Mignonne Gavigan is the founder and designer of her namesake brand Mignonne Gavigan. Her love for nature, art, and traveling is seen throughout her handmade accessories. Partnering with craftsmen in India and Asia, Mignonne utilizes their 100-year-old techniques to perfect one-of-a-kind scarfs, earrings, and other accessories. We are honored to feature Mignonne as our October Mujer!
Who or what inspired you to start your own brand?
When I was working as an apparel designer right out of Parsons Design School, I was draping a runway dress on a mannequin. I had ripped up a vintage gown and was placing parts of it on the mannequin to get an idea of beadwork. There was a piece on the floor that I picked up, tied around my neck and walked home through Soho. Three different people stopped me and asked where they could buy one. I immediately recalled a professor's words saying that if we ever wanted to have our own line, it needed to be something totally unique in the marketplace. This was the birth of the “scarf necklace” which became the cornerstone of the Mignonne Gavigan brand. After working for other designers for a long time and making these necklaces for friends and family on the side, I saw the opportunity for success and launched MG 7 years later.
What is it that draws you to handmade goods?
I am a creative person who loves anything tactile. I’m very visual and when I see things, I think through how they were made- understanding the process and complexities of how things are created is such a passion of mine, I find it endlessly interesting and inspirational. It’s that story that compels me to help my customers better understand how something is brought to life and the incredible artistry that goes into the making.
What are some of your favorite pieces you created over the years?
The original MG scarf necklace, the Le Charlot, is one of my favorite pieces, is still part of our Classics collections and remains one of our best sellers year after year. Our butterfly earrings and brooches are my first personals I request each season, they are truly collectors items, and always personal faves. From our more hardware driven styles our Mini Delfina Earrings, Isla Pearl Earrings and Mika Mis-Match are at the top of my list and weekly go-to’s.
Tell me about the process of designing a new piece?
The process of design is the most exciting part. First there is a place in the world I go to for inspiration. I look at the textiles, tilework or heritage materials that artisans have created and use them as an information source to build new ideas. We work with very talented craftsmen in Mumbai, India for the bulk of our embroidery work. Over the past 2 years we have had the opportunity to work with the local artisans through a not-for-profit guild called NEST, which has been a dream of mine. Once we research an area, we come up with new ways of incorporating motifs or color stories or materials into jewelry. For example, this might mean translating tilework into beaded embroidery on one of our scarf necklaces or earrings. From there, our partners will create swatches for us to approve and the sampling process begins!
What is the one piece of advice for the next generation of women entrepreneurs?
Never give up. When you stick with something, it may feel like you aren’t making any headway, but good things happen with time. Give yourself grace and continue on your path. Once you get a little way down the road, you’ll look back and see that day by day you feel like you aren’t making any strides, but when you look back after a year or five years, you’ve made leaps and bounds.
How do you manage to juggle your career and your family?
This is a difficult part of anyone’s journey, but I’ve found that mindfulness is the best way to manage this juggle. Wake up with your loved ones and love them hard. Then come to the office and give it your sole focus. Learn how to leave your work at the office while you focus back on your loved ones once back together. Take time for yourself as well. If you aren’t at your best, no one else around you will be either.
What originally drew me to Mi Golondrina was the attention to detail in the handwork, and how people feel when they put one of your pieces on. Their faces immediately light up because their outfit has just been elevated drastically!
Items from your closet you can’t live without?
Mi Golondrina Soledad Blouse, my Proenza Schouler mules, Re-done Levi’s jeans, Rag and Bone sneakers, MG mini Delfina earrings and Seeker necklace!!
Last meal on earth?
Luisa’s Brick Oven pizza from my hometown of Charlotte, NC.
Favorite restaurant in NYC?
Mary’s Fish Camp in the West Village
Best movie you’ve watched recently?
Begin Again, Where’d You Go Bernadette
How do you style your Mi Golondrina pieces?
Very easily!!! What originally drew me to Mi Golondrina was the attention to detail in the handwork, and how people feel when they put one of your pieces on. Their faces immediately light up because their outfit has just been elevated drastically! With that, I like to pair the tops with easy, casual bottoms … jeans, jean shorts, sneakers and some subtle Mignonne Gavigan earrings. Or dress up the shift dresses with belts, some booties and maybe some more eye-catching MG jewelry like more fun, bold earrings or some of our Charm Necklaces. Regardless, you can’t go wrong!