Melissa Gross: Be Gross!
Americanoizers, we are back with our exclusive Interviews!
This week we have met the powerful girl, entrepreneur, strong, American Apparel family member Melissa Gross who had the courage to jump in the clothing industry with her own label Gross and revolutionizing the classic scheme of selling on-line. Let’s read her interview!
Name: Melissa Sarah
Last name: Gross
How have you shaped the person you’ve become? Is there one person who has influenced you most powerfully?
I would have to say that losing my mother at a young age has made me recognize the other people in my life that have shaped it most. I lost my mother at 13 years old, and ever since then, my basketball coach, my aunts, my uncles, and cousins have all done so much for me in shaping my character, strength, creativity and determination. I would say, my cousin Dov Charney has influenced me most powerfully to think outside the box, be the utmost human, to love the freedom you can create for yourself, and never stop working hard to achieve your dreams.
What have you inherited from your family? Which is the best value that helped you to grow?
My father never fails to remind me screaming proud; “That you are a GROSS!” I inherited so many things from my family. I come from four unbelievably determined beautiful grandparents, fourteen aunts and uncles and twenty five cousins! Not only is my family large and in charge, we were raised inseparable, and the love we have for each other in itself is the best value that we inherited from our family tree and what we all hold the closest to our hearts. We were raised with immense family values, and tremendous ambition and will to succeed. My grandfather Joseph (Jerry) Gross, is one of the most amazing entrepreneurs in my eyes; engaging in the development and founding of Serta Mattresses in Canada. My cousin, Dov Charney, founding and developed American Apparel. These people are true revolutionaries. They have shown me the strength and perseverance does make it happen. That no matter what you can get there, and you can dream a dream to make happen.
You are very young, consistent and focused, what does move you in this adventure of your new brand Gross?
I left American Apparel during its separation from my families control, and for months, woke up in Los Angeles on my own terms and schedule, to realize my love for factory life. I was truly amazed by the open minded, creative nature of the environment American Apparel showed me, Dov showed all of us. I just had to recreate that freedom for myself. I love fashion, I love design, and I love innovation. After months of working with my talented brother, David Gross, on what would really revolutionize the industry, he pushed me to see that just an everyday brand, the same as the rest is not what the world wants or needs. We spun up the idea; Gross World clothing would attempt to be a full custom catalogue of relevant styles that can be ordered in any color you want. There are many more features of the business that sets it apart from others. But these are some stories, and bits of info that show what motivated me to do what I love, and follow the dream I have of building this business to be great!
What sparked your interest in fashion?
My birthplace of Montreal is definitely where my love for fashion began. In fact, in my home, is where it all started for me. My late mother Marla Miller and Bubby, Mavis Singer Miller loved to shop! These woman adored each other too, and showed me what a real fun day out really meant. They would excite me constantly with their favorite things to do; Go to New York to shop and buy exclusive brands and things not available in Canada, and of course go to Chabanel street in Montreal; famous for being the street housing the cities bulk of wholesale distribution and manufacturing businesses. They were always inspiring my taste, and showing me the best of life on these adventures. Perhaps my love for clothing stems back to these fond memories buying and choosing them with my loved ones and feeling great about it.
When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career as a fashion designer?
When I was the most desperate in life to figure out how to live, strive and survive, I stopped pursuing school, as it just was not going to make me happy. It was the only thing I knew however, and really I didn’t have any idea I would land up in fashion until I worked for Dov. He just had a way of making business fun that maybe I was tricked into it for all I know. It is a super intense business, and at most times, when you are a manufacturer, you wonder why the hell you ever tried to do it in the first place. Those moments are all worth it when you taste a bit of success, see the faces you inspire everyday, and those people you feed by keeping your idea alive. I love this industry, but at large I love the fact that I can evolve, and do so much more than “just this.”
What did you wear to your first interview?
I wore all Gross clothes; A dusty rose dyed denim jacket, a pfd short sleeve fleece bomber, a mock neck gross tee and a Los Angeles Apparel yellow tennis skirt. 😛
What was your biggest joy when going out and starting your own line?
The biggest joy of starting your own line is seeing its purpose come to life. The world doesn’t necessarily need more clothing, but it does need more innovation, change and adaptation. I hope my project changes the way we manufacturer and wholesale basic blank streetwear to the global community at large. That would make me so proud.
What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?
Trying to wait until everything is perfect is always the rookie mistake. Nothing will ever be perfect. It will always be evolving. Very important to stay confident, focused and believe in yourself.
What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
Social media is a heavy player for fashion. It is the largest platform for proliferation today. It’s creative importance in our everyday lives is real, whether or not the content is played up, edited or “fake life.” The ability to find muses, expand your customer base and really communicate with your customer is an amazing tool for growth. People think however that it is the single most important, and I do not. I believe the true test is the product directly. The product must be the most important, because if social media was gone tomorrow, the tangible product can still remain.
What is your favorite part about being a designer?
I love execution. Design are ideas. Execution is my real test of being an actual designer. If I can get it done, and it looks right; the completion of a piece of art is as gratifying as sex, if not more.
How do you want your customers to feel when wearing your clothes?
Comfortable, unique, and themselves. Gross clothing is all garment dye washed, leaving it super worn and vintage feeling, adding tremendous comfort. The fact that you choose your own color, is an automatically unique and a true statement of ones desires and feelings.
Are there any types of clothing that you avoid wearing?
I avoid wearing tank tops and shorts usually. I am a northeastern, Canadian raised gal, and I love layering, and don’t love my legs. lol
What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
I am fascinated by my cousin Dov Charney’s new factory for Los Angeles Apparel. He truly blows my mind, and continuously pushes and inspires me. The fabrics he is innovating for my line, and so many others are constructed uniquely by him and his skill set. He makes me so proud.
What would you like to achieve before the end of the year?
Launching my brand new website for www.grossworld.com, and getting the wholesale line active and selling in stores by 2019!
Are you superstitious or do you have any rules you live by?
Steve Hash, an artist in LA and a great friend of mine once told me; “Keep your side of the road clean.” Meaning to me; always do right on your end, and your karma will be good to you, and no one can remember you for anything but your authenticity and professionalism if you stick by that.
What’s your motto?
Be Gross. Think Gross.
Thank you Melissa!