Fashion Designer and Entrepreneur Meredith Howell ’23 Adds NC State Alumna to Her Resume
By Sarah Stone
Designing custom-wear for celebrities and professional athletes, having designs featured in Vogue, selling products at an official New York Fashion Week event: these are all accomplishments that come after earning a degree for most designers.
But Meredith Howell isn’t most designers. The entrepreneur has made a name for herself through her unique point of view and dedication to working by hand. Tapestries and religious imagery are two recurring themes that help define her aesthetic.
Her brand, Maison de Laflare, has its roots in the Wilson College of Textiles. A class project challenged her to create a garment with unconventional materials. Howell turned the vintage tapestry into a pair of pants and posted them from her personal Instagram account “Just to be like, ‘Look at these pants I made,’” she says.
“Then people were like, ‘Oh my gosh, are you selling those? How much?’ That’s when I was like, ‘Okay, I have to probably keep going.'”
As demand for her designs grew, Howell decided to transfer from the fashion design program to fashion development and product management so she could learn more about the business side of fashion.
As much as she’s enjoyed her time at NC State, Howell says she’s looking forward to prioritizing her business full-time post-graduation. She’s secured a spot in the Raleigh Showroom to share her brand with buyers and stylists and has plans to participate in her first New York Fashion Week runway show this fall.
Which person on campus has influenced you the most during your time here?
Dr. West was my professor my first year and he was the first person I showed my designs to when I was still a fashion design student. At the time, I didn’t know anything. I didn’t even really know how to sew, so the concept was amazing but the construction was poor.
But he told me that my designs were really good and really encouraged me to follow my own path. He taught me how to think like an artist and take inspiration from the world around me.
What was your favorite class at the Wilson College?
My most challenging class, which I feel like has been the most important to my business, was my product development lab with Professor Kate Annett-Hitchcock. We had to make tech packs and come up with a brand, and I’m using all of those skills right now to build Maison de Laflare.It was the hardest class I’ve ever taken, but it definitely taught me the most.
What was your most meaningful experience at NC State?
It was definitely the African American Textile Society. I was in it from my first year through last year. When I was a sophomore, I was the social media and publicity chair. I was there with all of my closest friends from college, and it was just such a great environment.
What’s your advice for young entrepreneurs?
Start as soon as you have an idea; you don’t know what you’re doing. Just start.
And then don’t be afraid to start asking people for advice. In the fashion industry, you might have to make your own path, but if you really believe you can do it, then find a way to do it.
Make sure you still make time for your schoolwork and don’t have an ego. And the last piece of advice I would give is to be nice to everyone; you never know who somebody is and what opportunities that might be able to help you with.