Exclusive Interview: Ariella Benayoun of The Midnight Collective
QueerGirl got a chance to sit down and talk with Ariella Benayoun, creator of The Midnight Collective. We spoke about the beginnings of The MDNT Collective, the inspiration behind the sad skeleton designs, and the further involvement The MDNT Collective wants to have in the LGBT community. Read the full interview below and make sure to get your tickets to the October 15th QueerGirl Party, hosted by Whitney Mixter, where The Midnight Collective will be a sponsored vendor at!
QueerGirl: Tell us a little bit about The Midnight Collective. What style does The Midnight Collective fall under?
Ariella Benayoun: I started The Midnight Collective in about 2012. I was going to a really expensive art college in Boston and in the first semester I launched the brand and decided to invest my time and money into it instead of spending $80k on a degree. It took off in that first year, and the following year, and eventually moved me across the country back home to Florida, and then across the country again to California. The Midnight Collective is my own art, in the form of streetwear. “The type of stuff you’d see in urban outfitters, but good quality art.”
QG: Some of the messages and sayings have a darker side to them. What inspired this?
Ariella Benayoun: Most artists draw from their own personal experiences. The ones that inspire me the most are the ones that made me hurt the most. At first I would just write sentences on my snapchat to “anonymously” vent about something. I noticed a lot of people responding to it and relating to it, so I continued to expand and add the sad skeletons in the composition. Now it’s kind of what people know me for.
QG: Have you always wanted to start your own clothing/lifestyle company?
Ariella Benayoun: My dream job as a kid was to design t-shirts for places like Pac Sun, Zumiez, etc. I never realized at that age that it was all individual brands doing their own thing. I never counted it as a feasible career path until I realized anyone can do it.
QG: How does the creative process work for you? Do you randomly think of ideas during the day, or is there a certain time you set aside for brainstorming?
Ariella Benayoun: I’ll definitely get random ideas throughout the day and make a note of them. Sometimes my friends inspire me. Sometimes I’ll wake up from dreams that inspire me. But its heavily inspired by the people that I’ve known.
QG: What has been the biggest challenge with the creation of The Midnight Collective?
Ariella Benayoun: The biggest challenge was in the first year of the brand, it actually had a different name and target audience. I was making things that I thought people would like. Not necessarily what I was proud of, or would even wear myself. I had to get over the fear of people not liking my own art style, and stop making stuff FOR other people. I rebranded everything and I’m now making things I’m actually proud of.
QG: What approaches to getting The Midnight Collective exposure has worked for you?
Ariella Benayoun: I always try to approach my brand as if i’m a first time buyer. Creating an aesthetic that will immediately catch someones attention. That’s what I feel has lead to the exposure sticking to people. You have a split second to catch their attention before they’re onto the next post on instagram.
QG: What audience does The Midnight Collective target? Is there a certain group of individuals that The Midnight Collective caters to?
Ariella Benayoun: The Midnight Collective’s main demographic is teens/young adults. Sad kids, happy people, dingleberry dingholes. More recently I’ve been trying to work more with the LGBTQ+ community.
QG: What are you most proud of in regards to The Midnight Collective?
Ariella Benayoun: I’m most proud of running the entire thing by myself since day one, and building the whole thing from 0 followers to where it is today. I’m proud of starting a company that paid off my school loans with zero knowledge from a business background, etc. I’m just proud of what it has taught me and how i’ve committed to it. It makes me happy.
QG: What is next for the Midnight Collective?!
Ariella Benayoun: Next stop: retail stores.
The Midnight Collective website: www.mdntcollective.com
The Midnight Collective Instagram: @themidnightcollective
Ariella Benayoun's Instagram: @ariellabenayoun