Carli Lampley - March 8, 2021
APOTHEKE x @moomooi
for International Women's Day
The Apotheke x @moomooi "International Women's Day" collaboration is the perfect harmony of two Brooklyn mama-owned-and-operated businesses coming together to celebrate females and give back to the community. Our "Apotheke Girl," who graces a limited-edition number of candles in the Canvas scent, is an earthy goddess wearing nothing but a few spring leaves and cradling a bundle of lily-of-the-valley. She appreciates stillness and simplicity as well the ritual of lighting a candle on any ordinary moment of any ordinary day.
Tell us a bit about yourself! We want to know the who behind MooMooi
I am a 35-year-old Brooklyn illustrator who has been living in NYC on and off since 2005! I am ethnically hard to identify, as half Chinese-Catholic, half Caucasian-Jewish. I have a love for everything sartorial as well as the colors, textures, and forms of the natural world. The undulating ruffles of a Sweetpea flower, the muted greens and ambers of a clementine, the delicate fuzz on a raspberry's skin-- these are the sorts of things that hold my attention. My hyper-sensitivity to all things visual has led me down different design paths. As an undergraduate at Barnard College, I majored in English literature and was hopping on the subway between classes to intern at Elle, cover NYFW for the Columbia Spectator or swing by button stores in the garment district while interning for fashion designers. After college I moved to Paris to pursue a Masters in French Studies (Columbia University) and eventually work in PR at Lacoste. I came back to NYC and thought I wanted to be an interior designer or architect, so decided to go back to Columbia (for the third time!) to pursue a three-year, full- time, professional Masters of Architecture degree. After all that, it was clear to me that the graphic representation part of the whole thing is what I loved most. I missed celebrating women and fashion. I needed to be creative in this realm. In such a competitive environment as Columbia's graduate architecture program, where everyone was so smart and talented and I was the girl coming in out of left-field with zero experience, I started making art. Specifically, 3d fashion collage. Pieces of gum as purses and flowers petals as skirts. Whimsical and childlike, a playful regression from the pressure I was feeling from the professional "adult" world. My joy showed, and as soon as I started sharing my work on Instagram around 2013, people noticed. Soho House asked me to go to Coachella with them in 2015 to draw celebrity guests, Town & Country did a feature on MooMooi that went viral on Pinterest. After I finished my degree, I said to myself "as long as I am meeting cool people and making an income, I am going to see where this illustration thing takes me..." That was 6 years ago and I haven't looked back since.
What does MooMooi mean?
My friends called me "Moo" in college and that was taken on Instagram so I added an extra "moo" and and "i" to make it sound kinda french - haha! Only later did I discover that "mooi" means beauty in Dutch! A happy coincidence! The name is weird and silly and fun just like the MooMooi illustrations. Also great for trademark purposes...
How did you get started in illustration? Have women and fashion always inspired you?
Sitting at my mom's kitchen table as a 4-year-old, drawing fabulous women in fancy dresses! Sweeping trains, ruffles, bows, cinched waists and power-shoulders... My nostalgic dad was always watching movies from Golden Age Hollywood with women like Rita Hayworth and Ginger Rogers, and the glamour of those silhouettes and the clothing of that era clearly had an early impact on me. Ten years of ballet as a little girl also honed a sensitivity to the grace and balance of the female body, and to the ability of fine movements to communicate feeling. I think fashion, at its best, celebrates and accentuates the woman who wears it.
What Barriers have you faced ,as a woman, in becoming successful?
The biggest barriers I have faced, as a woman, in becoming successful have stemmed from my own ideas of what success looks like. I attended Phillips Academy Andover, a highschool considered by many to be the most competitive in America. Before that, I spent years prepping to test into somewhere like it. Professional success, in the dialogue that filled these institutions, looked like founding a Fortune 500 company, working in banking, law, medicine, "going public" before 30 etc. The arts were part of the academic, but not the professional, discourse around me. This may have been the discourse I created around me, but nonetheless there it was. My parents were always supportive of any avenue I pursued be it "I want to be a lawyer" or "I want to be an illustrator" but the culture around me was not as forgiving. Coming to terms with how much money I should make, in what type of environment, surrounded by what type of people, with what type of pedigree- that's been the tough part. Creating less conventional measures of success for myself, like creative satisfaction, daily happiness and space to be still, is what I am working on now.
What advice would you give to other women who want to pursue their dreams and start a business?
Save up for long enough beforehand that you have some level of economic cushion. You will not feel pressured to say "yes" to every job that comes your way even if it's not for you. If you can be more selective in accepting projects or going down avenues that align with your values and aesthetic, you will be swimming in the right directly rather than treading water. Also, however you can, highlight what makes you different. Your uniqueness, though it may be obvious, is what is going to make you irreplaceable in overly noisy world.
Being a wife, a mother, and a business owner all have their own responsibilities and joys! (Believe us we know!) What helps you balance it all. Any tips?
Shifting my mental framework to see motherhood, marriage and business as less of a balance to be struck and more of a constantly shifting tide helps me accept my shortcomings and triumphs. Some hours, days, weeks or even years will be more rewarding in some areas than others and that's just how it goes. Something has to give. Being mindful of this constant flux has helped me accept all the messiness.
How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?
Women need to be each other's greatest champions of course. I make an effort to reach out to fellow female artists and entrepreneurs on a daily basis. I go the extra mile to check in and stay in touch. Women are tough enough on ourselves as it is. If we all shared information, advice and supportive sentiments, rather than live in a scarcity mindset, our world would feel more creative. The idea that there are only a limited number of accolades, dollar-sales or admiring attention to go around is self-defeating. The more we highlight the successes of others in our respective industries, the more attention we bring to these fields and the more opportunities we create as a result.
Is there a quote or mantra that has helped you through creative blocks or defeatingmoments?
“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work" -- Chuck Close. The idea is simply instead of waiting for a bolt of creative lightening to strike, just start creating something. It's in the process that you will make your discoveries and relevations.