Three talented women behind M3 are determined to inspire, inform and support a fashion industry that has flirted with an exuberant, sexy and party intensive Miami.
“Happy hours, networking, local events, and even Zoom are some of the ways which citizens of this great city come together. Building a fashion community from these initiatives, however, requires common ground, ideas, purpose, commitment, trust, participation, and reward. In other words, hard work,” Matilda Kalaveshi describes the birth of M3 Collective.
Matilda Kalaveshi teaches retail and business at Miami-Dade College and Istituto Marangoni, is a retail consultant, writes about the business end of fashion and has a real insider’s perspective. She adds: “The desire to build something transformative and inclusive drove us to establish M3 Collective and take action.”
Who are these three pioneering ladies who converged in Miami?
Marla Cartin is an entrepreneur, delving in marketing and branding, a fashion writer and designer, and a stylist for Glamour’s Ask A Stylist. After being featured on Vogue for personal styling, she opened an exclusive pop up boutique and consulting business.
Martu E. Freeman-Parker established M.E.F. Productions in 1999, and has produced fashion events and shows in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Maryland and now in Miami. Martu is also the founder and host of Fashion TALKS Miami, a monthly networking event for the fashion industry, professionals, students, educators, bloggers and business owners.
Matilda Kalaveshi started in international fashion and she successfully transitioned into the buying world when she joined Macy’s Corporate in Miami. For the past 16 years, she has worked for numerous retailers in the southeast region and is a key opinion leader and expert in the industry, focusing on retail news, consumer trends, e-commerce, emerging brands, and new retail developments.
The M3 Collective
Common wisdom has it that the best formula for the successful launching of a business is filling a void. These three ladies always felt a lack of community within their industry, so they sought to create a place where one exchanged ideas, ignited education, and encouraged networking.
They also believed that united they were much stronger, Matilda Kalaveshi indicated in a telephone conversation. “And the three of us share the certainty that M3 Collective is a needed player in our community.”
Downtown News: The abbreviated definition of M3 is…?
Matilda Kalaveshi: It simply represents the first letter of each co-founder’s name. The three of us met while networking and realized early on that our ideologies in fashion aligned. Our passion was evident, and it was a natural next step to move forward as one. M3’s mission is to provide a fashion ecosystem where industry professionals and consumers connect and collaborate. We believe in the empowerment of real human connection and are determined to elevate Miami’s fashion and retail industry by providing education, business management, consultation, and representation in an inspirational space.”
DN: The Magic City has claimed a place at the forefront of international fashion. Not for nothing Miami is widely considered the Latin American capital, and an important destination for Europeans. And Miami is fun. No one has ever accused Miami to shy away from a good party.
MK: Through fashion shows and celebrity filled after-parties, Miami has demonstrated how to have fun. However, fun doesn’t always translate to substance or success for working professionals. Both emerging and established fashion professionals are seeking more than just a good time — they want to be supported and challenged. They want to see Miami rise to its full potential as one of the world’s fashion capitals.
DN: Tell us about the local fashion community?
MK: Miami’s fashion community is comprised of multicultural relationships, entrepreneurship, and endless possibility. M3 founders understand this, but also know success can’t be realized unless a support system for local talent is established. It is in recognition of these needs that M3 Collective aims to propel a new generation of professionals who can establish and sustain local businesses. Through strong partnerships and initiatives, our goal is to make Miami the next destination for designers, innovative retail, and fashion trade.
DN: Of course, COVID-19 has altered everything. Is it a good time to start a project that has luxury at its core? Is it the right time to start anything?
MK: Precisely because of the adverse effects the pandemic has had on the local economy, we must look forward to fashion, an industry which, along with tourism and real estate, can be the backbone of the recovery. It is during these economic downturns that new, focused businesses emerge and flourish. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. COVID-19 has greatly sped up fashion trends across the world and we hope to have anticipated the direction things are headed.
DN: In terms of location, why the focus on Downtown?
MK: The future for fashion in Downtown Miami is more than a promise. It’s a reality. We have the Miami International University of Art and Design and Miami-Dade College. The latter now has a well-established Fashion Institute that is preparing the next generation of fashion professionals. The Miami Worldcenter will debut 300,000 square feet of space dedicated to retail. Brickell Center is just across the bridge… As city and county continue to support Downtown Miami’s evolution, as well as private investors such as the Mana Group, M3 Collective can be the ideal partner to lead growth within our industry. I reiterate, the opportunities are endless, and at M3 Collective we are excited and ready to get started.”
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