Michelle Callahan’s first foray into design included a hot-glue gun and a halter top. She was 13 at the time, making a piece of clothing for her sister, when frustration with her mom’s sewing machine led her to, er, problem-solve. “It actually turned out cute!” she says. “My sister wore it and got a bunch of compliments.”
In college, Michelle familiarized herself with a needle and thread, taking her obsession to the next level. (“My friends and I still have nightmares about going back to school and staying up sewing all night.”) Armed with a degree in apparel design and textiles from California State University, Long Beach, she landed a job at Trina Turk, working her way up to buyer. “There I learned the ins and outs of contemporary retail, quality, and the importance of value,” she says.
With three-years-worth of experience across swimwear, accessories, and menswear under her belt, Michelle decided it was time to go at it alone. “I always wanted my own apparel line,” she says. “Ever since I was a teenager…as long as I can remember.” In 2013 she officially launched Callahan, a super-sophisticated, L.A.-based knitwear label—we’re talking delicate, crocheted maxi dresses and couldn’t-be-cozier boyfriend sweaters. But why knitwear? The decision was based just as much on business sense as passion. “I’ve always loved sweaters, unique knit designs, and yarn qualities,” she says. “And from my experience as a buyer, I knew that sweaters were an underdeveloped category.” That, and they look great. — olivia seely