NEW YORK — Mimi So is hoping to bring a sense of Zen to Manhattan’s bustling 47th Street jewelry district.
This story first appeared in the October 7, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In a monthlong renovation during which her boutique was closed, the fine jewelry designer threw out the chintz and reopened with a clean, minimal ambiance last month.
“I am a big believer in feng shui, so I wanted to choose materials that felt good,” said So, who gave birth to a daughter, Coco-Mei, last August. “Because I am here so much, I wanted to bring part of my home into the store.”
Though officially located at 580 Fifth Avenue, the store’s entrance and space is on 47th Street. The 500-square-foot unit opened its doors in 1993 and featured a merchandise hodgepodge, including leopard-print couches, crystal chandeliers, framed photos and baroque mirrors. In the renovation process, the busy feel was replaced with serene wooden display cases and desks, a graphite stone floor and purple velvet.
The serene environment offers a suitable backdrop for the new direction So is taking. The designer’s new Sesi collection features pavé diamonds set in the shape of a seven-armed starfish in 18-karat white gold, which spins and converts itself into a brooch or can be clipped onto beaded necklaces made with precious and semiprecious stones, such as aquamarines, rubies and blue sapphires.
“I veered away from creating heavy pieces and, in turn, created Sesi, which is whimsical and free-spirited,” So said. “The inspiration for the Sesi collection is also reflected in the redesigning of the store. I want my clients to have a comfortable place to shop for themselves and their loved ones.”
So’s jewelry retails from $500 to $150,000, though one-of-a-kind pieces can go up to $350,000. So said first-year projections for the newly renovated store are more than $5 million.
Meanwhile, Stephen Magner, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for precious jewelry at Neiman Marcus, recently picked up the line and will feature it in 11 doors, including Las Vegas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco and Palm Beach, Fla.
“We met Mimi So a little over a year ago and we liked what we saw,” Magner said. “It was refreshing, somewhat contemporary, and we just now committed to Mimi and will represent her in a goodly amount of stores. We expect great things from the jewelry.”