BC: What was the first piece of jewelry you ever created? Do you still have it?
ME: The first thing I made was an agate T-style necklace—it was proof that I was capable of doing anything if I had enough passion. I was proud of it, but I knew someone who would be even more proud: My mom. I gave it to her, and she still wears it today.
BC: What’s your design process like?
ME: My process can start from a couple of different points depending on where it’s going. Many factors come into play—for instance, my work for an individual might be more personal than a piece I’m creating for a store, or if I’m designing my collection for the season, I might try to jump ahead with a more imaginative approach. When I’m designing a collection for the season, I focus on a certain woman: Who she is, where she’s traveling, and what her lifestyle is like. I don’t have much time to sketch, but my mind is full of wonders of designs that I immediately put into reality.
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BC: Do you have a favorite material to work with?
ME: Gold and brass are my favorite materials to work with. From a design perspective, the mixture of texture and color and how they combine with gold or brass becomes inspiring. They also allow women to become innovative: They’re unique, but they still leave room for women to add their own stylistic flavor. I strive to create interesting jewelry that woman have a connection with.
BC: What inspires you?
ME: I find inspiration all over the place. My mom, for example, motivates many of my pieces. She has this great sense of style that I try to emulate in my work. I also find a lot of inspiration in fashion greats like Valentino and Alexander McQueen; their designs are dynamic and the colors they use are so vibrant. Art has a major role in stimulating my creative nature as well. I love knife oil painting; it’s like an explosion of color and texture that jumps off the canvas. I have also always been fascinated with African jewelry, as it really sets the bar when it comes to large statement necklaces full of rich colors. Then there’s New York City itself—the style and culture in New York is unbelievably lively and energetic, and I try to take that same energy and invent that spark in my pieces. And last but not least, my life experiences and challenges have been my biggest inspirations.
Up next: Mia’s favorite jewelry pieces and more!