Kristina here, fearless and hard-nosed journalist who can scare Barbara Walters incontinent. Okay, maybe that's something anybody can do to Barbara these days. Oops, I'm bad.
Laughing aside (seriously, stop, okay?), it is my pleasure to introduce Christine Mighion, a designer extraordinaire and a truly remarkable person. I've seen Mighion's designs around and every time my breath catches. So when the opportunity arose to interview Mighion herself, I jumped for joy! Yay! See me jump! Okay....maybe not. Good plan.
Without further ado, let's bring on the questions!
You were encouraged to pursue a more "practical" career by your family, according to your bio. What's the story behind that, and how did you make your dream a reality? My mother was a single parent for most of my life and she felt that one of the best things I could do for myself was to pursue a career that would allow me the freedom to take care of myself financially. She encouraged me to check out dental hygiene, because she felt that it would be a great choice for me and helped me gear all of my studies from that point on through high school towards this goal. I always loved art and recall once telling her that I wanted to go to art school, but she was very against it and so I became a dental hygienist. Although I was a good clinician, I recall not fitting “the mold” and the head of the school even sat me down and asked me if I "wouldn’t rather go into fashion design or art".
The transition from dental hygienist to jewelry artist really came once I had my second child and began to stay home with my children. Although I loved being home, I still had this pull to do something creative again and something for myself. I took one metalsmithing course and was hooked. Shortly after, I began to have a sense of knowing that this was what I was the right path. Over the years, the voice to be creative was always whispering in my ear. It just took a bit time and growth to listen to it.
Truly inspiring! Speaking of inspiring--you're inspired by nature and things around you -- can you give us a couple of examples of how you've translated inspirations into a design? I spent several years in Hawaii after college and fell in love with the islands and really began to appreciate the beauty of the world we live in. I walked away from dentistry while I was there and began working with adults with developmental disabilities through the Easter Seal Society of Honolulu. I had the privilege of working with so many amazing people who had strength and beauty beyond what most people saw. Both of the beauty of the environment and the beauty of perceived imperfection fascinated me, and I believe have strongly influenced my designs. This is most easily seen in my love of pairing watery blues with the sunny warmth of gold; balancing an almost perfect stone with a band that has been hammered and appears imperfect. With my resort collection coming this summer, you will see multiple references to the ocean and surf.
How do you start a typical day? Coffee? Snoozes? Email? My day is really less than glamorous. I start early, because I have two children and currently one exchange student to get out the door. I wake with a hot cappuccino and a bit of organized chaos! Once I am home, I head to the computer to answer emails. Usually, I am in the studio by 9 am and work until hunger strikes. Depending on how busy I am, I try to get an hour or so in at the gym before picking up the kids. Once we get back home, I am usually finishing the pieces that I worked on earlier and getting things ready to ship. Dinner, computer, mommy stuff, computer, crash in bed! I guess one of the things I love most, is that my day is really quite flexible and I generally work and play as I want.
Which comes first: the design, or the gem? To clarify -- do you plan it all out in your head or in sketches first, then find the gems to match the vision? Or are you inspired by a gem and work around that for the design? It’s often difficult for me to explain my creative process. Often a design starts with a stone or an idea, but I rarely sketch out the piece. I may sketch out some rough ideas when trying to come up with complimentary pieces for a collection, but this is just a beginning point. The design comes together while I am working with the metal and the end product often comes with an unexpected twist. Although many of my designs may be quite simple in form, I do work with them for quite a while, massaging them slowly into something more beautiful than I initially imagined. It’s really quite an exciting process!
What do you like to do for fun? I do find great enjoyment in simple pleasures such as taking a mid day break to sit outside and have a piece of chocolate and a cappuccino. Summer is really my favorite season and on the weekends, we spend a lot of time at our lake home. I love being in the water and most days at the lake consist of time out on the lake and spending time with friends there. In the winter, we travel to tropical destinations frequently. We are a family of scuba divers and we plan nearly all of our travels around that!
You practice sustainable design -- tell us a little more about how you achieve that in your business. First and foremost, is the use of recycled metals. Mining for new gold is really a destructive process for the environment and for the people who live nearby. I use recycled gold and recycled silver in all of my designs. I purchase 100% recycled metals and nearly all of my scrap gets recycled. Additionally, I try to use not only conflict free diamonds, but ethically mined stones whenever I can. This can be a bit of a challenge since so few stones are truly “ethically mined,” but I am pleased with the growing awareness from the industry of this need. Then there are the little things in my day to day work that I think will make a difference in the long run. I use recycled boxes, paper, ink cartridges, etc. I don’t print invoices to send with my purchased items and I recycle virtually all box and packaging material that I receive. We are huge recyclers here! I also actively seek vendors to work with who have the same philosophies. I am currently beginning to look at other environmentally conscious businesses and watching their sustainable practices so that as I grow, I will be ready to transition into these processes seamlessly.
Do you have any "go-to" pieces in your collection that you gravitate towards when selecting the day's jewelry? I’m an earring and ring kind of gal. I really love to wear my Simple 14k Gold and Chocolate Diamond Hoop earrings! I think they really represent my style, which is why I gravitate towards them so often. I love pieces that are simple, earthy, and easy to wear, yet have that little bit of unexpected glamour. I also love my rings and have many one of a kind rings that I have made just for myself!
Now. For the most Serious Question Of All Time. Which do you prefer: Pretty, Shiny, or Sparkly? And why? Wow…my first thought was pretty, because I love the beauty I find in the range of colors and unique qualities of gemstones. Yet, once I went a bit deeper into this question, I believe my preference is truly sparkly! It’s that bit of sparkle within a beautiful stone that gives my designs more weight and balance. It’s that bit of sparkle that gives me a feeling of beauty when I get dressed. Sparkle is noticeable; it breathes life!
I couldn't agree more!
I hope you enjoyed this designer interview--I hope to have many more in the future! Please check out Christine Mighion's amazing designs by visiting her website. This interview was strictly editorial. No endorsements, compensation, or sponsorships were involved in this article.