Alum succeeds in hatching art business

Amber Snyder

NMU alumnus and Hermansville, Mich. native Michele Dugree always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur but didn’t know how to make it happen. Since graduating from NMU in 2006 with a degree in art and design, Dugree has found a creative outlet and financial success through her art.

Dugree now runs her own design business, Revisions Design Studio. She sells handmade ceramic accessories, lighting, jewelry and egg-shaped candles in an online store.

Dugree took an interior decorating job in Marquette after graduation. She said the job didn’t meet her desire to work with her hands and make ceramic pieces, so Dugree starting making ceramic products in her apartment’s basement in her free time.

A collection of Dugree’s egg-candles.

Revisions Design Studio started out as a side project but has turned into a full-time career for Michele since being invited to the esteemed International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), the largest fair of its kind in the country, in 2009.

“The ICFF is where it all started,” said Dugree. “I was invited by Design Boom, a blog dedicated to helping young designers get a start, and brought prototypes of my products. After attending the fair, we got a call from Target about picking up our egg candles online and in select stores. The candles have really taken off.”

Michele’s husband, Torrey Dupras, started helping with the business after Target Corporation picked up the product. Dupras and Dugree bought a house with an attached 2,000 square feet studio in Gwinn, Mich. just before the Target Corporation’s order.

“When Target picked up the egg candles, we took a chance and quit our day jobs,” Dupras said. “We really took a chance because we weren’t sure if it was going to happen.”

Dugree’s products are now being featured in the spring catalog and online store of the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Dugree said that this has created a lot of publicity for Revisions Design Studio.

“The media connections at MoMA have helped get our products out there,” said Dugree. “We were featured on Daily Candy, a blog, and they might feature us on the (NBC) Today Show. We’ve been in some magazines and hope we’ll get more attention around Easter with our egg candles.”

Michael Cinelli, the associate dean and director of the school of art and design, said he was happy Dugree decided to stay in the Marquette area and run her business.

“Michele is our shining example of what art and design students can do,” Cinelli said. “It’s really impressive to be as successful as she is in such a small amount of time.”

For Dugree, design work is gratifying and exhausting.

Torrey Dupras and Michele Dugree a married couple who work together in their business, Revisions Design Studio.

“There have been more challenges than you would believe along the way,” she said. “They don’t teach you how to make bar code labels in college or how to make production plans with corporations. I’ve had to learn to be more than just a designer.”
With the number of orders from MoMA, Revisions Design Studio’s staff has been putting in many hours.

“Sometimes seven days a week, 16 hours a day is normal. You have to have a lot of dedication,” Dugree said. “Art is what you put in it.”

Dugree and Dupras said that they have ideas about where they want to take the business in the future.

“We want to start doing custom lighting that integrates smart technology,” Dupras said. “We want to produce limited amounts and keep all the work in house.”

Information about Revisions Design Studio and its products can be found at www.revisionsdesignstudio.com.