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Meet Colleen Monroe of Floraloom in Pasadena and Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Colleen Monroe.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Colleen. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
I began working in costume and production design in film and theater in San Diego, New York, and now Los Angeles, learning the art of story-driven design alongside leading creatives on Oscar, and Emmy-Award-winning projects. From a 1920’s jazz bar to a museum where animals came to life at night, we turned words from a script into believable worlds that engaged audiences around the globe.

Working in costume design, I fell in love with the craft behind the scenes – ager dyers, cobblers, master tailors, special effects artists, hat makers, 3D printers, and beyond. To continuing learning, I hosted a costume design podcast for three years interviewing some of the leading creators in film and theater.

I decided to branch out from costume design and create something entirely on my own – a clothing line called Untucked Workwear for women with on-the-go jobs and a commuting lifestyle. I was accepted into a sustainable fashion business accelerator called Factory45 and launched a clothing line on Kickstarter, successfully funding the project by over 150% in a little over a week and was even a featured story in one of the top design websites, Cool Hunting.

With the funding, I went into production and had my pieces manufactured locally with a small factory in downtown Los Angeles and then turned my living room into a fulfillment center, shipping my pieces around the world. To fund my new clothing company, I picked up flower design gigs and began designing florals and installations for film premieres, luxury weddings, and fashion events.

While launching, funding, and shipping out my clothing line, I realized that my floral side hustle was turning into more of a full-time business. Often, my Honda Fit was filled with fabric and flowers as I raced from the flower market in downtown LA to pick up my flower orders and then headed over to my factory to drop off materials for my clothing production order.

Balancing two startup design companies was certainly a marathon of hustle so I decided to start a design studio that combined my florals with fashion. I called my studio, Floraloom to highlight the intricate weaving together of multiple design disciplines that come together to create cohesive, story-driven experiences for my clients.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Starting a company and working as a freelancer is filled with plenty of unknowns because you’re trying to design and build a career from scratch while also balancing the basic life To Do’s.

To fund my startup costs for my clothing line, Untucked Workwear, I initially sold my car and rode public transportation, and a biked for over a year. It wasn’t easy riding the bus with my pattern pieces and carrying large bolts of fabric through the streets of LA during the sweltering heat of summer, but it got me to the next step of taking an idea and making it real.

The biggest thing that helped encourage me to make it through all the self-doubt was telling family, friends, and whoever seemed remotely interested in what I was doing. I started growing an email list to send monthly updates on my progress. I felt like I couldn’t let them down, knowing that my reputation was on the line. It was a huge motivator to keep going even before I had an actual product. I loved receiving encouraging responses to those emails. It boosted my spirits then and still does today when I send an update!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Floraloom is a studio that specializes in story-driven event design using florals and installations to beautify spaces and create memorable moments that last a lifetime.

From fashion shoots to product launches to floral workshops, we want to help brands design experiences that help them become more personal and connected with their customers, clients, and employees. We also recently started a clothing line of workwear for women with jobs on the go.

Excited about expanding it in the months ahead with new pieces manufactured in small-batches for limited release.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up in a small country town outside of Dayton, Ohio, I always loved creating things and being outdoors. Homeschooled and a bit off the grid, I often escaped to read, draw, or mosey over to my neighbor’s forest building fairy houses out of twigs and bark and designed miniature clothes for my “fairy” friends using leaves, flowers and dried cornhusks from the farmer’s field behind us.

Personality-wise, I was constantly curious about how things were made, and you’d often find me sewing or building things with whatever I could find from around the house or outside to create things like costumes for our local theater group, flower arrangements for friends from foraging wildflowers outside, or homemade cards that I’d sell around the neighborhood.

I also had a fascination for fashion and putting outfits together from thrift store finds.  I used to study up on every single page of Vogue when a new issue was released, carefully turning each page, analyzing the styling and art direction and figure out how I could re-create the “look” from my closet and a sewing machine.  Often, my mom had to intercom me to come to the front of the store because I would get completely lost in reading.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Francis and Louise, Gene Kang Photography, Geneva Cegelis, Unicorn Productions

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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