Mandy Swanson and Michelle Walters put the “do it” in do it yourself projects. Their DIY entrepreneurial attitudes led them to create a lifestyle-clothing brand named Lumi for the Upper Peninsula and beyond, with a sustainable touch. The sisters grew up learning how to design and sew by participating in 4-H festivities every year. The youth program gave them the opportunity to enter pieces into a fashion show and be critiqued by a panel of judges. While at a young age this can be intimidating, the sisters felt exhilarated by experiencing how to make their patterns better. As they grew older they carried their design spirit with them, and became inspired when they took a trip to Cape Cod with their mother. Mandy states that they fell in love with the nautical lifestyle brands of the coastal region, and thought about how the UP does not have one of its own. They saw the opportunity to create a clothing line that reflects the earth-friendly passion of UP women.
The sisters came to Invent@NMU looking for assistance on building a website to carry their brand. They had the dedication to handle product development for the garments, but needed help finding the best platform to showcase and sell their pieces. The duo’s experience with Invent is a great example of how the program is there for when you need them, only providing the services you need to get your idea off the ground. Since its launch, Lumi has received immense enthusiasm from Marquette residents- the brand was the top voted design in an open contest at the 2017 Marquette Regional History Center Annual (re)Design Fashion Show, and earned Lumi the chance to be the featured designer in the 2018 event.