We Love Arts: Interview with MIJA

Image Credit: MIJA Jewelry

In less than four years, Michelle Guest has turned her passion for art and jewelry design into a thriving business.  MIJA Jewelry is literally everywhere, and has graced the pages of almost every fashion magazine and tabloid – decorating a truly A-list clientele (Gwenyth Paltrow and Ellen Pompeo are huge fans).  In this We Love DC exclusive interview, the designer and Glover Park resident lets us know a little bit more about what makes her collection special and where she goes to find inspiration in her very own backyard.

We Love DC: What is MIJA?

Michelle Guest: MIJA is a combination of the first two letters of my name (MIchelle) and the first two letters of my sister’s name (JAni). My sister was the one who really inspired me to start the business by creating a collection of children’s jewelry.  The company has since expanded and now also features a huge collection [of] women’s jewelry.  She really encouraged me to jump into a business I initially knew nothing about.  If it was not for her, I’m not sure I would have ever done it!

WLDC: What inspired you to create your collection?

MG: This jewelry collection really draws from so many different aspects of life.  Many pieces are inspired by nature (starfish, turtles, elephants, fish, pomegranates, etc), and many pieces are simply inspired by things I might see when I am out and about living my life (a Native American dream catcher hanging on a friend’s bed, a sculpture in a garden, etc).

WLDC: What makes your collection stand out amongst the rest?

MG: I really feel like every woman can find a piece that she loves in this collection.  We have customers ranging from 2 years old up to 80 years old!  I try to create pieces that are incredibly unique and interesting, but I also try to make sure that there are pieces that are just simple, classic, and incredibly wearable.

WLDC: Your jewelry has been seen all over the tabloids.  Who would be your dream person to see wearing your jewelry?

MG: I would love to see Kate Winslet in our jewelry.  She is classy, beautiful and incredibly talented.

WLDC: If you could only keep one piece of jewelry – what would it be and why?

MG: If I could only keep one piece of jewelry, it would probably be my stack of gold bangles…  I wear them all the time (dressed up or down).  However, I am also absolutely in love with our new pomegranate necklace.  And I still love our fish necklace…  I think it is so unique.

Image Credit: MIJA Jewelry

WLDC: What, in your opinion, is the biggest jewelry faux pas?

MG: The biggest jewelry faux pas is thinking that you cannot mix metals!  Please go ahead and mix yellow gold and white gold and silver and platinum!  Wear whatever suits your fancy and you will look fabulous.

WLDC: What about DC excites you?

MG: DC has a great mix of new and edgy fashion as well as traditional conservative style.  It is like a great big melting pot of cultures, food, fashion, style, and more!

WLDC: Where do you go to find inspiration when your home in Glover Park and how does that translate into your collection?

MG: When I am home, I love to go to the National Cathedral flower garden when it is in bloom.  It is beautiful.  I also just keep my eyes open for anything interesting that I see while I am walking about Glover Park or Georgetown. One of our necklaces that we are working on now was inspired by a tattoo I saw on the back of a girl sitting at the bar at Sushi Ko in Glover Park…  Inspiration can be found anywhere as long as you keep your eyes peeled.

Image Credit: MIJA Jewelry

WLDC: What are you working on now?  Do you have any new projects?

MG: I designed about 60 new pieces in December and January and they are still being finished now!  The entire process can take a long time so designs are constantly in the works.  The one new concept that we are launching this summer is our bridal collection.  Being newly engaged and looking for wedding dresses has inspired me to design some classically beautiful bridal pieces that are reasonably priced.

WLDC: Do you have any advice for aspiring jewelry designers?

MG: I think you have to do something that you don’t think anyone else is doing quite like you will.  Whether that be with your designs, your price point, or the materials you are using…  You have to be different (and better) in some way.

WLDC: Where in DC can you purchase MIJA jewelry?

MG: Lou Lou in Dupont Circle, F St. (Chinatown), and Bethesda, MD.  Kiskadee in Alexandria, VA.  Dalton Brody in the Cathedral Heights area of DC.  Charm in Georgetown.

For more about Michelle Guest and MIJA Jewelry – check out the website at www.mijajewelry.com.

Samantha can often be found daydreaming by the Rothkos of the East Gallery, sketching store facades along 14th, and snapping photos with her vintage polaroid at 9:30 club concerts. Since moving to DC in 2007 to get an MFA in Interior Design, her eyes can’t seem to be peeled away from the beautiful things in this city. Send any visual art, architecture, or design related news her way via Samantha (at) WeLoveDC.com

Comments are closed.