…stop looking at it as “ME” but as “WE”. It’s been so hard for women to succeed and be taken seriously that it became instinctive for us to think of only ourselves when trying to get ahead and not look at the bigger picture. Society forced us to develop this competitive nature towards everyone, including each other. We need to always support and encourage one another. As I got older I began to realize that society naturally causes women to have a competitive and jealous nature towards each other. It’s time we show encouragement and love for each other.
I had the pleasure to interview Michela Tebano. Michela is the owner of the new luxury boutique, The Artist Outpost in East Harlem. She is passionate about art, fashion, culture, and supporting the local uptown community. Michela began her fashion career at FIT and later landed her first job in sales at one of the most prestigious showrooms in NYC. Soon after, she became a stylist to celebrity clientele before leaving fashion to focus on her career in the field of acupuncture. Since childhood, Michela dreamed of opening a boutique like The Artist Outpost — a one-of-a-kind space to shop, but also to host collaborative events for artists and brands, allowing them to connect and share their amazing work and art.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Coming from a small town in upstate Ny, I moved to Nyc in 2002 at the age of 17 to attend FIT. I was filled with Carey Bradshaw dreams and was determined to achieve this no matter what it took. Within 2 months of studying advertising and marketing I landed an internship with one of the most prestigious showrooms in NYC. Shortly after I began my internship they hired me to do sales for the 12 lines we represented. All of a sudden I was in thrown into this exciting world that incorporated fashion, music, art, and all the elements that make Nyc the unique city that we have the privilege of living in. We were this cutting edge showroom that was incorporating the downtown, raw skate scene into an upscale setting of the stuffy upper east side, and we were selling to buyers from a vast range of stores that wasn’t typical in that time. Back then there was a separation from a store like Yellow Rat Bastard to one like Bloomingdales. I was in the front end of this new transition where streetwear could now be considered high fashion. Today you have collaborations like Supreme + Louis Vuitton and Kith + Versace who are doing this exact thing of incorporating those two worlds together.
I dreamed of one day opening a boutique resembling “The Artist Outpost” I wanted to create a space that housed artists, designers, musicians, and activists all in one setting. It took me another 12 years with a hiatus from fashion into a career of acupuncture before I was able to open this unique space that I look at as my home.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I wouldn’t say this is an “interesting story”, but I have learned a lot of interesting things that have happened in the fashion world since I left it in 2006. For starters the younger generation has flipped the role on what they look for as far as the fit of the garment. Back when I was in the fashion world the girls were wearing low rise jeans, belly shirts, and the more skin you showed the better it was. Men were wearing everything oversized and baggy with no shape to it. Somehow I missed out on a time frame when the style transitioned to girls wearing everything oversized and baggy and men wanted slim cut, tight fitting jeans. The roles have reversed, and I love this because it also represents everything about the “Me Too” movement. We don’t have the traditional gender roles anymore and it even shows in our fashion trends.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I first started my design concept for The Artist Outpost I worked with an interior designer to help me bring my ideas to life. I was so focused on the custom displays and designers I would want to carry that I forgot to mention that I would need an inventory room to store all my boutique’s products. To be completely honest it was only this last month that I added a real inventory room to the space. Until then I was using my tiny office to store all my stuff to the point that my office door could barely open. I think the landlord took such pity on me that he had an area built out for me that became my official storage room.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
I would say to stop looking at it as “ME” but as “WE”. It’s been so hard for women to succeed and be taken seriously that it became instinctive for us to think of only ourselves when trying to get ahead and not look at the bigger picture. Society forced us to develop this competitive nature towards everyone, including each other. We need to always support and encourage one another. As I got older I began to realize that society naturally causes women to have a competitive and jealous nature towards each other. Its time we show encouragement and love for each other.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
I would say to never let your ego get in the way. Always listen to what other women have to say and give them a voice to be heard.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My grandmother. She was raised in Italy during the time of Mussolini, WW2, and a time when women were viewed as commodities and weren’t allowed to go to school. She came to this country with my grandfather when my father was 15 years old. My grandmother, who I am also named after, never learned to speak English but was still able to find a job as a tailor in a laundromat making only $2.50 an hour. I’ll never forget the tiny diamond earrings she saved up to buy me as a gift for when I made my confirmation. She wanted me to own diamonds and to have what she never had in life, so for her to be the one to give them to me made her feel proud to spend her hard earned money that way. I don’t think I ever saw her sit down for a minute to relax. She was always cooking, cleaning or working in poor conditions that one can’t fathom in this day and age, yet she still took such pride in her appearance. She would gift me her old heels and I would spend hours practicing to walk in them in my parents driveway. She was the representation of classy, hard working and strength. My grandma was soft spoken, prayed often and today would be overlooked in this newer generation of the Me too era. But the truth is her soft spoken voice was heard louder to me than anyone else’s voice. She taught me that there is no obstacle in life that is too hard to overcome and to do so while looking like the image of class and perfection.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
A movement of Loving as One. A movement that treats people of all colors, genders, races, sexual preferences, and identities, AS ONE.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Simplest question so far! I quote Sophia Loren, “everything you see I owe to spaghetti”. While It seems silly to choose this quote it actually represents my entire existence. Coming from an Italian immigrant family that escaped poverty and famine, I learned that anything is possible if you work hard enough and want it bad enough. While the journey isn’t easy when trying to achieve ones dream, eating spaghetti will always make it better.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Marie Kondo. My lifestyle is the polar opposite of everything she represents. She would have a field day with me if she ever saw the amount of clothing and shoes I own. No exaggeration, I have 2 apartments, a storage facility and now a store filled with all my clothes that I’ve collected throughout the years. I have tried to clear out the clutter and rid myself of all these possessions but each time I try I end up reminiscing of where I was when I bought this piece of clothing and each piece I pick up has a story of its own. If I could meet her Id pick her brain and see how she determines which of her possessions spark joy and happiness because for me it seems all of my possessions seem to do so.