Wedding designer extraordinaire. Stylist. Florist. Event decorator. Creative genius. All around awesome. These are only some of many ways to describe Michelle Edgemont, a Brooklyn-based wedding designer who specializes in completely unique and custom decorations, floral arrangements, and stylings for couples. Michelle’s self-described modern-quirky style, unapologetic penchant for color and glitter, and unwavering commitment to her clients and her brand are a few reasons as to why her aesthetic is quickly becoming recognizable in the design world.
In 2011, Michelle attended a workshop called Making Things Happen and realized that life is too short to play small and not follow her passions. Thus, she devoted herself to building a wedding design business from scratch, all while working at her full-time job in the fashion industry. Having shared an office with her husband in their previous home, upon moving to their current Brooklyn apartment, Michelle knew she needed her own space where she could surround herself with colors, sounds—like Beyoncé’s tunes—and even smells that would motivate her and allow the creativity to flow. With furnishings and storage accessories that are a mix of new and old, such as a reupholstered polka dot chair and dresser lined with Ikea striped fabric, Michelle’s home studio is not only chic and organized but also budget-friendly. We’re thrilled for Michelle to give us a look into her beautiful home office where design meetings, collaboration, and the creation of lush and whimsical decorations take place.
Name: Michelle Edgemont
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Current title/company: Owner and Designer of Michelle Edgemont
Educational background: BFA in Textile and Surface Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology
Year you started your business: 2011
First, tell us your story. What was your first job out of college, and how did you land it? How did you transition from that position to where you are today?
My first job out of college was designing table linens for a mass market manufacturing company in New York City. I found the job on Craigslist and was lucky enough to be hired even before I graduated. After I grew tired of the home furnishings industry, I transitioned into a textile design job in fashion. For two years, I worked at my fashion industry job during the day and grew my wedding design business at night and on the weekends. Although it was exhausting, it has been such a joy to watch my little company slowly grow to a profitable business.
You now work as a wedding designer. What inspired you to get into this line of work and start your own business?
I have always been a really crafty gal. As a child, I would make crafts and enter them into the State Fair and win blue ribbons. Which, as dorky as it sounds, was exciting as an 11 year old. As an adult, the option to start my own business never really presented itself until I attended Making Things Happen in 2011. It was there that I realized that life is just too short to not be making money at what I love to do. Eight weeks after my father passed away, I helped my sister decorate her wedding. It was one of the first days that everyone in my family was happy and joyful and dancing. I decided that I wanted my life to be about that—families having fun together while two people start a new family—instead of the fast fashion industry.
How did you initially market yourself and your business? What do you believe has led to your success?
I tried to get my name out there as much as I possibly could. I submitted ideas to contribute to blogs that fit my aesthetic and collaborated with other wedding professionals on inspiration shoots. I have always tried to be gracious, patient, kind, and easy to work with. What’s mainly helped me grow my business has been working hard, working efficiently, and only taking on projects that fit with my brand’s modern, colorful aesthetic.
What have been the greatest challenges in working for yourself? The greatest rewards?
The greatest challenge has been building my company while still working at my full time job and still trying to be a good wife. I’ve been learning a lot about establishing boundaries and scheduling in time when I can just sit on the couch and watch a movie instead of working. It’s rewarding to be able to create decorations that are completely my aesthetic. My clients come to be because they want the unexpected, and I work my hardest to provide that to them. Also, working from my couch sometimes in my yoga pants is the best.
The decorations you create for weddings are incredibly beautiful, fun, and truly one-of-a-kind! (I cannot get over the amazing floral installation using 500 carnations!) How do you keep your designs and arrangements fresh and unique?
I try to design projects that challenge myself. If everything I design and install is always easy, then I’ll never learn how to make things better. That carnation installation was a crazy idea that a couple came to me with and I said, “Hell yes, let’s do it!” It took a bit of engineering, some power tools, a few trips to Home Depot, and a very patient assistant to make it all come together. I’m still relatively new in the wedding business, so every event that I decorate, I want to be sure that I’m creating pieces that are different and challenging from anything that I’ve done before.
How would you describe your design style? Where do you look to for inspiration?
I describe my design style as modern-quirky. I love bright colors, simple materials, anything shiny, and unexpected details. My inspiration comes from other areas of design—amazing window displays, fashion show decor, funky jewelry, and graphic design. I also gain inspiration from materials that I haven’t worked with before. For example, I had an inkling to use leather, so I visited a leather shop here in NYC and bought a few scraps. It turned into triangle-shaped table confetti for Blogshop.
You currently live with your husband in an apartment where the spare bedroom is your home office/home studio. How did you come to the decision to take on this project?
Well, I needed my own space! My husband and I used to share a home office, and although I love him and his guitars, it didn’t completely feel like me. When we moved to our current three bedroom apartment, my office was the first room I fully completed. In order to do my best work, I need to be surrounded by colors and textures and smells that I resonate with. Being able to have my own space means that I can burn my candle that smells like the beach, listen to Beyoncé, and hang gold fringe on the walls to my heart’s content.
