Like many HBCU students, Melissa Mitchell is a woman of many talents. As an HBCU graduate of Florida A&M University, she worked hard and thought she was content with her career path. But it wasn’t until she had a random experiment that she unlocked her hidden potential. That discovery has brought her work to Vogue Magazine, Ford, Nike and even a collection in Macy’s!
During an especially heavy Atlanta snowstorm in 2014, Melissa decided to post herself on social media trying something new. First, she began to sketch on pieces of scrap wood and paper. Next, she added paint and permanent black markers over those sketches. As she looked back, she yelled out “YO—I might just be on to something!” When she showed the finished products to her friends on her Instagram and Facebook pages, she was surprised by their support.
“I started getting DMs from friends saying, ‘Can I buy one of those?’ ‘Melissa are you an artist now?’ ‘Can you make one of those pieces for my mom?’ ‘How soon can you ship for my new house?’ I was in utter shock.” With so many drawn to her signature bright colors, Melissa was a bit unprepared for her sudden success.
She didn’t know what to charge, how to ship art, or how to meet the demand. But she got to work trying to figure it out, and even expanded to painting her art on fabrics. In fact, when inquiring about how to expand from paper and wood to fabric, she got a message from a follower that happened to own a local print shop. “I sent him a few images to test print on fabric and magic was BORN. Overnight, I became the new wearable art creator on the scene,” said Mitchell. She creatively named her brand Abeille Creations.
Fast-forwarding a couple months, Melissa had captured the attention of local art show directors, galleries, stores, and top brands. One night, she dared to message a few celebrity stylists, one of them being that of actress Lupita Nyong’o. Her DM read: “I’m not sure if you will ever get this message, but it would be a dream come true if I could have Lupita in my headwrap and other wearable art.” And to her surprise, he responded! A few months later, Lupita was featured in Vogue Magazine with Melissa’s headwrap!
Despite Melissa’s overnight success story, one experience always keeps her humble. The success had her thinking her pieces should be fast tracked to the galleries and museums. But around 2015, she found herself with a piece of artwork that would not sell at any of her events. By 2018, it was a piece of home decor. Later that year she applied for a global contract with Spanx and decided to include the piece in her proposal. Ironically, out of all three pieces she submitted, they chose her infamous unsellable piece!
Experiences like this have enriched Melissa’s story as an artist and pushed her to new heights. Aside from Spanx, her art was used in the campaign for the 2019 Ford Explorer vehicle. She has had collaborations and interviews with Forbes, Nike, Pepsi Co., Champs, Art Basel, Home Depot, Sheen Magazine, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CBS 46, ESSENCE Festival & Magazine, Atlanta United, and more!
Mitchell envisions Abeille Creations as an Artistic Design house that produces art in many forms. She can paint, design clothing, be a creative director for campaigns, and then switch to being a motivational speaker! She continues to evolve and take on challenges in a journey she knows is a marathon and not a sprint. Vulnerability is considered to be a key piece of her brand that truly sets her apart from others. “I have learned to share ALL parts of my journey, so people will know what it really takes to be successful as an artist, and how social media can be a vital tool for that,” said Mitchell. Her social media is an artistic diary, and journal for manifestation.
Listening to her story, we asked, “what can’t Melissa Mitchell do?” Most recently, she manifested a very big accomplishment for her alma mater FAMU, by helping to raise $273k for students along with her fellow incoming Class of 2000 classmates! To learn more about Melissa Mitchell and her work with Abeille Creations, click here, and follow her work on Instagram @AbeilleCreations!