Behind the Brand: Minnie Lane Phillips, Founder, Minnie Lane Designs
By Anna Griffin, Editor in Chief
Fiercely feminine and playful jewelry line, Minnie Lane Designs, was launched in 2017 by stylist and art director, Minnie Lane Philips, or Mimi as she is known. Celebrating girl power while merging art history and pop culture, this namesake collection evolved from Mimi’s impressive career in fashion as a stylist and art director, and was born to bridge a gap between fine jewelry and inexpensive, mass-produced fast fashion pieces. As a mother Inspired by global travels and the beauty she has seen, Mimi designs with longevity in mind by creating jewelry that can be passed onto future generations and not end up in a landfill, averting future waste. The resulting collection is both statement and minimal, timeless and vintage-inspired, yet new, sexy and fun, producing a refreshing form of eco-conscious, wearable art that always celebrates the power of women.
“I consider each piece an amulet to girl power, an homage to legendary women, and a celebration of art.”
- Minnie Lane Phillips
Coco Eco: Can you tell us about the early days of your career as a stylist and an art director?
Minnie Lane: Minnie Lane is the product of many design adventures that all began in my adolescence. I like to think of my collection as a line that has been unconsciously in the works for years, as it is essentially a return to my roots. After completing my studies in Fashion Design in the US, Paris, and New Zealand, I had my eyes set on the concrete jungle... where dreams are made of - New York City!
In 2008 I made the fashion capital home and launched my professional career working in design and production for Lela Rose, and more edgy independent fashion labels like Shelly Steffee. My work in design development segued into experimenting with its application by way of wardrobe styling. Working as a stylist put my imagination to work as I created stories through clothing and accessories with brands like Jessie James, Ralph Lauren, By Smith, DKNY, and most exciting, working one on one with personal clients.
Soon, in true New York Fashion, I wanted more. I was eager to get my hands not only on the clothes, but the environments they lived in. Naturally, I expanded to art direction and took an exciting position as Creative Presentation Coordinator with the Creative Department for the Ralph Lauren flagship stores on Madison Avenue.
In 2014, I started my own art direction company when I heard the siren call and followed my heart to Nashville. I took on great new clients like Cadeau, Reba McIntyre, Draper James, Karama Collection, Nashville Lifestyles, Country Music Awards, People Magazine, and Lemon Laine. Delightful projects like Reese Witherspoon’s book, “Whiskey in a Teacup,” and Martina McBride’s holiday cookbook added to the bill of collaborations. Nashville also allowed me to work closer consulting for my family business, Designmaster Furniture.
Most importantly, the fertile creative ground of Nashville inspired me to design again! Here in the capital of Tennessee, I honed in on my jewelry design skills, taking classes with the local talent and mastering my craft to give birth to my dream collection.
CE: When did you launch Minnie Lane Designs and what inspired you to evolve into jewelry design?
ML: Working as a stylist and art director is like a big scavenger hunt. Over time I started fantasizing about the perfect pieces of jewelry for clients and photoshoots. That was when Minnie Lane came to life. I created my first collection in 2017. It is everything that I looked for and dreamt of, but could never find.
Within the industry, I saw a big gap in the market between serious investment items and fun, mass-produced accessories that wouldn’t last a hand wash. My collection fills that void with fashion-forward pieces that are timeless in terms of design and quality, at an accessible price point.
In terms of my brand’s aesthetic, my personal style certainly informs my design process. An elegance that doesn’t take itself too seriously is my style mantra. This collection bridges high and low; statement and minimal; vintage-inspired and new; sexy and silly, and pop and surrealism.
The feeling of my brand rescues that playfulness we had as children, but in a sophisticated and classic way. I love playing with art history and pop culture references to create something wearable. I consider each piece an amulet to girl power, an homage to a legendary woman, and a celebration of art.
CE: As a female founder of a brand, what makes you tick?
ML: It’s a very special community to be a part of . . . Female founders. The support I feel from others is one of the things I love most. The thing that really makes me tick always has been and will be collaborating with other creative forces. I believe that we are so much stronger together and when our minds come together, especially from different backgrounds and fields of work, that is when my creative juices really start flowing and how the most special and loved pieces come to be!
