Spotlight on Michelle

Today I have the distinct pleasure of turning a well-deserved spotlight on our Store Manager, Chief Invitation Consultant and resident Visual Merchandiser, Michelle. Though she is clearly an invaluable member of our team in many arenas of the business, today I wanted to focus on her incredible creative talent. We pride ourselves on our imaginative window displays, and in recent years, Michelle is most frequently the font from which they spring.   Without further ado, the lovely Michelle!
How long have you been with On Paper? 
Five years this past October!

Michelle's first window at On Paper

What experiences or education led you to visual merchandising at On Paper? 
Luckily, I hail from a very arts oriented family. Growing up, creativity was always encouraged. At the University of Dayton I studied Art History and Fine Arts, focusing on ceramic and paper sculpture with my own work.  I think of displays as 2-dimensional sculpture. It wasn’t until I took a part-time job at CO Bigelow at Easton that I discovered I had a knack for merchandising, and completely loved organizing product into displays. I’d always volunteer to help with floor sets and thought it was fun to see and take part in the seasonal changes of the shopping environment. When I started at On Paper as an Assistant Manager I shared my interest in windows and visual merchandising.  After a while, I was given the opportunity to pitch some ideas and create my very first window display. I was so very thrilled to have the chance!

A clothesline of letters! Could be great inspiration for the home.
What inspires you?
In general; the natural world around us (mother nature sure can create one heck of a color palette!). Traveling. History. Exploring different places. The fashion and visual arts scenes. As far as windows go - antique shops and flea markets are chock full of inspirational objects; I’m always on the prowl. I like milling around in stores like Anthropologie and Ralph Lauren too. They do a remarkable job creating well branded and designed (and in Anthro’s case, crafted) shopping environments and fantastic window displays. Speaking of fantastic window displays, I could stand in front of Bergdorf Goodman’s stunning holiday windows for hours!!       

Black and White

Tell us a little about the process of designing and executing a window display. 
Windows should showcase your product and entice walkers by.  So, first we determine a theme or story, and pinpoint the product we’ll merchandise within. The season as well as buying trips help to determine the theme. From there, we sketch out a design. Sometimes construction materials need to be sourced and backdrop elements created. Depending on the complexity, backdrops can take from a couple hours up to a few weeks to complete.  When I’m having fun, they almost always involve using a power tool or two! Most often I’m able to use the fantastic vintage display fixtures we already have here in the shop. In those cases, it’s a matter of selecting the fixtures that best suit the merchandise along with props to polish and enhance the overall look.  Build the display, set the merchandise, and if needed, adjust the lighting. Walah! 
{Funny story - when reading Michelle's responses, I thought I had the heavy burden of informing her that she has been mispronouncing "voila" her entire life. Luckily for us both, I discovered it is simply a trademark of her offbeat humor; a Michelle-ism, if you will.} 
Putting our vintage fixtures to use
What has been your favorite window? 
Have several that I’m fond of, but my favorite would have to be our Holiday Winter Wonderland windows with the white paper trees!

Those white paper trees are likely a community favorite as well - they did earn us Best in Show in the 2011 Short North Arts District Holiday Window Competition, after all!
Thanks so much for sharing with us, Michelle - can't wait to see what you come up with next!

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