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Like mother, like son: Micah M by Design

Published:Monday | July 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Krysta Anderson, Lifestyle Writer

They say sons are an anchor to a mother's life, and for local designer Micahacim Wheatle, it was his mother who steered his creative ship towards fashion. "My earliest memory in fashion design was of my mom who is a dressmaker. When I was very young I had to stop by her workplace after leaving school and I spent my time playing around in the cutting and sewing room," Wheatle told Flair.

In high school, he remained focused on the creative field, and despite his lacklustre attitude, he noted, he excelled in art. "I feel that my overall approach to my studies led me on a path to become a fine artist and not pursuing another conventional career."

By the time he enrolled in art at the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts, it was a rest stop for him. However, that was where his career in fashion design really got kick-started. "I got my legs under me while I was in college, and I found the legendary Caribbean designer Barry Moncrieffe, who was the first person to hire me as a designer for his CFW collection.

Soon after that, he embarked on a new journey with a friend, and they opened a modelling agency. During this, he continued to grow his client base in his fashion designing.

He reminisced on the first time he toyed with the idea of design, "Funny enough, the first time I made any thing design-wise was for my cousin, Opal. We were children back then, she had dolls and they needed clothes. I was the only one who knew how to sew, so I made clothes for her."

Fast-forward to 2012, Wheatle made his first real dress and Micah M Design was born. "The first dress I've ever made was for a Miss Jamaica Universe contestant, Christina Gonzalez, who is also my girlfriend. I made the dress used for her first showing, where the girls were officially presented to the media and the public. I collaborated with a friend to make her dream dress for the grand coronation," he explains.

Today, he beams with pride talking about designing suits for recording artiste and entertainer I-Octane, "I have been designing for him for three years now. I created his suits for Reggae Sumfest 2013 and 2014, as well as for his 2014 album launch and for the Youth View Award."

Recently, Wheatle did a mini collection for and styled Duane Stephenson for the photoshoot of his soon-to-be released album. He has also designed and created dresses for Kerine Miller (Rev Al Miller's daughter) and Laura Marley, while for Aaliyah Douglas, he gave life to a design she brought to him.

Determined to pursue his passion, Wheatle tells Flair that he is inspired by his clients, taking into serious consideration their budget as well as their personality, "I am a businessman. I would love to give all my clients the world, but the fact is that the world is costly. When it comes to my designs the first thing I think about is budget. After that, I think of the occasion because that will direct the design focus. I place strong emphasis on my client's personality; that way they get the full effect of what custom garments suit their desires."

With that mindset, he hopes to expand his line to carry multiple ready-to-wear that will cater to different markets and the complexities of those markets. A lover of various art forms, he intends to embrace a more modern style of business by having his company transcend to one that offers his clients a specific lifestyle, and continue to offer custom pieces. "We want to be the fashion air that you breathe."

His insightful advice to upcoming, and even established fashion designers, is to be practical about what you want to do within the industry and be willing to work hard for it, "Fashion is a business just like any other, which means that the idea behind it is to be profitable. Apply appropriate business principles to your process so that you can ensure the prosperity of your brand. Being the best designer in the world means nothing if you are not able to bring your product to the market. Know your strengths and weaknesses, create relationships that will further your goals. And finally, the path to success is paved with hard work and diligence. It's through the repetition of positive work ethics that you will become truly successful. The glitz, glam and flashing lights hold no value in the face of a poor balance sheet. Hard work and sacrifice and not the limelight, are what will ensure your success."