CE: Why is girl power and paying homage to legendary women important to you? How does it influence the design of your pieces?
ML: I strive to serve the fashion leaders, the curious, the inquisitive, the loud, the proud, the out of the box thinkers, those who encourage diversity. We want everyone to feel powerful wearing our jewels, and to be free to be their most authentic selves.
We are constantly blown away by the community Minnie Lane has cultivated, and are always inspired by the fierce women (and men) who wear our jewels. It always excites us to see everyone rock #MinnieLaneIRL!
CE: Celebrating art is another important factor of your jewelry collection. Can you tell us about some of the artist collaborations Minnie Lane has done?
ML: Scarlett and I like to believe that we were separated at birth, and found each other in New York City. We both worked for designer Shelly Steffee - she managed the company's PR while I was designing upstairs. After work we would raid each other’s closets, and paint the town red from one dancefloor to another. Imagine a 2008 version of Edina and Patsy of Absolutely Fabulous. Together we have this really fearless and experimental energy. Now we have fully developed our careers in our passions and we still plan our outfits from afar, from my workshop in Nashville, to her studio in Mexico City. Alas our creative energy has evolved from the dancefloor to designing together... but toasting over bubbly beverages on the dancefloor will never end.
For me working with my friends is a dream come true. I am working on another collaboration with my dear friend, Alyson Eastman, who has the most covetable ready to wear collection made from incredible leather. We are collaborating on her hardware and reimagining the perfect leather accessories. I also am dreaming up a collection of home decor with a wonderful friend and set designer, Colson Horton, as well as another one of my dearest, Virginia Hart, who designs the most stunning paper goods. I can’t wait to show you all when it’s ready!
And because I am a dreamer . . . I would love to collaborate with Elsa Schiaparelli, Salvador Dalí, Picasso, Brancusi, Louis Bourgeois, Sheila Hicks, Nick Cave, David Bowie, and of course Dolly Parton!
CE: What is your most favorite piece that you’ve designed?
ML: The Scarlett bracelet is most certainly the gateway drug for the brand. Together with my best friend, visual artist, Scarlett Baily, we sculpted a nude woman to be worn as a bracelet inspired by her #DesnudaDiario (#NakedEveryday) portrait series. For this series, Scarlett did an open call for nude female models, and the product was amazing - 30 portraits of women representing various body types, who had never posed in the nude before. You could sense the liberation in her portraits. The feeling, along with the elongated and illustrative aesthetic of her work was when I knew we had to join forces and create something together.
I am so happy that this is the item that hooks people because it really embodies the ethos of my brand. It is truly wearable art. We worked together to sculpt the figure and it captures the playful, elegant, and unique style that Minnie Lane is all about. The nude bangle celebrates the beauty and power of the female form in a fun and celebratory way, at a time when it is more important than ever to stand out, be proud, and be seen as a woman.
CE: Why is it important to you to respect our planet?
ML: I believe we all need to do our part to take care of this beautiful world we live in. I have been so fortunate to be able to travel and explore new places, and am constantly blown away by the beauty that I see. I want to preserve that. I have a little baby as well, and want him to be able to experience the wonders of this world too.
CE: What are some of the ways you incorporate sustainability into your brand?
ML: I strive to create pieces that last and can be passed along to future generations - to create less waste. I design with the hope to create timeless quality pieces that are not part of ‘fast fashion’ to end up in a landfill.
CE: If you could say one thing to your younger self, what would it be?
ML: Don’t be afraid to take risks. Life is more fun when you make your own rules! More is more!!
CE: What legacy would you like to leave in this world?
ML: For those that don’t know, Minnie Lane was my grandmother. I was named after her and am constantly inspired by the way she lived life to the fullest, and how she was the epitome of style and grace. I am so proud to carry her name and hopefully some of her spirit. I would love to continue her legacy by connecting with people that I come in contact with, trying not to judge a book by its cover, and encouraging people to live authentically.