In collaboration with FELIZ, we’re highlighting five of the designers who will be showcasing their wares at the biannual pop up market happening on December 9th. Get to know the makers and their journey with entrepreneurship before visiting them at the sale in December!
For the final interview in our series we had a conversation with Carson Monahan, the founder and designer behind House of St. Clair. With a background in design, retail, and visual merchandising, Carson used his experience to launch his own clothing and lifestyle brand.
“House of St Clair is a new-ish menswear line in a town that has great style,” The curators of FELIZ tell us. “We think they shine above the rest for their attention to history and culture in their designs while maintaining easy wearability that looks great on men and women. We’re excited to welcome them as new FELIZ vendors and hear about their recent travels to London and Marrakech!”
Below, discover what Carson thinks is the most unexpected part of opening House of St. Clair, where he finds inspiration, and what his best advice is for starting a creative business.
Tell us about your background. What were you doing before House of St. Clair, and what led you to start the business?
I grew up working for my dad’s seafood market in Michigan (still work the holidays when I can). He taught me the meaning of hard work and dedicating yourself to a craft. Both my parents are artists and have practiced design throughout their careers. As a kid, I was super into music, graffiti, skating, basketball, and reflecting that lifestyle through what I wore and presented myself in. I thought doing something fashion related was cool from an early age. Before HOSC I was designing for a different line and working in retail / visual merchandising. Ultimately I had to branch out and start my own line, which has always been a dream of mine.
What has been the most unexpected part about owning a business?
There has been a lot, but the most pleasant and unexpected part of the job is seeing the response to things we’ve built. After the grind of getting something to market, I am deeply humbled to hear a positive reaction.
What does a typical day look like for you?
The one daily certainty is that every day is completely different from the last, faced with new challenges and hurdles for which we have to problem solve. It can be stressful, but it’s also what makes owning a small business interesting and intellectually challenging. Overcoming the hurdles is very fulfilling and motivating.
As an independent designer, where do you go for inspiration? What fuels your creativity?
Inspiration can present itself anywhere. There isn’t a day which doesn’t provoke some form of inspiring thought or experience. I try to travel as much as possible, which is always a huge inspiration – seeing how people dress and live in different parts of the world has always fueled how I approach design.
How do you think markets like FELIZ play a role in the small business community?
Markets like Feliz are such a huge and important opportunity for small guys like us. The exposure and community it creates cannot be found in any other setting. As we grow our brand there is nothing more important than getting out there and seeing new faces!
Is there anything you’re currently reading or listening to that’s been an inspiration for you or your business?
I recently read Shoe Dog, the founder of Nike, Phil Knight’s memoir. It is absolutely insane. It really shows the dedication and passion you have to have to start something from nothing and grow it. Highly recommend! I’m currently in the process of designing our AW19 collection and typically I get into a genre of music while I do. It’s not intentional, it just kind of happens. This season it’s a lot of electronic – Shigeto, Mount Kimbie, Heathered Pearls to name a few.
What is your best advice for someone who wants to start a creative business?
Be super passionate about the field you’re in. Seems obvious, but you’ll only make it if you love what you’re doing enough that you’ll love it when you hate it. There will be extreme highs and lows and you’ll have to navigate those with a level head so that you remain fulfilled and motivated during the most challenging times. Know that all of the hard work will pay off and nothing can beat the fact that you’re adding something to the conversation of the world. Don’t be afraid to follow your heart and take chances. Be authentic and true to yourself and believe! The rest will follow.
Learn more about House of St. Clair and shop the line at houseofstclair.com, and follow along with them on Instagram @houseofstclair. And visit them in person by shopping at FELIZ this Sunday, December 9th at Palm Door on Sabine!
Store images by Nick Berard, courtesy of House of St. Clair.