Independent Fashion
Miranda Harper as – Emm8
Miranda Harper Emm8

Welcome back for your second helping of Miranda Harper. This is Part II of our interview with Miranda Harper, designer of Emm8.  When we first met with Miranda, we couldn’t have possibly known how fabulously the interview would be; so fabulous in fact, that we split it into two.  Missed the first half of the interview?: Coffee with Miranda Harper of Emm8

Envynde – What is the history behind Emm8?  What does that name mean and how did Emm8 come to be?

Miranda – The name used to be “MC Customs,” but there’s actually a company in Canada using that name. So I decided not to use that but I wanted to still use my initials, sort of.  The “8,” was because my boyfriend and I had been together for 8 years at the time.  


Envynde – What inspires your designs?

Miranda – I can’t really put it on one resource or figure, but I actually thought about this a while back.  I have some really cool friends with some unique styles, so I pull from them a lot.  One of my friends, she’s so cool, she’s a rapper in Austin. She’s got half her head shaved and it’s long and orange on the other side.

Miranda Harper Emm8

Envynde – Really?!  What’s her name?

Miranda – Attie Beck.  I’ve made her a few things that she’s worn on stage, and she’s just… so cool.  She wears things like screenprinted orange tights and all kinds of awesome stuff.  I love her to death.  A lot of my friends are musicians and I see that coming through my designs. 

Miranda Harper Emm8And I really love, and it sounds really macabre, but I like abandoned buildings.  Especially when there’s been a fire in there.  Because you can see the burn marks, and the vines eventually grow over it…

   I really like wandering around downtown.  There’s so much old stuff that people don’t really see anymore.  The colored [stained glass] windows, the insides of the walls are bright orange, where’s no one’s lived in there for years.
Envynde – At what age did you know you wanted to become a fashion designer?

At first I sewed them by hand but then I got a machine when I was 12.  I started sewing when I was 8, and I would make dresses for my Cabbage Patch dolls.

Miranda’s response to “What age did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?” is truly remarkable, because Miranda’s zeal for fashion sparked at the tender age of 8. 


 “I don’t want to say it ‘helps’, but it does help that when I was growing up we were real poor.  My mom would get hand-me-down clothes from the ladies at church or the Salvation Army.  So even in middle school I had to make my clothes so they wouldn’t look like they came from the Salvation Army.  So that’s how it came to be.”

Utterly Remarkable.  Who doesn’t love a “Rags to Riches” story?  We continued on…

Envynde – So Miranda, I know why you started designing, but why do you design now?
Miranda – Now I design because I hate shopping.  I worked in retail for almost 10 years and when I worked in retail I would just buy stuff from where I worked so I wouldn’t have to shop!  And now that I am not in retail anymore I just don’t want to shop. 
Envynde – What does being an independent designer mean to you?
Miranda – I like that when people come to me it’s all right here.  If you want something done differently, you can call me up.  I like the turn around time; I can get a custom piece done in a couple of weeks.  For me it’s about the freedom; the personal relations. People come to my apartment, we have coffee and try on stuff.  There’s a lot of things I do that I do not think I could if I worked for someone else…
Something about that last statement was really exciting.  “If I worked for someone else…” does this mean that this young, talented designer is also business savvy enough to be self employed!?  We had to ask.  To which she answered:

“No… I have a 9 to 5, that pays the bills” she says.  “I like to make things that people can afford so I don’t take in a lot of profit.” 

We spent the next few moments commiserating on the challenge of charging what you deserve vs. not selling garments.  Eventually we got back to the interview.

What road blocks or obstacles do you face as an indie fashion designer?
Miranda – It’s always a time management issue.  I’ve always worked full time, even in college.  Since I don’t take a whole lot of profit on my stuff, [I have to work full time] I gotta pay the bills!  When I first got out of college my parents lived in China, so I kind of floundered for a while and I lived on my little sisters couch in a 2 bedroom apartment with her and her roommate.  We got food from the food bank or the church pantry.  My sister worked at Wendy’s so we got to eat for free.  I worked at Qdoba for a while so I could get free food and it was good too, man!
Time management again, has definitely always been an issue… and the money.  I couch hopped for a little while.  So that was difficult. 
Envynde – Right!  Especially since you just moved here.  So then did you know anyone before you moved here?
Miranda – I knew one person.  I had a high school friend in Little Elm.  So I slept on her couch for a little while until I found a really cheap apartment… kinda in the hood.  There was a weed dealer who lived up stairs and a hooker who lived next door.  Yea, when I would leave in the morning at like 7 o’clock she would just be coming in…   
   But finally, I had to leave after about 6 months because I was home watching the news and there was a story about someone who got shot…  And they were showing my apartment complex.  So I decided it might be time to move.
Envynde – What will be the defining moment for Emm8?  When will you know “I’ve made it”
Miranda – I really don’t know…  I think I would get excited if someone I didn’t know bought something.  So maybe when I open up the store that will happen.  Right now its just friends and friends of friends will buy something.  But I think if someone I have no connection to period buys something, I think that will be it.
Envynde – What advice would you give to fashion graduates?
Miranda – It’s funny you ask, because I give this advice out a lot – It’s a lot of work.  People go into fashion and think that it is going to be glamorous.  When I was in college I was all starry eyed and I thought everything was just going to be wonderful… but it’s not.  You bust your behind all the time.  Then I see their faces drop a little, but I still say to them that most of the people I graduated with work in retail and a few went back to school to get different degrees.  So if you want this you have to be different, you got to work really hard and you can’t expect to have it given to you because you have a degree.
Envynde – What would you say is the best thing about being an indie designer? 
Miranda – It’s really relaxing for me.  Keeps my brain working.  If I’ve had a really hard day at the office, I get on that sewing machine or get out that paintbrush.  Even when I was working on the show and getting 3 hours of sleep, I loved it.
   Miranda also spoke very candidly with us about The Pin Show (where we met).  Everyone we’ve spoken with so far is in agreement that the show may not have been perfect but the pros outweighed the cons.  After all, we met each other, there was great exposure to the media and the production was very chic.  Mirada also shares a little bit about her personal life.  When she’s not chained to her sewing machine, you might find her hanging with her indie music clique, training for a half marathon or enjoying the occasional meal at a “fancy pants restaurant.” (As she so charmingly puts it.)  

   Time flew by during our time with Miranda, but after roughly 45 minutes, we decided maybe we should let her go!  I didn’t realize just how many times I said “wow” during this interview, Miranda is such a breath of fresh air with  an interesting story to tell.  We asked Miranda what is next for Emm8?  She shares with us her latest venture – her upcoming online boutique – which she projects to have up and running by July 2012.  Never a dull moment!  To find out more about Emm8, check out:

Miranda Harper Emm8
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  • Anonymous

    I thoroughly enjoyed both segments of this interview!

  • Lilystead

    Miranda you rock! This was truly inspiring.

  • Envynde

    We are so glad you guys enjoyed the Miranda Harper Hour! We thoroughly enjoyed doing this interview too. She is such a gem.

    Every designer has a story and Envynde wants to hear it! If you are an indie designer making moves in the indie design world, contact us to set up your interview –