Although we’ve already taken the tour of Michelle LeBlanc’s bright and breezy Minneapolis home, we couldn’t let the fun stop there. In addition to her roles as wife, mother and savvy homemaker, Michelle is also the creative founder of MILLE, a shop filled to the brim with carefully curated goodies and clothing just begging to be added to our pre-fall wardrobes. Michelle has so much more to say and share when it comes to her love for good design, and below you can get the scoop on the shop design behind MILLE, her thoughts on post-baby style and her fashion-forward inspiration for fall.
Where did you come up with the idea for your shop MILLE? How did you bring that dream to life?
I wish I could lay claim to some grand plan, but the short version is that it started with a blog about reclaiming my style post-baby. I spent too much time writing it, so I thought I should figure out a way to make a little money. I realized getting advertising was too exhausting, plus, I already had an online consignment store and had worked as a buyer and manager of small boutiques for many years, so I made the jump to selling new things I was writing about online. It has grown from two lines to 80 really slowly and organically over the past six years—although not always very smoothly. It’s a bit chaotic, and done in fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants style!
You grew up in Austin, Texas. How does your background influence your style?
Coming of age in the ’90s and going to college in Austin was such a positive influence on my style. All the great alt-rock girls of that time (like Kim Gordon) had a big impact on me, as did Austin’s embrace of all things indie. Those influences really provided me with the freedom to embrace a less traditional vibe. It was never about being super girly, or sexy, or polished—I think that hippie/outsider vibe still carries through to what I love today.
How would you describe the style of MILLE in three words?
Effortless, happy, smart.
How would you describe your own personal style in three words?
Relaxed, soft, a little rough around the edges
Where do you find inspiration?
My friends, my daughters, travel, old movies and Instagram.
What’s on your fall wish list?
New sunglasses (my beloved ones were swept away by a giant wave this summer), something to replace my comfortable and ubiquitous white tennies (do I have to give these up already? perhaps new clogs?) and more workouts so I can finally squeeze into a pair of those Jesse Kamm pants I love.
How did you create such an effortlessly chic vibe for the design of your shop? Walk us through the process of designing the space.
Nadia Haddad helped me design the shop and it has evolved a lot over time. We are constantly running out of space, so we keep simplifying and adding more built-in shelving. It’s almost better that we didn’t have a huge amount to spend on a fancy build out because it has encouraged us to grow the space really organically. We have lots of natural light, Akari Light Sculptures by Isamu Noguchi for added softness, a revolving selection of rugs and vintage chairs, classic marble, natural wood and, of course, lots of pink.
Do you find that travel is a big source of inspiration? Where are your favorite destinations?
Absolutely! Although, with two young kids, we aren’t as adventurous as we used to be. I’m currently loving anywhere tropical—lush greenery, heat, warm beaches. We were outside of Tulum at Hotel Esencia for a lookbook shoot earlier this summer—which was so dreamy—and we went as a family to Costa Rica for my 40th birthday. The Harmony Hotel in Nosara is a new favorite. I have a habit of falling in love with hotels, not places! All the details that go into creating a really special place to stay are endlessly fascinating to me. I’m always inspired by Liz Lambert’s properties—Hotel St. Cecilia, Hotel San Jose and Hotel Havana in particular—and I love a good Los Angeles or Palm Springs, Calif. getaway. I would love to design a small hotel or run a hotel gift shop in my favorite places. I think that’s such an underused and overlooked opportunity.
What’s your favorite fall item from MILLE?
Oh, it’s so hard to pick favorites, but I’ve already worn this Caron Callahan dress 10 times.
How can moms stay chic and stylish while running around with their little ones?
High-waisted mom jeans look fresh, updated and get rid of the problems caused by low-rise skinnies (like a muffin top or exposed bum crack). Find an easy uniform and stick with it. I love old Levi’s, button downs and tennis shoes—it’s not totally original but it feels good and takes the guess work out of the days I don’t have the energy to put in a lot of effort. Trying too hard is the death of good style, in my opinion!
Photography by Melissa Oholendt