Maker Profile: Milicent Armstrong, Owner of Artemis Design Co - Boston
Hi Milicent! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
A passion for collecting, faraway travels, and love of all things beautiful has led me to source and design my collections. I guess I would say that I started my design career very young - making and selling anything I could get my hands on. As a young child I knitted scarves, bottled homemade perfume, fabricated votive candle holders out of shells and rocks, and sold all of these creations to my friends and family. Now, as an "adult" with Artemis Design Co, I have a more refined and sophisticated outlet to sell fine, finished products, like our kilim shoes and handbags!
What was your first job?
I always had little businesses as a child. My first job working for someone else was doing gardening work in high school for neighbors and family friends. In college, I worked at our local museum and at a couple of different clothing stores. My first job out of college was working as an art consultant at a gallery in New York.
What led you to begin Artemis Design Co?
It’s always been a goal to own my own company and create beautifully designed products. Once I came up with a product that people stopped me on the street to inquire about, it gave me a final push to take a leap and start Artemis.
Tell us more about the origins of the brand’s name.
Artemis is the Greek Goddess of the hunt - since my brand is all about hunting for exotic textiles, I felt that it suited the brand. Also, my mother’s company was named after a Greek Goddess (Galatea), so I wanted to follow in her footsteps in that way.
How do you source the materials you use for your products?
Lots of searching, research, and good suppliers!
Can you go a bit into your design process?
The products need to be flattering, charming, and make the wearer feel beautiful and comfortable. I’m not into anything that’s too trendy, and anything we create has got to be something the customer can wear all day long and be comfortable in.
Do you have a team? What steps did you take to build it?
Yes, we have an amazing Graphic Designer - Lena. She oversees our Brand Experience - everything from photography, to customer care, to designing layouts on the site. Since we are a (very) small company, we all do a bit of everything, which keeps things interesting! We also usually always have an intern here, who gets involved with everything we are working on. Here is a bio on our team.
We are also hiring. We just listed 7 positions all over the country on our "careers" page.
How do you connect with your neighborhood/community?
I’m friends with a lot of other small women business owners/freelancers in the community. Having them to talk shop with, and get advice from is so important to me. Everyone is incredibly supportive of one another in Boston.
What is your favorite thing about your workspace?
It’s very big and open, and we have a lot of beautiful plants in the space!
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
Hearing from our customers how much they love the products is everything to us. Our customers write to us daily telling us about how much pleasure the shoes are bringing to their lives - it is an awesome feeling! Also, creating a tangible, beautiful product has always been something that I’ve felt passionate about - every time we open up packages from our manufacturers, it feels like Christmas!
What tools or resources have been most helpful for you in the development of Artemis?
Both of my parents started and ran their own businesses - I’ve been so fortunate to have their support and access to great business advice from them. Friends and customers have been an incredible resource - word of mouth has been our best source of advertising!
What creative women do you find inspiring?
There are so many, but I mainly draw inspiration from any women out there, doing her thing and not caring what other people think (and especially those women who help & encourage other women to do the same).
What have you learned from owning your company that you think can apply to any creative endeavor?
If you are feeling stuck, just get started - inspiration will come along in the process!
What are you looking forward to in the coming months?
I am so excited about launching our children’s shoe line. They are mini versions of our Havana Smoking Shoes, and are unisex.
How do you manage a work/life balance?
I try to not use my phone when I am not working. On the weekends and when I get home from work I try to put my phone/computer in a drawer and not get sucked into the news/instagram/my emails, etc! I always leave it at home when I go out to eat with my fiance or friends, or even when I’m walking my dog.
What are some of your favorite places in Boston?
Museum- Isabella Stewart Gardner museum
Restaurant- Coppa, in the South End
Cafe- The Buttery
Shopping- I love Dress on Beacon Hill, Oona’s for vintage (and awesome new) clothing in Harvard Square, Follain for cosmetics and skin care, Olives & Grace for gifts, and shopping at the Sowa market for antiques.