We had the good fortune of connecting with Calla Michaelides Lokku and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Calla, why did you pursue a creative career?
I think the why really comes down to a few simple things- I felt called to create! I knew that something felt right, felt connected when I was being creative. Be it dancing, painting, making, planning, sketching, sewing, daydreaming…that’s were I felt a bit of magic. Having parents who saw that in me, encouraged it, and supported my every decision to dive deeper into it and persue it as a career is unequivocally HOW and why I was able to make it my reality. I believe you can absolutely do it without the parental support, however, any form (either from a mentor, peer, or yourself) of early encouragement is so important to developing ones creative self in a full and curious manner.
Growing up, I was always interested in creativity. I loved art class as a kid and spent over a decade in dance classes, performances, and competitions. I was in the Drama Club in high school and spent most of my time behind the scenes helping with makeup and costumes. My parents were always avid supporters of me and my siblings perusing whatever we felt passionate about in our higher education. I believe that it is an extreme privilege to have that kind of familial support especially when seeking out an education in a creative industry. When it was time for me to decide on a college to attend, I decided to take my love for dress and apply to some fashion design programs. I picked three fashion design programs and only applied to those. I got into two of the three (was rejected from FIT in NYC). I ended up attending Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design and graduated in 2015 with a Bachelors of Science in Fashion Design. From there I worked in New York City for five years as an assistant, and then an associate Fashion Designer across a number of different brands, categories, and price points. I have worked with sustainable brands, luxury ready-to-wear, childrenswear, menswear, womenswear, swimwear, lingerie, infant apparel, plus sized womens ready-to-wear, postpartum apparel, commercial apparel, and more! This variety came by way of fulltime work, freelance work, and consulting work. I absolutely loved being able to learn about and work on so many different categories and brands during my time in the Industry. After a few years, however, I realized the Industry (and the city) weren’t exactly for me. I had planned to move on from my career in the Fashion Design Industry just as the pandemic hit and I got laid off. Luckily, I was ready to pivot. I quickly picked up a part time job at a yoga studio which lasted about a week before all of NYC went into full on lockdown. With all of the time in the world, I decided to really go for my creative business which, at the time, was a total hobby/side hustle. Time is the most valuable thing in my life, and having it all “to myself” for the first time, was an incredible scenario for cultivating my craft and exploring my creativity as a visual artist. Here I am now, a year plus into the pandemic and almost a year into my official time as a small business and it is absolutely something I want to continue to evolve and pursue for many more years to come.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art currently consists of paintings, and macramé wall art. Both mediums are highly focused on and driven by color. My macramé wall hangings are all made of hand dyed cording and made slowly with love, each uniquely it’s own. I currently only work on custom pieces and commissions, so each piece is truly unique and one of a kind. I love to interact with and create something specific for someone and their space. My paintings are a bit more laborious and protected. I produce less of them and have a hard time letting them go as they feel a bit more deeply personal. I prefer to paint intimate compositions of the human body (i.e. a torso, hands, hip crease, etc.). I use intensely saturated colors to inspire a feeling of liberation and encourage viewers to celebrate themselves and their bodies. I am also currently working on a series of Intuitive Paintings based solely on conversation with someone. Each painting and each interaction has been different and wonderful. I am really enjoying the glimpses into soul and the gracious opportunity to paint that from my own perspective.
This past year, I am most proud of my momentum. Yes, I have had many blocks, ruts, and moments of burnout, but in lieu of all other “normal” obligations that were cancelled or lessened by COVID I felt I had the time to keep going and push through those moments of block with more persistency. I’m also really excited about the mobility I have gained in navigating my creativity by working on my mental health through counseling.
I got to my position in the Fashion Industry by completing my education, and hustling A LOT for jobs in the city. The fashion Industry can have really high turn over rates of designers hopping from job to job. So I felt like I was always looking for a new job. As many jobs as I applied to online, 95% of my positions were acquired from knowing someone, or getting a referral. It really helps to make connections at each and every job because you never know who will be looking for someone again in the future.
I got to where I am with my personal art and small business by steadily working on it and figuring things out as I go along. I really do believe in just moving through it and creating as much as you can in order to find your own personal style and perspective.
What I would want the world to know about me and my work, what I hope comes across already, is that I am invested in connection. Connection with self, with others, with the whole, with the creative energy, with the Divine. I am not expecting much from my creative endeavors, but I am happy to make, and pleasantly surprised with any “positive” results of my making and sharing. I would love to continue exploring the intersection of creative and mental health and would absolutely love for anyone in these spaces to reach out to me for chats, collaborations, or brainstorming. I just want to keep making! So if you like my work, please reach out!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My Mom and Dad; My childhood dance teacher, Kate; My Therapist; My Fashion Design Professors and University Dance Instructors and Choreographers; My Husband; My friends and Family. “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert; “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown.
Linkedin: Calla Michaelides
I have the rights to all photos- Calla Michaelides Lokku