Starting out as a children’s book illustrator, Denim artist and designer Lauren Lacy, began her Atlanta-based business Miss Lacy Studios in 2007 and her denim brand, MLS Denim in 2018.

If she had to describe her company, Lacy said Miss Lacy Studios/MLS Denim is a place where imagination and creativity come together. Her job as an artist, she said, is to bring her client’s ideas to life in a one-of-a-kind way.

“Whether I am creating a denim portrait, a children’s book, a one-of-a-kind denim jacket, a mixed media painting (the list goes on and on) I do it to the best of my ability and will go above and beyond to make sure what I create brings a smile (or happy tears) to my client’s face(s),” she said.

Malcolm X in Denim. Photo courtesy of MLSDenim

Additionally, Lacy was also at the Natural Hair Show event back in April where she talked with the Atlanta Voice about her work and passion.

Lacy said her art is considered “mix medium” where she paints with acrylic, but then applying denim accents on top of them. She also creates jewelry using pleather and sometimes denim.

She also said denim has always been a love of hers and she’s been doing denim for about a year and a half now but has been drawing since she was two years old.

Prior to starting denim, Lacy was a children’s book illustrator because she went to Savannah College of Art and Design to be a comic book artist.

“I started out distressing denim, creating denim jackets, and repurposing denim as well, so it kind of transitioned into creating this because I love fashion, but I’m also a children’s book illustrator, so creating characters come natural to me and I wanted to celebrate Black women as well,” she said. “I love the fact that I get to experiment with different skin tones, hairstyles, different hair textures, doing the head wraps, the locs, the flowers, the butterflies, I’m just happy I get to experiment.”

To check out and purchase Lacy’s work, visit Also follow Lacey via Instagram at You can also find Lacy on YouTube.

Beyoncé-Black Is King in Denim. Photo courtesy of MLSDenim

The Atlanta Voice: Why did you decide to start your business?

Lauren Lacy: So, I started my business during the recession under Bush. My friends and I DID NOT graduate at the best time, so the only opportunities we were able to obtain were contract, temp and freelance. It was because of the lack of opportunities that I began my career as a freelance illustrator/graphic designer and artist.

AV: Was there a moment that inspired you to start this business?

LL: I would not really say there was a time that “inspired” me…it was more about “Hey I need to pay my bills and get some income coming in, so let’s go!” LOL.

AV: Is there a mentor in your life that inspired/inspires you as a business owner?

LL: Most definitely! My friend and mentor Jerell Gantt (@imitationbyjerell) has been there with me and for me since Day 1 of my denim artist journey. He is and continues to be so successful in his career as a full-time artist. His drive, work ethic, and commitment to his growth as an artist has truly inspired me to continue my journey of getting better and challenging myself!

AV: You attended the Natural Hair Show back in April where we met. What was the importance for you as a Black artist to attend the show and get your work out there?

LL: The importance of coming to a venue like the Natural Hair Show, especially for artists, is exposure because you never know who you’re going to meet there, and you can gain clients as well. You never know who’s going to refer you to someone else. Last year I did a piece on Malcolm X for a show and the person who bought it knew (Football Coach) Deion Sanders and got permission to do a piece for him. I never thought in a million years that the piece would result in that, so you never know who’s going to be there, a lot of people are incognito. Also, the environment is very warm, very inviting, and supportive because I think a lot of our people don’t see a lot of Black artists a lot, especially Black female artists too. It shocks them.

AV: What are your business goals for the remainder of the year?

LL: My goals are to continue to do as many events as possible showcasing my art, networking with new and hopeful clients, continuing to build my following and number of supporters and get my income in the 5 figures!!!

AV: Any advice to future business owners about taking the plunge?

LL: Oh wow…hmmmm…honestly JUST GO FOR IT!! One of the hangups that I always had before I started a new venture was, I would always overthink EVERYTHING (literally!) And it is because of this that I would sometimes miss opportunities. Nothing is ever going to be truly perfect so stop thinking that you must “wait for the perfect time.” Sometimes the best inventions, creations, and ideas appear and are created at the most non-perfect time.