Mignonne Gavigan Smith
How your clients refer to you:
Mignonne or Maggie
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.mignonnegavigan.com
How many years have you been in business in NYC?
Our brand, Mignonne Gavigan, has been in business in NYC for 3 years. I have been working as a designer in NYC for the past 13 years.
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
I graduated from Parsons and went on to garner over ten years of experience in design before launching my own collection. I worked at Marc Jacobs Collection, FORM, Khirma Eliazov, Rachel Roy, and, most recently, I was the Senior Shoe Designer at Loeffler Randall before leaving to begin a new chapter that is Mignonne Gavigan. It was this experience of designing for other brands - big and small - that pushed me to develop my accessories collection, defined by ornate details, elevated craftsmanship, and luxe materials.
I was draping a gown for a runway show back in 2007 and had ripped up a vintage dress to use as beadwork inspiration. There was a piece on the floor that I picked up, fastened around my neck with a safety pin and walked home through Soho. People literally stopped me on the street and asked where they could buy one! I started making them for close friends and family, utilizing couture embroidery contacts that I had made through my experience designing apparel, handbags and shoes. We still work with these factories today! I knew I needed experience in the industry to eventually run a successful brand one day, so I kept designing for other brands in order to hone my design expertise and gain a wide breadth of knowledge in the space. Derived from that first piece of vintage fabric pinned around my neck, I began calling the pieces that launched the collection, “scarf necklaces.” These core styles are the pieces that our brand’s DNA is based on (couture apparel details, expert craftsmanship, and soft elements), and now the Collection has evolved from our Signature Scarf Necklace to include earrings, bracelets, and scarves that speak to all ages.
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
I was the first designer to bring the idea of a scarf necklace to the jewelry field. Our pieces bring a piece of couture to the everyday and offer a new way to wear statement jewelry. We like to tell people our pieces are perfect for a night out, but they wear especially well with a t-shirt and jeans.
What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options?
The Mignonne Gavigan collection aims to redefine statement jewelry using unconventional materials, apparel techniques and couture details. We have had such a positive reaction season after season, and I feel that the versatility of our designs, in terms of how they can be worn by so many different people with such different senses of style, really speaks to the longevity of our brand.
How do you positively impact your clientele?
Mignonne Gavigan pieces make our customers feel bold and special. We get countless customers who tell us that their MG pieces consistently make them feel unique, no matter what they are wearing. We often get customers who tell us that during their pregnancies, our MG scarf necklaces were their go-to accessories for dressing their bumps. It’s exciting to hear how much people love their pieces and how the accessories become part of their memories after being worn during meaningful times in their lives and at special occasions and events.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is that I’m doing something I love. I’ve worked in the NY fashion industry for over a decade and I always knew I wanted to create a brand of my own, and I’ve worked hard every day to achieve that. When you have your own brand though, it never feels like work. You work around the clock because it’s your passion and doesn’t feel like “work.”
What is your favorite secret NYC spot?
My favorite NYC spot? I am a North Carolina transplant and Mary’s Fish Camp in the West Village always reminds me of my southern roots and it’s been my husband and I’s favorite place to eat since we started dating.
How do you benefit mamas?
I recently became a new mother and benefiting mothers is a newfound passion of mine. I love HeyMama and Well Rounded and have worked with both businesses to offer ways to contribute to mothers, whether it’s through donating, offering advice or hosting events.
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
The most memorable feedback a client has given me is that the MG pieces give them a sense of individuality and confidence.
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field:
I used to work for Jessie Randall, the designer behind Loeffler Randall and it was such a pleasure to be around her creativity. She has an incredible aesthetic and is always kind. I also admire the working environment she created. The people that work on her team are all people you want to be friends with, plus they love their jobs. She has three kids of her own and she amazes me with her ability to juggle everything so well while creating beautiful product.
Ariane Goldman is the CEO and founder of HATCH clothing which I have recently become obsessed with. As a first-time mom, I was introduced to HATCH while pregnant and still am wearing my HATCH pieces (3-months post-pregnancy). I love the cool, effortless vibe of her pieces and the quality of the materials she uses is excellent.
What is the best advice anyone's ever given you? Or what is your "mantra" / words to live by?
Be yourself, don’t ever give up, and treat people the way you want to be treated. Dreams can come true if you keep working to build them every day.
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving trick?
As a working mom, my best time saving trick is give myself less options. 1) Have an easy hair up-do to use when you don’t have time to wash your hair. 2) Develop a ‘uniform’ so you don’t have to think about getting dressed (like jeans and a t-shirt ) and throw on an MG piece. 3) Use an online grocery service that refills the necessities once a week with the push of a button.