Melissa Coker has created a fashion line that fuses vintage inspiration with chic modern touches, all with an effortlessly girly twist. The LA based designer may not have always dreamt of a life in the design world, but with the beautiful collections she creates, we couldn’t be happier that this is the path she took. In just five years, Melissa has made Wren a go-to for fashionistas looking for the perfect piece (or, if you’re like us, pieces!) to add to their wardrobes. We couldn’t have been more excited to check out the line’s headquarters, and we are totally loving the inspiring place Melissa and her team call home.
Photography: Jessie Webster
When did you launch Wren and what was the inspiration behind it?
Wren was launched in 2007. I have a background in magazines, and through a twist of fate, ended up designing. There were a few things that I wanted and couldn’t find in stores, so I had some friends set me up with pattern makers and I started making things for myself. I made ten pieces and realized that I had a small collection. I showed it to some stores and they bought everything!
Meet the Wren team: Left to right, Aaron, Karina, Melissa, Jennifer, Anna and Phoebe.
How would you describe the Wren girl?
The Wren girl is bookish, but still very cool; feminine, but also not afraid to be a little bit of a tomboy too.
“We try to organize all of our ideas for upcoming collections on the design concept board. Next season, we’re excited to explore new silhouettes and fabrications. The tennis rackets are one of my favorite vintage finds from the Rose Bowl flea market. “
What’s a typical day at the Wren office?
Everyday is different. One day I’ll be working on design concepts for our upcoming collection, next I’ll be on a photo or video shoot and then I’ll be working with our sales team to show the collection to buyers.
“This is the goodie bag from our most recent event with LA boutique TenOverSix. We celebrated our collaboration with Tavi Gevinson and screened our fall film, Beware of Young Girls, which stars Tavi.”
Tell us about your team? How big is it?
Our team is made up myself, Aaron, our production manager, Carly who manages press and our assistant Anna. We also have an amazing group of interns that help us with all aspects of the process. We’re a very small but tight-knit group.
What are some of the best parts of running your own business and what are some of the challenges?
The best part of running my own business is having full creative control and being able to create collections that I absolutely love. I feel so fortunate—this is my dream job. The biggest challenge is learning how to leave work at work and not bring it home.
Your office has tons of style? How did you come up with the design?
I really wanted the design of the studio to reflect the Wren collection, so you’ll find a mix of vintage inspiration with modern touches.
Do you have any advice for young men or women looking to launch their own fashion line?
Never take “no” for an answer, and be persistent if you are passionate about your work. Also, build your network, the people you meet at work as well as socially are the people who could be your next lead to a new job.
Wren designer & founder, Melissa Coker
Tell us about your latest collection
The Spring 13 collection is filled with classic silhouettes with a twist—we explored fabric mixing, color blocking and bold graphic prints in rich colors. The result is a collection of effortless, cool, chic pieces.
“Our mood board is filled with a mix of vintage magazine tears, postcards, trims, notions- basically anything that catches our eye! The leopard bags are from our holiday collaboration with fellow LA designer Clare Vivier. The leopard fabric is repurposed from our Combo coat, who says you can’t be eco-friendly and stylish?”
“I love our little lounge area, you can always find our latest inspiration book on the coffee table. This week, it’s Diana Vreeland’s ‘The Eye Must Travel.’”
“Our assistant Anna, hard at work.”
How do you sparkle?
Enthusiasm and happiness.