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Start Your Business Success Stories

Memory, Art & Sustainability: My Unusual Path to the Fashion Industry

Memory, Art & Sustainability: My Unusual Path to the Fashion Industry Credit: Nima Veiseh

For the majority of individuals, everyday memories can only be traced back as far as a week. However, I am able to recollect every single moment of my life since December 15, 2000. Being diagnosed with a rare neurological condition, hyperthymesia, has enabled me to see time differently.

Known to affect only 50 people worldwide, it is a condition where an individual possesses superior autobiographical memory. To date, I am the only individual using paint to explore the dynamic nature of memory and its reflection of the human condition. Through my business, I have the luxury of taking an interdisciplinary approach to fashion, incorporating elements of sustainability, economics and high art.

I never expected to end up in fashion. Although I'm a painter, I studied design and sustainability and was prompted to create a fashion line, Dress Abstract, which follows a socially conscious model and brings awareness to the human condition, as the fashion industry tends to overlook these factors. Part apparel, part gallery, Dress Abstract is an artful approach to timeless style and fashion. Each piece of clothing is inspected, tracked and signed, like any limited-edition piece of art — making for the ultimate collectable item, translating art from canvas to clothing.

At Dress Abstract, we have many initiatives that set us apart from most apparel lines. This includes our No-Landfill Promise: Since each product is a handmade piece of art, if it is ever damaged and the owner thinks it needs to be thrown away, Dress Abstract will pay to have it returned to us, so we can account for every piece we make, preserving its value, and preventing pollution to the environment. We also reimburse the client for 50 percent of the original cost toward to purchase of a new product. We always want our customers feeling amazing in our products, so we act as custodians for the pieces.

Our products are handmade or assembled in the U.S.A. with the help of refugees and displaced peoples who we support and employ. They were quite often textile and fabric experts in their home country, but would not otherwise get the opportunity to practice what they love. We do this to also help empower them in their new American communities, which are part of our mission of creating a positive economic feedback cycle that helps not only to support and employ refugees, but as a means of helping the U.S. economy as a whole.

My memory allows me to visualize life in terms of layers and systems that are all interacting with each other. In business, the many interacting layers between teams and processes give a lot of opportunities to connect those layers in different way. Having an appreciation for the different ways that these layers are capable of connecting helps one to tap into an exponentially greater number of possibilities for creating value within a system.

About the author: Nima Veiseh is the founder of Dress Abstract. His latest project is a TedX talk on "Memory and Mindfulness," which includes a 360-degree view of his art studio and gallery of clothing and art pieces. For more on Nima and the company, visit www.dressabstract.com.

Edited for length and clarity by Nicole Taylor. Have a great entrepreneurial story to tell? Contact Nicole at ntaylor@purch.com with your pitch.