Your home office/home studio is mostly white with lovely natural light and a myriad of colors that work harmoniously together. I especially love the striped dresser. How did you choose these colors, geometric shapes, and patterns, and what does it achieve?
I craved a space that was a reflection of my aesthetic. One, it’s lovely to bring clients to! Two, being surrounded by things that I love helps me stay motivated. Honestly, I just chose things that I’m visually drawn to! I created the striped dresser doors by putting Ikea fabric in between the glass and back panel of each door. It looks fun and hides ugly clutter.
What was on your checklist when designing your home office/home studio? What were your must-haves, in terms of furniture and accessories, as well as essentials for your design work?
The most important was a standing-height work table in a bright white that’s easy to clean. I chose the table top and legs from Ikea. Second, I wanted an office chair that was comfortable and cute. I reupholstered by old one in this black and white polka dot fabric, and it was instantly given a fresh look. The cork board behind my computer was a definite must have. Keeping images pinned on this board that I love to look at act as constant inspiration for my current projects.
What is your favorite budget-friendly piece or office accessory? Where and how did you discover it? Any favorite sources to find affordable pieces to furnish your office?
Ikea is my go-to for storage accessories, table tops, and table legs. Everything is custom so it’s easy to adapt each piece. Giving old pieces a new lease on life is my best budget-friendly advice. I updated my office chair with a yard of polka dot fabric and a staple gun. The metal flat file I received as a gift from a friend used to be a drab gray. I spray painted the drawers white and the handles gold, now it looks brand new and fits into my mainly white space perfectly.
What do you recommend splurging on? Saving on?
Splurge on the piece of electronics that you need to do your job well. For me, that’s a computer. For a fashion designer, it might be a sewing machine. Spend the extra money for those few added gigs of RAM. The faster my computer is, the more efficient I am with my time. Splurge on other people to do things for you that you’re not good at. For example, I stink at taxes, so I have an amazing accountant. Me not getting a headache over taxes is worth the money that I pay her. Plus, then it frees up more of my time to grow my business. Save on electronics that you need, but are not a professional at. I needed a DSLR camera, but I’m not a professional photographer. I bought the base model, and it has been perfectly capable of taking the photos that I need.
What advice do you have for women who are starting the decorating and organization process but are unsure where to begin?
Oh man, I could talk about this for days. I was definitely overwhelmed when I started trying to organize all of my supplies. The first thing I did was put everything in categories like party supplies, candles, paper, ribbon, etc. Then, I purchased bins and containers that would fit each category and fit on my shelves and in my closet. I threw out a lot, A LOT, of supplies that I’ve been holding onto for the hope that I’ll use them one day in a project. Those “one day” projects never come. The less stuff that’s around, the more space I have in my brain for thinking and creating. Put things in your space that make you happy. Even if your work space is a small corner and not a whole room—that corner can be filled with items that you love.
As a designer, you create such modern and eye-catching decorations. From design to execution, you do everything by hand! What are a few projects you are most proud of? What is the wildest thing you’ve made?
I did the flowers for a wedding this year where the bride’s father had actually passed away a few weeks before mine did in 2010. She told me a story about how they loved to spend time together in the Adirondacks. To honor that memory, I hand painted scenes from the Adirondacks on each of the wooden planters I used for the centerpieces. Some were painted with mountains, some with trees, and some with an awesome moose. Being able to infuse small touches of the couple’s family into the decor that I make is very important to me.
The wildest thing I’ve made is a carnation installation above the bar of the Wythe Hotel. I custom made a wooden hook system that was suspended from the building’s 100 year old beams. Then hundreds of carnations were hand strung to hang upside down over the bar. It looked exactly how I envisioned it. I love when that happens.
You’ve made everything from wedding invitations to marquee letters and geometric mobiles. Walk us through the process of turning a client’s ideas or inspirations into the gorgeous custom creations we see.
One of my favorite parts of designing for weddings is that clients already have amazing ideas that they are excited about. I love to take their ideas and inspiration, add a few of my own ideas, twist it all together with a modern, quirky spin, then create custom decor that really speaks to who they are as a couple. We have a big design meeting to go over how they would like their wedding to look and how they would like their wedding to feel. From there, I use their wedding Pinterest board (if they have one) as a jumping-off point to create a design board and color palette that we use through out the whole design process. We collaborate and discuss their budget and what is most important to them at their wedding. It truly is a collaborative effort between letting their personalities shine through and creating pieces that are beautiful and impactful in their venue
What advice would you give your 23-year-old self?
I graduated with my BFA when I was 23. Yes, I changed my major a million times and it took me six years of full time schooling to get my Bachelor’s degree. I would tell my 23-year-old self that I won’t have to live with roommates for the rest of my life, which is what it felt like at the time.