Up-and-coming local fashion designer hits her stride
Alexis Meschi opens the door looking every bit the up-and-coming fashion designer that she is: she wears tall grey boots, designer jeans, the perfect assortment of accessories and an enviable shirt that she made herself. She doesnâ€™t look a day over 21, but sheâ€™s 30, married, and has three adorable, young daughters. Meschi is also the sole proprietor and fashion designer of her own company, Lex Designs, which creates modern/romantic T-shirts, dresses, tank tops, skirts, purses and clutches, that are eye-catching and cutting edgeâ€”and each is created and sewn by Meschi. At the quick rate that her clothes have been selling at downtown Santa Cruz retailer Stripe, thereâ€™s no doubt of her talent, or that her wares are likely going to stretch beyond this city by the sea. (Keep an eye on her. We have a feeling sheâ€™s going far.)
Meschi is unique among the fashion worldâ€”sheâ€™s generous, communicates with her fans via a daily fashion blog that gets 120,000 hits a month, and seems to be stress-free about how her company will no doubt evolve. So itâ€™s no wonder sheâ€™s coming into her own as an It Girl.
After Meschi had her second child several years ago, she started making baby items, utilizing her basic sewing skills. â€œI could do a blanket, a pillow case, changing pads,â€ she says. She and a friend launched their own baby business and began sewing, creating, and selling various items. â€œIâ€™m pretty much self-taught,â€ Meschi adds. â€œBut I donâ€™t get instructions. If you give me a clothing pattern, itâ€™s like reading [a foreign language]. Iâ€™m better at figuring it out on my own.â€
From there, the budding designer decided last year to make a dress for herself for Motherâ€™s Day, and the response from people was affirming and effusive. â€œIt gave me the confidence to keep going,â€ she says. She also decided to launch a fashion blog (madebylex.com) right around the same time, and had 70 followers in the first week. The blog documents Meschiâ€™s journey as a fashion designer. Her blog also includes a frequent â€œDaily Wearâ€ post with a snapshot of what sheâ€™s wearing so as to encourage and inspire fashion choices in others, and tutorials on creating your own T-shirts, dresses, and more. About five months ago she started an Etsy store, which now sells items from her collection.
Further buzz grew over Lex Designs when Meschi recently brought her clothes into Stripe. The staff there decided to sell her T-shirts, dresses and Paper Bag Waist Skirts (very innovative designs, by the way). So far, her designs are doing well in the store, with Stripe re-stocking her wares weekly. Theyâ€™ve also begun selling her ruffled/pleated handbags, which feature original, eye-catching designs.
Recently, while on vacation in Napa, Meschi was approached by a stranger who inquired about one of these handbags, which she was carrying at the time. Interest in her work abounds, but Meschi remains distinctly humble throughout her artistic journey. She explains that at the heart of creating clothing and purses is really her desire to find artistic expression. And perhaps thatâ€™s what sets her apart from other designers. Sheâ€™s not drawn to the idea of wearing things so as to tout oneâ€™s wealth or influence, but rather as a mode of creativity.
On the back of her â€œLexâ€ labels on any garment or handbag, there are the words â€œCovered in Love.â€ Meschi explains that more than a year ago a friendâ€™s mother was dying of cancer, and she helped make a blanket to comfort that woman during her remaining weeks alive. â€œIt was the first time that I made something that I prayed for the person the whole time,â€ she says. â€œI prayed that each stitch, each moment I spent on that blanket would be lifted as a prayer for her and her family. In the bottom of the blanket I embroidered, â€˜Covered in Love.â€™ That blanket ended up being a very important piece for the family during the death process and later during the healing process. It put a meaning to what I was doing. Ever since then, I vowed that whenever I was sewing something, I would pray the entire time for the person I was making it for, whether it be someone I know or not. And I really carry the hope that whoever buys one of my garments is somehow blessed by the love and prayers I put in to it.Â It gives the fashion meaning.â€
To learn more about Alexis Meschi and her designs, visit madebylex.com. You can see her clothing and purses at Stripe, 107 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 421-9252, stripedesigngroup.com. Pricing of items begins at around $50. Stripe is holding a Lex Designs trunk show from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 22.