K: What’s an item you really loved making, whether for the shop or outside of it?
M: My sister-in-law’s wedding dress.
K: Do you wear a lot of handmade items yourself?
M: I usually only wear my own designs, but when I don’t, I either wear vintage clothes or handmade items by designers that I love from all around the world.
K: I’ve noticed a lot of talented makers coming from Tel Aviv in recent years. How would you describe the creative scene of your city?
M: Israel is such a small country with so many talented people. After living in NY and visiting a lot of different cities worldwide, I can easily say Tel-Aviv is one of the coolest cities in the world. So much creativity and inspiration in all design fields! The scene is very colorful.
K: What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone would have given you when you first started?
M: Stress less! The process is always stressful, hard and emotional, but the outcome is always so worth it.