Portraits: Michelle Hallett
Artist, business owner, lover of design and Hannah Lavery muse
(Images: Amor Coetzee; accessories: collaboration by iloni and dayfeels; Make-up: Makeupanddelight )
Michelle is a colourful and exuberant creative who aims to combine art and interior design through her Michessie brand of bold, painterly designs for fabrics and feature wallpapers. Raised in Zimbabwe, Michelle later moved to South Africa to study but spent most of her adult life living outside of South Africa in various parts of the world including Budapest, Swaziland and Angola. Michelle currently lives in Johannesburg with her husband renovating their second home whilst developing her Michessie brand. As a qualified fitness professional and previous fitness club owner, Michelle also considers fitness a big part of her life. ‘Like many, love few, and always row your own canoe’ is advice Michelle likes to live by.
As an avid traveler, who has lived and travelled to numerous cities of the world, how would you say these travels have impacted and changed your perspective on life?
I wouldn’t say I’m an avid traveler but I have been lucky enough to experience different cultures and lifestyles, which definitely does change ones perspective on life. Living in a foreign country forces you out of your comfort zone and makes you evaluate yourself and your purpose with more honesty than you normally would. Of course being exposed to fabulous and exciting cities like London, Paris, Los Angeles or Vienna is stimulating, but seeing extreme poverty and appalling social conditions hits a deeper nerve.
What are you passionate about? What matters most to you?
I am strict about fitness and good health as a result of clean living. I love animals and am deeply disturbed by the cruelty to animals that still exists in the world. I believe that women around the world should have equal rights to men, and I hate abuse of power. I love art, and all things creative – jewellery, fashion, furniture, architecture and design, and I most certainly care about the wellbeing of my family and friends and wish for them health and happiness.
You mention that you believe women should have equal rights to men. Can you give us an idea of what makes you feel empowered as a woman?
We are not the same, happily we will never be the same, but of course women should have the same opportunities as men. In most cases men are lucky enough to have an inborn sense of power, but that doesn’t make me feel less empowered. I’m empowered by being OK with who I am.
How would you say you use your clothes, style and accessories as an expression of who you are as a woman?
I love the way clothes and accessories tell a story about a person, and although I take an interest in what is “in fashion” I am not a slave to it. I know what suits my personality and body type, and I am happy to colour out of the lines sometimes.
You mention that Michessie is involved in numerous pro bono initiatives for Joint Aid Management (JAM). What inspired you to start this work and what have you gained personally from these pro bono activities?
I was introduced to JAM by a friend and I was most interested in their pledge “helping Africa help itself”. I make a very small contribution to an awesome organisations school makeover programme. They inspire me. I do it because I can and I love doing it. It is great to be part of something that impacts a community so positively.