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Milwaukee's theMINIclassy fashion company lets children express themselves

Local designers Michelle Lopez and Andrea Dotzauer are working to put Milwaukee on the fashion map, and they’re getting some help from celebrities like Kortney Kardahsian, Travis Barker, Tori Spelling and Ice-T.

For the past six years, Michelle and Andrea have been developing their high-end line of children’s streetwear -- theMINIclassy. While they both attended Mount Mary University for Fashion Apparel Design, Michelle and Andrea didn’t meet until years later through their significant others. They decided to pool their creativity to dress their own children in unique and functional designs and theMINIclassy was born.

Trying to keep overhead low, they began filling orders in Michelle’s dining room, using Instagram as their digital showroom, and leveraging relationships with other designers. Their social media presence caught the eyes of sales reps and stylists, propelling theMINIclassy into small boutiques and large companies, like Barneys and Nordstrom, and into the closets of celebrity children – yes, they get custom order calls from Trent Reznor himself and Beyoncé’s stylist, how cool is that?

The significant growth of theMINIclassy has allowed Michelle and Andrea to work with different partners and companies to continue to develop their brand. While some partnerships have worked out, others haven’t, and they’re okay with that. In a recent conversation with the designers, Michelle stated that over the years they’ve taken the advice of others, but that they’re starting to listen to their own advice more and more as they know their brand best and what works for them. And what works best for them right now is staying rooted in Milwaukee.

While family is a big reason they have stayed here, they also feel a commitment to the community. Michelle and Andrea have worked with their alma mater, Mount Mary University, to create externships with theMINIclassy for current students to experience what entrepreneurship on a smaller scale is really like. theMINIclassy has also donated clothing to local nonprofit groups like Independence First and Sojourner Family Peace Center. Michelle and Andrea also looking to work with the Ronald McDonald House to do a fashion show with patients. It is this sense of giving back that drew me to theMINIclassy, but the durability and funky designs don’t hurt either.

During this year’s Milwaukee Fashion Week, attendees will get a sneak peek at theMINIclassy’s spring line, which embodies what Michelle and Andrea have always been designing – clothing that is casual, comfortable and a way for kids to express themselves. You can catch theMINIclassy tonight during Milwaukee Fashion Week’s Gala at the Harley-Davidson Musuem’s The Garage.

Milwaukee Fashion Week also gives a portion of their ticket sales to a local nonprofit. This year, they are supporting The Charles E. Kubly Foundation, which seeks to better the lives of those affected by depression.