Interview: May68

I genuinely love all of the stores in the directory (hence why it's curated), but I'll be the first to admit that I'm a little biased toward the vintage-inspired brands. Now that so many have popped up in recent years, I'm constantly on the hunt for ones that feel new and fresh, which is why I was so enamored with May68 from the get-go. I first came across the brand around a year or two ago, and I was immediately in love with the feminine dresses, Peter Pan collars, full skirts, and crew neck sweatshirts.

It's even easier to want to shop with May68 once you know that April Folan, the designer, has all items manufactured in Los Angeles and often with upcycled materials. April is committed to not only creating adorable pieces but doing so ethically. Of course, all of this isn't even to mention the fact that April has designed for Georgia Hardstark and named the best selling Hardstark dress after her. Whether you're a My Favorite Murder fan looking to dress like Georgia or just a lover of all things sweet and vintage-inspired, one thing is for sure - if you're shopping from May68, you obviously have great taste. Enjoy getting to know April as much as I did!

Q: Let’s start from the beginning. Can you tell me a little bit about the process of starting your business? What made you want to do this and how did you turn your idea into a reality?

A: May68 started and debuted in Winter of 2016 but the idea of May68 started 12 years ago when I got my foot in the door of domestic apparel production. I loved the whole process of an idea turned into a finished garment. I enjoyed working with talented pattern makers, designers, & manufacturers here in Los Angeles. I knew one day I would have the courage to put my own designs out there.

Q: What was your first product to take off or find enough success that you were encouraged to do more?

A: LBD’s are always a hit! And why wouldn’t they be? Every woman needs one in their arsenal! Our second season we debuted the Regency Suite little black dress and it was a huge success! Till this day, we still have customers asking if there are any Regency Suite dresses available & if we will bring the dress back. Stay tuned :)

Q: Did you work another job while you were starting? How long did it take you to turn this into a full-time venture?

A: YES! I worked weekends and 2 days a week at my friend's restaurant as a hostess to fund May68. It was a lot of time juggling & doing 2 different things at the same time. But since I used my own money to launch the line, I funded it for 2 ½ years with the hostess job. I just finally left the restaurant job last month! It was a great feeling!

Q: As a murderino, I can’t allow myself to interview and not mention the Hardstark dress. Can you tell me how that dress came to be and what it was like seeing Georgia wear your dress onstage?

A: The infamous Hardstark dress! The design started off as a gift for Georgia Hardstark to wear to her live podcast in Los Angeles. It was going to be a one & done piece so you could imagine how surprised I was to have May68’s mailbox full of inquires on where to buy the dress. It was my "hey maybe my ideas aren’t so bad after all" moment. But seeing Georgia wearing the dress on stage, in my hometown, had such an impact on me & boosted my confidence as a designer! I couldn’t believe how much she loved the dress! When I heard her speak about May68 during the performance it was so surreal! I’m getting all teary-eyed now just thinking about it!

Q: What has the process been like manufacturing your designs locally and producing pieces in an ethical manner? What kind of challenges come with that?

A: The main challenge I run into with producing domestically and not overseas is my pricing. A single design from idea to finished product goes through 5 different people once it gets to the customer, more if I include the photographers, models & makeup artists too. And I am a strong believer of paying fair wages to each one of them. Some people have a hard time understanding why my pieces are more expensive than pieces in big mall chain stores. But I always enjoy conversing the process and helping consumers understand that if the clothing is offered at very low price, be certain it was at the expense of a sweatshop worker, fabric mill, their families, and even the environment. It’s these mass, fast fashion stores that have made everyone used to buying very inexpensive items, unbeknowst to them, at the same time encouraging & supporting low wages & poor working conditions for garment workers.

Q: Now that vintage-inspired clothing is becoming more popular, what advice do you have for others looking to design retro pieces?

A: Make pieces YOU would like to wear. Don’t design for others. You’ll be surprised how many people will respond with similar likes as yours! And always have a classic LBD in your collections!

Q: Favorite item in your shop currently?

A: Tough! But I have to say our Dashing Dylan sweater. The graphic is based on my 9 year-old maltipoo, Dylan.

Q: What goals do you have for your business going forward?

A: I really would love to do more in-person events. I have had success with mini pop-up shops & parties around LA, but would love to take the show on the road and have people see the clothing up front, meet new people & customers, while seeing new parts of the country & world! It’s so important to me to be connected with May68 fans at a personal level, they inspire my ideas and have amazing style (of course!)

Q: Lastly, let’s spread the love. What are a few of your favorite small shops owned by women that you personally shop from?

A: OMG! YES! Love this! I am lucky to have strong female friends who are also doing their thing! I love shopping and supporting @equihua_official, the women & kids behind @tiny.bangs, artist @anna.anri & of course local vintage & thrift shops - it’s like searching for buried treasures!

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