In 1969, Mignon Faget began a clothing company with a simple thought in mind. “My goal was to make my life interesting,” she said.

This year, the New Orleans-based jewelry designer celebrates 45 years in business, her company now boasting five locations, including a flagship combination boutique and workshop in the heart of New Orleans, 40 active wholesale accounts and more than 75 full-time employees.

Reflecting on her lengthy career, Faget recalls how the brand originally drifted from ready-to-wear and accessories to primarily jewelry. “The clothing was difficult because we made everything one up,” she said. “I had a graduate from Tulane’s business school who worked for me and she said, ‘I’ve figured out that for every dress you sell, you lose just under 10 dollars….I think you should concentrate on the jewelry.’”

Faget cites nature and the architecture of Louisiana as the main inspirations behind her designs. “Dynamic transformation is a common theme in my work,” she added. This fall, Faget will introduce her collection, “Hardwear.”

“With the Hardwear collection, I explore the hardware store once more and refine the hard-on-soft aesthetic of my early clothing designs,” she said. “Hardwear transforms the ordinary to the extraordinary and examines the impending energy formed in the links of industrial chains.” The collection, done in sterling silver and 14-karat gold, will retail for $75 to $600 and be available in Mignon Faget stores beginning Sept. 10.

The designer has also introduced a special piece, an amulet that she is calling “In Gratitude,” to recognize the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The necklace is something of a sister piece to the designer’s Rebirth Pin, a brooch released immediately following the hurricane. The proceeds of the pin helped fund the establishment of the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation, whose primary mission, according to Faget, is “to be a catalyst for the development and enhancement of the distinct cultural industries of Louisiana by promoting the economic health and quality of life of our cultural economy workforce.” More than 18,000 pins have since sold, totaling more than $239,000 donated. “We sold thousands and thousands of them because people were coming back to their homes and they used those pins to wear in pride of being back after leaving the city,” Faget said. “It was the most feel-good thing I’ve ever done, giving that money away.”

So much so, that she wanted to revisit the project. “It’s a Tibetan symbol of gratitude that we found and represents the hurricane very well, because it’s a wave turning on itself but not getting out,” she said of the piece. The piece is available in both pin and charm form, retailing for $125, as well as a pendant for $120. Ten percent of all sales will go to Tulane University’s Newcomb Art Museum and the Tulane/Xavier BioEnvironmental Research center.

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