PROJECT: POP UP includes the Mothership of All Design on Essex Street.


MELROSE — Melrose welcomed four local brands to the downtown business district last week as part of Project: Pop-Up, in collaboration with UpNext. Until October 31, shoppers can visit Mothership of All Design at 14 Essex St. and the Melrose Collective, a collaboration of three brands: Jill Paz Illustration, My Sunday Afternoon (MYSA), Roü-Mi Candle, next door at 12 Essex St.

“One of the best ways we can support local businesses right now is to start our holiday shopping early, so this couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Jennifer Manning, Melrose Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. “These are four incredible brands with something for everyone. It’s a really great addition to our local business community.”

Founded in 2018 as an online store, Mothership of All Design offers a wide selection of Melrose spirit apparel and donates a portion of sales back to local schools and sports programs.

“We could not have asked for a better launch of our store. Project: Pop-Up and the overwhelming support from the City of Melrose has exceeded our expectations,” said Mothership of All Design owner, Glenn Blackburn. “Thank you to our friends, customers, new and old, Elected Officials and everyone who has supported and welcomed us.”

The Melrose Collective consists of three brands: Jill Paz Illustration offering art prints and portraits, event design and styling brand My Sunday Afternoon (MYSA), and Roü-Mi Candle.

New Melrose resident Jill Paz is a Hollywood costume designer and illustrator who has worked on productions such as Candyman, Nine Perfect Strangers, and a Disney Digital web series. Jill Paz Illustration began when she started doing portraits after she and her husband were left unemployed in spring 2020. Her shop offers art prints, portraits, and custom designed products such as stickers and resin.

“I am blown away with the City of Melrose and its people and thanks to Project Pop-Up my little brand has been given a place in the community,” Paz said. “Creating the Melrose Collective with Roü-Mi and MYSA has given me a home here and with it two friends and business partners I’d never know otherwise.”

Melrose became the third participant in Project: Pop-Up, an economic development initiative powered by UpNext, after receiving a Regional Pilot Project grant from the Massachusetts Office of Business Development (MOBD). The pilot program aims to revitalize village centers and commercial centers by attracting patrons to new and existing local businesses.

“The pop-up model is really ideal for emerging brands, especially in the current economic climate,” said UpNext Founder and CEO, Allison Yee. “Project: Pop-Up allows businesses to test drive a brick-and-mortar location at a subsidized rate with very minimal risk. We’re not only proud to give this opportunity to small businesses, many of which are women and BIPOC-owned, but also to add value and vitality to communities throughout the region.”

My Sunday Afternoon owner, Malden native Allison Lee Russell, whose brand strives to reduce mental health stigma, said participating in this program will give her the chance to see if her event and styling business is something she will be able to pursue full time in the future.

“Opening The Melrose Collective’s doors, and sharing my long-held vision for MYSA, to the community this past weekend was an actual dream come true,” said Russell, “The support we’ve gotten so far has been overwhelming and I am so grateful to be a part of this team, but particularly to Project: Pop-Up for granting us this incredible opportunity.”

Roü-Mi Candle founder, Prisca Mbiye, echoed these sentiments.

“This experience has so far been beyond what I had expected. To see my candles on shelves in an actually store and people buying them was not a dream I had envision to happen so soon,” Mbiye said. “I am forever grateful to Project: Pop-Up for providing this wonderful learning experience and platform for small businesses such as myself.”

Mayor Paul Brodeur decided to pursue the MOBD grant earlier this summer to re-invigorate vacant storefronts in downtown Melrose and support local entrepreneurs.

“I am proud but not at all surprised that this community has thus far been such a gracious host to these four brands,” said Mayor Brodeur. “These brands were thoughtfully chosen and are a great addition to our downtown area, even if only temporarily.”