Have you discovered our exclusive garters and want to learn more? Check out our awesome interview with one of our bestest of friends, Loren from Mamie + James.
How did Mamie+James come to be?
Mamie+James was an idea before it was even a reality. During my junior and senior years of design school, I carried a photo of my Mamie and Papa around with me. I’ve always been inspired by their tales and one photo in particular summed up the energy I wanted to add to my future business. I knew it would involve my grandmother who inspired my love for vintage and dresses. I was so enchanted with evening wear that I ended up transferring to a different SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) campus in order to take an evening wear class. During a quarter studying abroad in Lacoste, France, I realized my dream would be to create my own design company with an emphasis on hand crafted details.
Where does the name Mamie+James comes from?
Mamie+James refers to my paternal grandparents, but I like to think the James doubles as a reference to me since I carry the name and I work in her memory. Mamie and my Papa (the Jameses in the equation) were the perfect example of when opposites attract. My Papa was from a wealthy family in Pennsylvania (a Yankee as we say in the South -- with love of course!) and my Mamie was from a hard working farming family in Mississippi. They worked as a team and always had the best travel stories whether from here in America or abroad in Morocco where they lived for a few years. Their vibrant go get ‘em view on life is something I try to capture in every M+J piece.
Where did you grow up? Where do you work from? Does this influence your design process?
I grew up in Mathiston, Mississippi and now call my maternal grandparents’ home my studio. It’s nestled between the pines of my family’s seventh generation tree farm and is the house my grandfather Breland built in the ‘50s, complete with original shiplap walls and vintage floral rugs covering the hardwoods. My grandmother always wanted me to be able to live and design in our home town of Mathiston rather than moving to New York City. I’m happy I have been able to honor one of her last wishes.
Living in a rural area definitely influences my design process. The ability to find calm and quiet allows me to hone in on my work without distractions. It also causes me to dig in and really research materials during my design process since running out to a specialty store for materials isn’t an option. I think where I live helps me in a number of ways - allowing me to find more options through research and helping me dream up new ways of mixing together components of each design.
What does your typical day look like?
I’m not sure there is a typical day at M+J! Most days seem to be more about business than design, but I’m obsessed with making new things and allow time for creativity daily.
I usually start my days around 11 a.m. (I prefer staying up late to work) with research and social media. Midday is usually reserved for emails, placing orders, photo shoots, and any projects that require a large chunk of time. I take a break around 5 p.m. to grab a bite to eat and then around 6:30 or 7, I check in on social media and dedicate time for ongoing projects. I always like to end my day with a revision of my to-do list in order to feel focused for the next day. When working on large projects like photo edits, rush orders for stores or my website, I find that working late at night is the best, uninterrupted creative time. It’s normal for me to work until 3:30 in the morning.
What is your design process?
My entire design process is based on weeks of research. I tend to look at a lot of antique and vintage ballet and circus costumes. Early 1920s costumes are amazing - covered in hand stitched, multi-layered detail. One garter was directly inspired by a vintage circus costume that had soft ruffles and sparkle.
What inspires you?
As far as inspiration goes, you know those moments when you look at an item and think it looks one way only to realize it’s something altogether different? I LIVE for those moments! Nature also fosters my creativity. When designing new collections, I mix walks on my property with tons of research of vintage garments, advertisements and old movies. My love for skirts came from watching Roman Holiday so many times during my senior year of art school. I imagine a girl planning her own getaway and adventure in every skirt I design.
What is your favorite material to use?
That would have to be a tie between silk and tulle. I’ve always been drawn to anything silk due to it’s slight sheen, gorgeous drape, and extra bonus for being natural. As for tulle, it’s incredibly airy and dreamy. My youngest memory of tulle is my Aunt’s sweet 16 dress. She gifted the dress to me a few years ago and it is one of my most treasured family heirlooms.
Tell us about your sourcing process.
My silks for the garters are purchased through a U.S. based fabric supplier with factories in India. They use eco-friendly dyes. Recently I’ve sourced laces and beaded trims from an 84 year old family-owned mill in England. Ecstatic was an understatement when I discovered them! I love companies with a story and family presence. Recently, I designed some gold plated M+J charms to serve as tags on the garters. They are made in New York by a company that has been family owned since the late 1930s.