Artist Melissa A. Mitchell believes in manifestation—a practice outlined in the 2006 bestseller, The Secret, and championed by notables from Deepak Chopra to Oprah. Essentially, the idea is that if you focus on a goal, you can attain it. For her, the practice is an extension of the faith she grew up with as the daughter of a pastor. “It’s just faith on steroids to me,” she says. It’s also how the artist and textile designer has conjured up collaborations with national brands such as Spanx and Ford Motor Company.
After quitting her corporate job in February 2021 to build her company, Abeille Creations, full-time, the Atlanta-based artist has most recently collaborated with Foot Locker on a 13-piece apparel collection. Her second collection for the brand will debut in 2022. Naturally, she attributes her success to manifestation: She wrote “global designer” over and over again and posted the words in her house. Here’s how she continues to create her own reality.
How did you start your art career?
My art journey has been interesting. I was grieving my pain when my dad passed away. I was there when they took him to the morgue. I feel like I came alive in that moment. If everyone ends up in the body bag, and you’re all taken away to the same room and no one knows who you are or what you do. . . For me, it was about making sure I am remembered. That I have a legacy. That I have something big.
Art is like going to therapy. I had a desire for something, and art became the answer. I didn’t know art would be the answer. I manifested my art career because I had a desire to deepen my life’s legacy through art, but it could have been anything. It could have been quilting, dancing.
You say you’ve manifested your art career. How did you get started?
My whole life has been about finding what I want and focusing on that. Set that goal, and no matter what happens around it, you’re going to get to the finish line. You’re going to get to the destination, to that nugget at the end of the rainbow.
Are you always manifesting?
I’m always manifesting. I have to try and find a healthy balance because I don’t want to become a destination addict. I just finished a TED Talk [recently]; I had been wanting to manifest that. I used to always say, Thank you for coming to my TED Talk. I’ve been saying that for at least 10 years. At the end of my [TED Talk] speech, I said, Guys, I finally get to say it! I don’t even write in my journal every day because I’m scared to write things down, because I have to be ready.
So you manifested your collaboration with Foot Locker?
With these huge brands, they’re hungry to get your perspective. I’ve been able to be my full self. I get to wear my head wrap. I get to have my bright, bold lipstick. I get to be all of myself, and I get to leave that mark in my work. They personally want to invest in you to see you win.
What was the inspiration for the apparel collection?
I add the exclamation point to anything I’m part of. My artwork is impactful, but it’s also inspirational. The [Foot Locker] designs have a lot of movement. If you look at them long enough, you’ll feel like they’re dancing. I want to create clothing to make women feel confident. You can’t miss a girl wearing my stuff.
Your tagline on your website is “Kaleidoscope of Hope.” What does that mean?
I always say, I found my life when I was going through the broken pieces [of grieving the death of my father]. They came together and made this really dope presence in my life. That’s artwork as inspiration and motivation. People should look through any lens they’ve been given and try to find the hope: the colors, the beauty. I want to be that kaleidoscope for other people.
How do you unwind?
I’m a people person, but as a creative, I need to be away from the noise. And funnily enough, I like to drive. It’s the only time I can have office hours without being on my laptop, or someone showing up to my office.
So my car is my classroom, and that’s where I do my sessions. I do my TED Talk sessions in the car. I listen to my podcasts. I get my sermons. I’ll take the long way home if I know I can ride by a mural, or ride where there’s a long stretch of trees. I’m from Miami, so I’m used to palm trees, but there’s something about the height of the pines here that makes you think they reach all the way to the heavens. And I always catch rainbows on my way home. Every week for the last eight weeks between Atlanta and Miami, I’ve caught rainbows.