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Issue 17 Out Now

Lia Gabrielle Atelier by Lia Gabrielle Massey

Local Detroit Designer Interview

I had the incredible opportunity of sitting down with Lia Gabrielle Massey this past week and learning about her experiences as a Detroit-based fashion designer with her own brand, Lia Gabrielle Atelier. 

Lia Gabrielle Atelier is a Detroit-based brand focused on womenswear that makes people feel confident in chasing their own dreams. Lia wants people to know that “not only are they a part of the dream I created, but they are also making their own dreams. I want my customers to feel confident and feel like anything is possible, and I think that fashion has the ability to make people feel that way.”. 

Miss. Massey recently graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in apparel and textile design, but her entrepreneurial and creative spirit did not start there. Raised by a local Detroit artist, her father inspired her to pursue a career in the creative industry and showed her that it was possible to be successful. Massey told me, “Seeing someone that comes from the same background as me and being able to be so successful in a creative field really drove me to want the same thing for my life.”.

Since Lia was young, she always had a desire to create, to bring her dreams to a physical form. She told me about her first experiences designing clothing. “My earliest memory was trying to make a pair of shorts out of construction paper, I may not have known what I was doing, but I knew I wanted to create. Later on, my parents sent me to a summer camp, and they had a car come by from Arts and Scraps, and they happened to have a scrap piece of fabric. I remember exactly how it looked; it had vertical lines, black, grey, and white, and I knew I needed to make a dress out of it. I made my first dress at around 7 years old, and I never stopped after that.”

Inspired by her drive to turn her passion to fruition, Miss. Massey looks to her dreams, her experiences, and her life, and translates what she has been through into garments. “I draw inspiration from my life and experience and create an image that depicts who I am and what I have gone through. A few years ago, I did a collection called Revenge. I was having a hard time in life, and the collection allowed me to express how I was feeling. Being able to put my emotions on display, to be vulnerable, just made me feel complete, that I was able to share that with everyone.”

What Massey struggles with as a small business owner? Knowing what to do next. “As an entrepreneur, nobody gives you a road map to what you should do to be successful; you kind of just have to figure it out. Nobody is there holding your hand; you have to make that happen, you have to make the right calls, and you have to know when to say ‘yes’ and when to say ‘no’ to make the best decisions for your brand.”

As a designer rooted in Detroit, the community of small brands and designers trying to make a name for themselves has helped Lia through her journey. Currently working in a shared studio with other local designers, she has been able to open her mind to new experiences, new opinions, and new outlooks. “Creating relationships with friends and other people pursuing similar passions, and making those connections has been a really big part of where I am now. Being able to share artistry and creativity between people that have a similar dream and vision as you just opens up your mind to so many other possibilities.”

Lia Gabrielle will continue to make strides forward, to express herself, her individuality, and to make Lia Gabrielle Atelier the culmination of her dreams and passion. 

To follow along with her journey, her brand, and see what dreams come next, find her on social media @liagabrielleatelier .


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