Interview: Mazel Higa Of MAYZANI JewelryCulture, Fashion, Featured — By JGM Staff on September 24, 2010 at 2:00 am
Early in its inception, jewelry was associated with religious rites. Gold and jewels were used as gifts for the practices of worship. Today it is viewed in many ways, it is seen as a symbol of high status or luxury. To many women, jewelry plays a key role in their fashion choices; it increases confidence while enhancing style. It took a woman to remind us of the significance of these symbols. She goes by the name of Mazel Higa, founder of Mayzani Jewelry, a brand whose accessories will give spunk to any woman’s wardrobe. Mazel has always had the desire design since she was young. She made a huge transition in her life, moving from her birthplace, a small island south of Tokyo called Belau (Republic of Palau), to the U.S. as a teen to pursue her dreams in the fashion industry.
JGM: How long have you been designing jewelry?
MAZEL: As a child I was always creating things. I was the kid who “made” toys. I remember at the age of 10, we got dial-up internet, and I sat on the computer for hours and looked at Jewelry Materials websites. One day with my mom’s credit card, I ordered $40 worth of beads, tools and findings. Thanks Mom! I remember the first thing I beaded was my Japanese name, “Kazuko” and a flower onto this blue top I had. I wish I would have kept that! So I could certainly say I have been making “jewelry” type of things since I was a kid, but I didn’t realize I could actually turn this into something more than just “a fun thing” until about 2 years ago. Matter of fact, I still have some of those things I ordered 12 years ago!
JGM: Can your break down the creative process behind making your collection?
MAZEL: am a non-planner. Everyone who knows me knows that. I wish I could tell you that I sit for hours and brainstorm and sketch, but that’s a lie. My process has always been a “see what happens”, “go with the flow” type of thing. With a general idea, I lay all my materials out and the pieces come from layering, and piecing together, and editing and listening to good music and drinking coffee! Good Music and Coffee… THAT IS KEY!
JGM: Do you remember the first piece of jewelry you designed, how have you progressed since then?
MAZEL: I’ve always loved fabric, so about 5 years ago, even before the large earrings to cover my wisdom’s, I made a pair of earrings with white lace I had lying around, and beaded them with pink and green beads. I made these for fun and gave them to a friend. They were dainty and unfinished – I didn’t hide all the dirty work (threads behind beading, etc.). These days, a piece won’t leave my desk until it’s completely finished.
JGM: When did you put out your first collection, how did you go about doing it?
MAZEL: The first ACTUAL collection I created was called “HERstory” and it consisted mostly of bib necklaces with pictures of women that have paved way for us, such as Harriet Tubman, Susan B Anthony, Mother Teresa, etc. I really am inspired by how hard they have worked so that we as women have the opportunity to go the direction we please. I decided to pay tribute to them by including them in what I felt was a cluster of beautiful things. I literally sort of just made the pieces for a photo-shoot a friend of mine was doing, and realized that all the pieces were cohesive enough to be called “a collection”. This goes back to the whole, not being a planner thing.
Photo from the “HERstory” Collection ^
JGM: What new projects are you currently working on?
MAZEL: I am currently doing a lil’ somethin’ somethin’ with Hok from American’s Best Dance Crew Season 3 Winners, Quest Crew. He is such a phenomenal artist, so we brainstormed a bit and came up with something exciting! I also have a cousin from back home in Belau who makes absolutely beautiful jewelry using raw and organic materials that I want to do a collaboration with.
JGM: On your blog you have plenty of things that you design besides jewelry. Do you plan on releasing anything other than jewelry?
MAZEL: My dream is to go into the world of accessories full force. Right now I am focusing on jewelry, but I definitely want to go deeper into the accessories world with handbags, shoes, sunglasses, watches, etc. I see the future holding lots of great things and I am excited to see where it goes!
JGM: So what are some of your inspirations when it comes to designing?
MAZEL: I am such a lover of culture. If I wasn’t doing this, I think I would have gone to college for World Cultural Studies or something. Does that even exist as a major? I LOVE learning about different cultures, so I definitely try to integrate elements of the world into each piece. There is also always a piece of my culture in my pieces somehow, even if it’s only noticed by me, it’s there! All the pieces in my Summer Collection are named after a cousin, niece or someone in my family, so I apologize if it is not easy to pronounce the names! This is something that I will continue to do!
JGM: Who are some of your influences when it comes to designing?
MAZEL: I am a terrible researcher half the time so I don’t follow many designers closely, but I have to say I LOVE that to this day, women around the world COLLECT Chanel Jewelry pieces from way back when. That just shows the magnitude of influence Ms. Coco has had on women from decade to decade.
JGM: How does it feel to be recognized for your work?
MAZEL: It’s definitely surreal and almost uncomfortable. I can be loud and all over the place, but I can also be really shy, and when it comes to recognition, eyes on me, I shut down a little. But inside, it’s a pretty damn cool thing!
JGM: What might encourage you to create new pieces?
MAZEL: Stamina! I gotta keep people’s interest, so I have to keep going! My biggest fear is that my work will be a bore! When Erykah Badu said, “Keep in mind I’m an artist, so I’m sensitive about my sh*t.” She wasn’t lying!!
JGM: Have you ever styled anyone famous in your jewelry or is there anyone that you would like to style?
MAZEL: A couple people out there have worn my pieces that I thought was cool, but my dream would be Beyonce. Haha! I LOVEEEEEE her!!! Have you ever seen her in concert? If not, YOU MUST!! It will be the best show of your life ever!!
JGM: How important is jewelry accessories to a persons wardrobe or outfit?
MAZEL: VERY IMPORTANT! Jewelry gives pieces of your wardrobe longevity. If you mix and match the same shirt with different jewelry pieces, it’s like having a new shirt every time! Use accessories to add spunk to your wardrobe, whether it be layers of chains, or a pair of great earrings, jewelry has a way of telling a story without trying very hard!
JGM: What gives you the drive to perfect your craft?
MAZEL: I come from a small island, and whenever I get recognition from someone back home that I have never met in my life, it makes me even more excited to do this. The drive comes from seeing how my life has changed from growing up in a small island to living in a big city. It’s like, my parents didn’t move us across the world just so we can stare at the difference, I gotta be a part of that difference!!!