Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Haimowitz Clouse.
Hi Melissa, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
About ten years ago I moved to Michigan for my Masters’s in Fine Arts at Cranbrook Academy of Art and fell in love with the area and my now husband. My art focuses on self-empowerment, inclusivity in our communities, and celebrating diversity while using aesthetics from pop and folk-art traditions. In 2017 I launched The Brave Wimp turning my art practice into a brand selling eco-conscious, affordable, and wearable art pieces and homewares; a year later it became my full-time job and shortly thereafter my husband joined the company.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has been anything but a smooth road, but it has been an adventure I’m so happy to be on. After launching the company with an online fundraiser, I purchased a membership (using almost all the funds raised) to join a maker space for access to laser engravers to create my pins and jewelry. Not even a year later the maker-space went bankrupt and overnight I lost the main tool for creating my products. It was a struggle to have inventory that year but with help from the community we made it through.
In 2020 we had the opportunity to expand the retail store and after being open for three business days in our new space the world shut down from the coronavirus; it was the scariest business moment to date. I was 10 weeks pregnant and the retail store is our family’s main source of income. It was a very difficult time but I will forever be thankful to all the people that purchased my coloring book to keep themselves entertained during the lockdown.
As you know, we’re big fans of The Brave Wimp. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Every design in the shop starts with a lapel pin or portrait from my coloring books. From there we create earrings, necklaces, apparel, greeting cards, stickers, and more. Everything in the shop is created with consideration for the environment and the techniques used in production. All accessories are created from wood sourced in the Midwest; we laser engrave, hand paint, and assemble every piece in our home studio. Most of our apparel is reworked vintage: tie-dyed tees, sweaters, and denim jackets. Even art prints and greeting cards are printed on recycled paper.
The Brave Wimp is known for making people feel celebrated for being their true selves. Every product is a bold and graphic design, from the Big Butt Club pin that comes in three skin tones to the slice of Detroit-style pizza. Our pins are a quick pop of personality and art to wear in your everyday life.
I am so proud that the brand is celebrated in the community because people see it as a reflection of themselves. I always strived to make art that discussed diversity and the struggles of being othered and The Brave Wimp has become a place where we celebrate our differences but in being inclusive, we’ve created a community of more Brave Wimps than I could’ve ever hoped existed.
Our retail store is located inside the Rust Belt Market and is open Friday-Sunday. Online shopping 24/7
We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
I would define personal success as finding your true self and living your life accordingly in a way that doesn’t hurt others and aims to leave the world a better place. Business success would be making enough money to be able to pay the bills, cover our basic needs, and enjoy life.
- Pins $12
- Jewelry starts at $14
- Clothing starts at $28
- Website: www.thebravewimp.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thebravewimp/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thebravewimp/
- Other: Etsy Shop: www.thebravewimp.store