A man wears a kimono and hat Image via Ojanvi
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Focus on Fashion with Orange Cosmic Mermaid | Interview

by Tanya Rincon
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Hey, this is Tanya with Fresh Music Freaks! I got the opportunity to chat with Piper O’Brien, founder of Orange Cosmic Mermaid for our very first installment of Focus on Fashion. Hey Piper! I’m excited to be chatting with the mastermind behind Orange Cosmic Mermaid, producers of all things sparkly for both Mermaids and Mermen!

How long has your business been around? 

Thank you so much, it’s such an honor to speak with you!! Orange Cosmic Mermaid has been adding a little extra sparkle to the world and all the mermaids and mermen in it officially since 2015.

What pushed you to make the jump into the small business world? 

It was a big jump!! I, the owner of Orange Cosmic Mermaid, had been making clothes for several years at this point for myself and friends and also wanted my own company but just thought it was a bit too overwhelming to dive into and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for it since I had a full-time career. Then fast forward five years, when a fairly successful businessman and friend, at the time, who is now my husband, asked me where I got my outfits and I said I made them; he was shocked. He then continued to say “Wow, why don’t you have a company?” He encouraged me to start my own company because he felt it would be a success. At that moment, the overwhelming feeling went away and I realized that it was now or never. I asked myself, “What am I waiting for?” I love fashion and making people happy and comfortable with their self-image through threads, and I was passionate about my work, so I did it, I started my company! I have now had my company for five years, and Orange Cosmic Mermaid is sold in 16 stores across the country, online, at popups at ten major music festivals a year. We also make custom garments and Merch lines for some professional DJs, famous actress’ and models. I have never looked back and have enjoyed this journey every step of the way. Every day I am grateful for my company, the experiences it’s given me, the people I’ve met, the lives it’s touched and the opportunities I’ve had and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

What support system did you have available when you started Orange Cosmic Mermaid? 

I am so grateful and blessed to have had a ton of support from my epic friends, community and my husband who have all walked the same path of starting their own business, some in fashion, some in festivals and some elsewhere.  I am grateful every day for the people in my life, you know who you are! I love you and wouldn’t be here without your love and support!

Many brands in the festival world focus on producing pieces for females specifically. As a female-owned brand, what has been the most notable positive that has come from opening up your creative scope to more genders? 

This is a great question! As everyone knows, women have tons of things to wear and lots of options. I’ve always been a guy’s girl and my guy friends are always complaining about how it’s so much easier for women to look fabulous, so I decided that I was going to change this. I decided to make stuff for all shapes, sizes,  sexes and gender identities! I have a gender-fluid line that I call “Unisexy” to empower everyone!! As a result of this, Orange Cosmic Mermaid has empowered men to embrace the feminine, women to embrace their masculine and everyone to step outside of their comfort zone. I feel that this is a huge positive because the way we grow is by stepping out of our comfort zone.

A man in Silver bellbottoms and a fringe hat
Jason Rivas glows in an Orange Cosmic Mermaid outfit | Image Via Ojanvi

How does being based in Los Angeles influence your designs?  

First off, I love L.A. and it inspires me every day! I’m very blessed to call L.A. my home and be surrounded by such an international, eclectic, creative, eccentric community. I gain a lot of inspiration from the events, artists, graffiti, music, and people in L.A. as well as my globe-trotting adventures!

I’m very much into your zero-waste model! What does your team do to ensure that your waste is minimized through your production and fulfillment process? 

Thank you! We source, design and hand make everything ethically in L.A. to exude your inner confidence and playful self.  After making all of the garments we reuse and re-purpose all of our scraps so we have zero waste! So yes, we are basically a ZERO WASTE company and what that means is we have never thrown out fabric in five years of creating and, just so you know, that’s 100’s of big fabric roll scraps used. The threads and needles do not get recycled (hence the word “basically”) but all of the scraps get re-purposed into items including hair ties, pasties, dust masks, bowties, swimsuits, headbands, yoga straps, armies, other projects, hats, headdresses and more. We have also partnered with a couple of organizations including Joyous Movement and some local schools.  We have also partnered with a couple of other creators so they could utilize our scraps for their art.  Joyous Movement is an amazing organization that teaches classes at senior citizen homes on how to make hand poms for their dance classes to bring joy to them in the last years of their life! Likewise, we have donated scraps to a couple of local grade schools for their arts and crafts classes. On top of reusing everything we also plan and digitize all patterns to maximize as much fabric as possible! We try to utilize all of our materials in every way possible! Orange Cosmic Mermaid is very Earth-conscious.  Not only do we make everything ethically and locally but we also donate a percentage of the proceeds to The Ocean Cleanup because Mermaid needs the Ocean and so do we!!

What was your very first vending event? 

The first-ever event we vended was Abundance and then Desert Hearts for a festival. The first-ever big event we vended was Lightning in a Bottle, our favorite until this day!!

A woman with long braids and a golden outfit
Jenny Bee looking spectacular in a golden outfit from Orange Cosmic Mermaid | Image via Randon Vannucchi

What are some of your favorite memories from vending at festivals? 

Some of the most precious memories that myself and teammates experienced were customers breaking down in tears because they’ve never felt so beautiful in their life! This is the purpose of Orange Cosmic Mermaid, to spread a little extra sparkle in the world. All of my pieces are hand made, designed and created by me to exude your inner confidence and playful self — whether it be out and about, in yoga, on a bike, at a festival, for a costume or even for performance. Yes, they are just clothes but if they can give someone confidence and make them feel beautiful in their skin then that is a huge win.

I have been following the Orange Cosmic Mermaid Instagram and I love your campaign to supply more masks to medical staff. You and your team seem very focused on doing what is possible to support the medical community during this outbreak. How can we best support Orange Cosmic Mermaid through this time? 

Thank you so much for asking! Yes, as the owner of Orange Cosmic Mermaid I love helping people and some of the people in need right now are our medical staff and small business owners, amongst many others. It’s a crazy time but I feel a lot of goodwill comes from this. A great way you could support Orange Cosmic Mermaid and other small businesses is to like and share their posts and pages,  and if you are in a place to, enjoy our sale!

*Featured models include Amber Grey, Jose (@Kaleidorabbit), Jason Rivas (@Makeupbyfabj) & Jenny Bee*

*Featured Makeup Artist @MakeupByFabJ*

*Featured Images Via Ojanvi + Ann Putney + Randon Vannucchi*

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