Kingston, Jamaica born, Rochelle Thwaites excelled in the arts at a young age, which lead her at the age of 16 to leave Jamaica to study at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Florida where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design.

Thwaites worked in this field for several years. However, having been exposed to her family’s businesses at a very young age, she developed a desire to pursue her own business venture. This became a reality after having a vivid dream of her own accessories collection. With the passion for style and the support of her husband, she formed her company Mimeki (derives from the Jamaican dialect Mi-mek-I, which means “I made it”) in March 2004. During 2004–2007 she painstakingly ensured that she learned every aspect of the accessories industry.

The Mimeki Collection reflects class, confidence and style. Thwaites is adamant about keeping the designs streamlined with a twist of trend. As part of her signature, each style generally uses at least dual colors or materials and uses a minimal amount of hardware. Clutch caught up with the designer to find out more about her and her up and coming luxury powerhouse, Mimeki.

Q: When did you launch this beautiful line?
Mimeki was officially launched January 2007.

Q: Why did you name the line Mimeki an does it have a meaning?
Mimeki means “I made it.” Initially when Mimeki was conceptualized, the line was to be a fully custom line of handbags. With that in mind, I thought Mimeki was appropriate and I loved that it had a positive connotation as well.

Q: What’s included in your collection?
Mimeki offers a variety of sizes and styles of handbags for any occasion. There are satchels, hobos, totes, and clutches to choose from. We also launched our line of signature scarves, which is primarily trimmed with lambskin leather.

Q: Where do you get inspiration from when designing pieces for your line?
I pull my inspiration from all over. I get inspired when I see a certain texture, pattern or even color. I will see a woman who has extraordinary personal style and get inspired by her individuality. It just depends on what catches my eye at the time.

Q: What is your favorite style of bag and why?
I would have to say that depends on the day. But lately, I have been rocking my Kennedy hobo as it holds everything and is extremely comfortable.

Q: What trends do you foresee this year?
Colors, colors . . . and more colors.

Q: Your collection has become a must-have among not only fashionistas, but Hollywood celebrities. How does that make you feel?
It is extremely fulfilling and refreshing to know that there are women out there, regardless of who it is, who stepped out of their standard “brand” box and chose to include a Mimeki as one of their must-haves.

Q: Did you always want to be a designer?
Absolutely. I have been designing since I can remember.

Q: What’s currently in rotation in your iPod?
Alicia Keys, John Legend and Beres Hammond to name a few.
Q: What’s one piece of advice would you give to someone who is stuck in a fashion rut and wants to reinvent themselves in 2008?
My advice would be to go back to basics and build from there. Know your style and work around that. There are a lot of great (and not so great) trends out there that you can use to give your personal style that edge it needs for 2008.

Q: There are lots of women of color in the fashion industry, but we rarely hear about them. Why do you think that is?
That is a very good question. Women of color in the fashion industry are compelled to be more aggressive and forthcoming in their approach for recognition for several reasons. However, regardless of what the reasons are, I think it comes down to marketing and perseverance. Designers like Kimora Lee Simmons, Tracy Reese and Rachel Roy have successfully put themselves on the fashion map and made it clear that it can be done.

Q: What advice would you give other women who are interested in becoming a designer?
I would say to definitely pursue your dreams! But do your research because it is an extremely difficult and competitive industry.

Q: Who are some of your favorite designers?
Rachel Roy and Alexander McQueen are my top two at the moment.

Q: What’s in your clutch?
My essentials are M.A.C. powder and Murad lip gloss.

Q: What’s in the future for Mimeki?
Mimeki will be launching it’s Kustom line this year!

To learn more about Rochelle or Mimeki please log-on to www.mimeki.com

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