Most young girls who arrive to Miami in hopes of being the next Gisele Bündchen or Naomi Campbell usually end up partying too hard and burning out before the age of 20. Just go to any South Beach nightclub or restaurant to see the former Miami models at work. They're not so young and fresh anymore.
But there are always a few who can see beyond the industry and try to make most of the opportunity given. Anna Mixon, 21, is one of those few. The girl from Lafayette, Louisiana, came to the Magic City three years ago looking for modeling work, and when her paycheck was going toward paying rent and utilities, and leaving little for fashion and accessories, she decide to start making her own jewelry. What started as a way to save a quick buck has turn into Mixon by Anna Mixon, a jewelry line.
Now that Hayley Williams of Paramore decided to wear one of her pieces to this past Sunday's VMAs, it's possible she can leave the modeling world for good and take a serious stab at building a business.
New Times: Congrats on the exposure you got during the VMAs. How did you manage to have Hayley Williams wear your jewelry?
Anna Mixon: My friend, Jenna, her boyfriend is the guitar tech for Paramore, and I had gone to a bunch of their shows and met them before. Recently, they had a show in Miami and I was like, "You know what? Let me just give her a hand piece." I'd figure she'd like it and get a shot of her wearing it, and that would be pretty cool. As soon as she got it, she was like "Oh my God! I'm wearing this to the VMAs. This is exactly what I've been looking for and couldn't find it anywhere."
That's pretty lucky.
It really was. I'm fortunate to have met her. And it was a great shot [at the VMAs] that they had of it too. I didn't think it would get that much airtime.
Is this the first celebrity you've had wearing your jewelry?
Yes. But Lindsay Lohan had asked someone wearing a piece of mine if she could have it, and they told her no. So she requested a special order for a piece, but she wanted it for free, and I said no. I didn't want it worn going into rehab, I wanted it to be worn on the red carpet.While you are a model now, it seems like you are making a smart decision to make the leap from model to designer. Did you always plan for this?
I figured out that while I was model I was meeting all these people and making these incredible connections, why wouldn't I take advantage of that? To be able to come out with a product and have them help me. My look book video was directed by Jerome Duran. His company does Victoria's Secret, Maybelline, and a lot of other big campaigns. He told me, "You make jewelry, cool. You should sell it. You have all the connections you need." So I'm taking all these connections I have and using the modeling industry to take me over to the real fashion industry. Not having people put clothes on me, but actually putting things on a model.
How long have you've been making jewelry?
Three years ago, when I moved to Miami. Money was really tight -- you have your rent and your bills, and your income isn't the best because modeling doesn't pay much especially starting off. I couldn't live the life I used to live and buy everything I wanted. But I knew exactly what wanted and the shape of it, and I thought, "Why not make it myself?" I taught myself how to use pliers. I remember when I first went to Michael's, something just clicked. I couldn't stop making jewelry, and people would ask me where I would get the pieces and I'd tell them I made it. I realized I needed to start marketing and selling this. I love what I do. It is so much fun coming up with ideas.
Growing up, did you have any artist influences?
I feel like I've always been the kind of person that will wear something outrageous. I've always been forward on what's cool and new, but as far as making things on my own I really didn't learn that until I was on my own and away from my family. My mother, she's very craft, loves to make things and bake. So I always watched her but never participated, so I think that part of her in me came out while I was [in Miami].
Where are you finding materials to work with? Are you still going to Michael's?
I still hit up Michael's every now and then, but I also have different websites that I used -- some American, some from Asia, and some from India, all different places. I don't just want to pick one company because I don't want my collection to all look the same.
What prices do your pieces retail at?
Start about $180 and go high as $3,000 for the detailed vests. I log the hours they take to make, so I take that into consideration when I'm pricing.
Do you make each piece or does anyone else help you?
I've handmade every single piece.
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With the exposure you've gotten with Hayley Williams wear your jewelry at the VMAs, what are you doing to take advantage of that?
I just finished my look book and almost finished with my launch. I'm going to meet with manufacturers, because I've talked to a few different stores and they are going to want large orders that I can't personally sit down and make. Once that is squared away, I hope to get it in stores in here, New York, and Los Angeles.
For more information or to order custom pieces, visit the Mixon by Anna Mixon site at annamixon.com.