When Melissa Mitchell was quarantining last year, much like the rest of the world she became restless. Unlike most of us though, she used that time to create over 100 digital art pieces.
The self-taught artist said she heard the voice of God tell her to get to work. Listening to that calling landed a deal with Foot Locker to create a capsule collection of athletic apparel featuring her vibrant designs. “I’d been in this place of forced isolation and stillness before when He told me to create before I even knew how,” Mitchell said, referring to the devastating snowstorm of 2014 that left Atlanta, Georgia residents quarantined in their homes for days.
Luckily, like then, she allowed her creative spirit to carry her through challenging times.
The Miami-bred PK (preacher’s kid) has always had a special connection with the two most important things in her life: spirituality and creativity. “My father was very involved in church and was also an incredible designer, so I had no choice but to be creative,” she said.
Mitchell’s incredible work ethic birthed her design brand, Abeille Creations seven years ago while still holding down a full-time job with another company at the same time. This is an incredible feat since Abeille was an almost instant success. Her larger-than-life has been featured in Vogue and the likes of Lupita Nyong’o, Tabitha Brown and Amara La Negra have proudly sported her textile art via vibrant headwraps. Mitchell explained she believes people gravitate to her designs because they can feel that it’s her way of communicating with God.
“I don’t always use my mouth to speak to Him,” she said. “I think people can feel that my prayers are threaded through the art and are a way of expressing my gratitude for everything he’s blessed me with.” The brand’s consistent success didn’t drive her to rest on her laurels though. In fact, she just recently left her job this year, which also fell on the 7-year anniversary of the start of her design journey in February 2014.
Mitchell said this is because she’s never been the type of creative entrepreneur to believe or encourage artists to abandon all financial security to chase their artistic dreams.
“Here’s the thing, I don’t think people need to quit their day job to be successful, at what they love,” Mitchell shared with Essence. “I have a substantial 401k and have spent time building my savings before deciding to quit my corporate job…I’m not the average creative.”
Now, with her Foot Locker partnership, the latest installment in her growing brand, she’s finally pivoted her focus to her art full-time. Mitchell’s 13-piece line will consist of joggers, jackets, leggings, biker shorts, hats, and more in the likeness of her wearable art designs.
The ABL collection holds a very special place in Mitchell’s heart, explaining that the Foot Locker opportunity came together shortly after another large brand reneged on their deal out of the blue, leaving the designer shellshocked.
“The line is called ABL, A Better Life,” she shared. “I knew the other opportunity did not move forward because there was something bigger and better waiting for me. Always trust the timing of your life.”
The exclusive apparel will debut in Foot Locker, Footaction, and Champs Sports stores nationwide and sold for a limited time only.