Folks know her as simply Mimi, but fashion entrepreneur Merline Themora has created a mini fashion empire for herself that’s more grandiose than the simple nickname she carries. She owns and manages her own clothing boutique, but the heart of her empire is the aforementioned fashion show extravaganza that she holds in Miami annually. It has grown from a dream project of hers to being one of the most-looked-forward to fashion events in Miami, complete with a solid team, and even its own PR (KPR Solutions).
This past February, Mimi’s Boutiq Fashion Show was held at a posh hotel in Miami Beach. As models of various fashion designers strutted on the runway, it could not have been lost on a few that Mimi’s Boutiq Fashion Show is testimony to the growth of the Haitian community, and the emergence of Haitian-Americans as entrepreneurs, influencers and taste makers. Decades and decades ago, Haitian refugees were washing up on those same beaches near the hotel where the fashion show was being held.
As usual, your girl Kreyolicious always seeking to get into the minds of the brightest entrepreneurs had the chance to interview the mind behind Mimi’s Boutiq.
Kreyolicious: Tell us about yourself.
Where do I start? Born and raised a bit in Haiti, I attended an all girls nun school while I was in Haiti. Moved to Boston. I did my high school there. Moved to Florida to live with my mother. I am the only child. I’ve always loved fashion. I remember growing up in Haiti, whenever I had to step out of the house, I had to look good at all times. When we had Journee de couleur—No Uniform Day—at school which was always my favorite [Laughter], I made sure to have my mom take me shopping so I can look good and stand out.
Kreyolicious: Who was the best dresser you knew growing up?
I don’t remember much about having a best dresser growing up to be honest with you. I just knew fashion was in me. I’d read magazines at all times, which I still do just to keep up with the latest style and all.
Kreyolicious: Lots of folks who end up as designers and boutique owners usually worked in retail at one point of their lives. Was that the case with you?
Of course. That is definitely the case for me. I am a store manager. I’ve been with the company for years now. I love it.
Kreyolicious: Did you formally study fashion?
Yes I did. I attended the Art Institute for Fashion Merchandising.
Above: Models showing off pieces from the online retailer PRIIINCESSS at Mimi’s Boutiq Fifth Annual Fashion Show.
Kreyolicious: At the end of the end, what gives you the most satisfaction?
The smile I get from the crowd or from my customers. I do it all for them. Therefore, if they are happy, I’m happy.
Kreyolicious: You’ve held some fashion shows. What goes behind planning them?
OMG. A lot. It takes months to plan these shows. I thank God I have a great staff and a great business partner to back me up through it all.
Kreyolicious: Do you have a business philosophy? What is it?
Yes I do. “You can if you think you can.”
Kreyolicious: Say you had a little sister who wanted to follow you, and do something in the same industry that you’re involved in. What would you say to her?
Make sure your heart is really into it and learn to have lots of patience.
Above: Mimi’s Boutiq owner Merline “Mimi” Themora poses with MacD of Harmonik, Richard Cave of Harmonik, and DJ 5 Etwal. Photo Credit: Olie Photographie
Kreyolicious: Family plays a huge role in shaping us. How does your family view your being in the clothing industry?
My mom was a bit skeptical about it at first because of course like every other Haitian parents she wanted other things for me that I had no interest in. In the end, she understood me, and she supports me 100%. My fiancé is also another person who supports me a whole lot.
Above: A few highlights from Mimi’s Boutiq offerings.
Kreyolicious: What would you say to folks out there who admire you, who feel inspired by you, but feel that they can never live to their own potential?
First, I would say thank you. Second, there’s nothing that one cannot do. Pray about it first, Have faith that it can be done, then go for it.
Kreyolicious: How do you keep your connection to Haitian culture?
Through social media for the most part. I also go out and support some of the cultural events.
Kreyolicious: You keep yourself busy—no doubt…What is the next phase for Mimi’s Boutiq?
It’s a lot I’m working on for Mimi’s Boutiq…Just stay tuned. [Winks]