Artist, street wear, fashion designer - Story by Himiona Grace
Being an artist isn’t really something you just decide to do. Not in Miriama Grace-Smith’s world that is. It is something you’re born to do. And what a world she has created. From her earliest memories she has always been an artist and as far as careers go it wasn’t ever about which path to follow. It was more about carving out her own path and honouring the talent and passion she was born with.
Growing up in Paekakakariki and with a close association and proximity to Hongoeka marae Miriama was immersed in the arts. “I grew up around artists, writers, musicians so that world was normal to me. When I decided to continue on with art there were no surprises. It’s what I was already doing.”
Miriama went to Rudolf Steiner school on the Kapiti Coast before attending Wellington Girls and Wellington High School. But due to an illness which took her out of the classroom for almost a full year she (just) missed out passing her NCEA, a qualification she needed to attend university.
So Miriama signed up to Whitireia Polytechnic where she studied visual arts for a year.
She also passed her NCEA and then went on and completed her BA in Fine Arts at Massey University.
Initially painting, etchings and print making was her passion but over the years she also created multi-media pieces, was commissioned to do murals, paint skateboards, street art and graffiti (legally). Then after visiting a second hand clothing shop she started making her own clothes out of used pairs of jeans, tops and hoodys.
[photo ©AJ Photography 2015]
This lead to Miriama’s next and most challenging creative endeavour. She started creating ‘street wear’ and her label ‘Foresight Customised Clothing’ was born.
“People really liked what I was wearing and started ordering items. It just happened that way.”
Miriama opened a Facebook page and orders started coming in so fast that she sometimes found it hard to keep up with demand.
She took a business coarse, started teaching art part time and also scored a job as wardrobe designer on the feature film The Pa Boys. “That was an amazing experience, seeing your work on the big screen. It was a small budget so I mainly spent it on second hand clothes and customised them to suit the characters and story.”
And if that wasn’t enough to keep her busy she was also at home working the late hours trying to keep up with online demand and get more stock together ready to sell.
“The online business is pretty full on. Everything takes twice as long as you expect and it’s sometimes frustrating waiting for stock to arrive”. By stock she means blank T-shirts, hoodys and other items, including shoes for her to add her creative touch.
Her funky shoes caught the eye of Kiwi company Cindy Heels who sent Miriama some shoes for her to customise.
“The shoes attract a lot of attention. People stop to look at them first, then they check out the rest of the stock, “ she laughs.
After setting up her workshop at Hongoeka marae Miriama gradually built up her collection of clothing. But then an opportunity came up that she couldn’t ignore. The old fish and chip shop in Paekakariki came up for lease. “It was quite funny when we started painting the shop. People stopped in saying they were so happy a fish and chip was reopening. When I told them it was going to be clothing store they kinda looked at me like, ‘are you for real?’
Miriama secured the lease and set up shop, opening Foresight HQ just before Christmas 2014.
“It’s been an amazing experience and a learning curve at the same time. I can now spend the time I need to online, I have a workshop to keep creating gear and have a retail shop to sell it. I couldn’t be happier”.
The shop is an achievement and a ‘relief’ but there is no easing up on the hard work. It will take a dogged determination to keep the business flowing. But that is something Miriama isn’t short of. It wasn’t just her artistic talent that got her to where she is. It took a lot determination and drive to build the world that surrounds her.
You can follow, like and order Foresight clothing on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Miriama.G.S?fref=ts
or the official Foresight Clothing site: http://www.foresightclothing.com