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Behind the Brand: Artisans in New York City

Behind the Brand: Artisans in New York City

When I think of New York City, I think of a city bursting with artists/artisans sharing their talent with the world. Here are some notable ones I have met in recent years

July 14th, 2023

When I think of New York City, I think of a city bursting with artists/artisans sharing their talent with the world. Here are some notable ones I have met in recent years…


After bonding as college students, Alessandra Perez-Rubio and Louisa Rechter founded MESTIZA in 2015. Their common ties to the Philippines and strong fashionable foremothers as inspirations, helped inform the brand’s DNA. MESTIZA NEW YORK creates iconic designs for iconic people – timeless, polished and dazzling as the women who wear them.

MESTIZA NEW YORK has a dual mission: to empower women through their Tastemaker Series, featuring inspiring women in their community, and to reduce waste through their Heirloom Project, providing excess inventory as gifts to women entering the next phase of their careers.

Min & Mon

In March, I had the pleasure of meeting one of the cofounders of Min & Mon, Catherine McKenzie. I escaped from the cold crisp New York weather into the Soho Flagship. I was greeted not only by the bright eye-popping palate Min & Mon Handbag and Accessories but also Catherine’s warm smile. The Columbian born, New York designer’s brand embodies the company’s mantra, “In the Sea of Life, Be an Octopus” to the fullest. The company invests in a fair-trade Columbian workforce, partners with social justice organizations like the Advancement Project, Be the Bridge and Colombia’s Wayuu indigenous community through Human Rights Watch and is working on making their products more sustainable. It’s hard not to love a brand so devoted to their loyal customers and growing community.

Fortune & Frame

Gretel Going is the founder of Fortune & Frame, a jewelry brand whose signature pieces hold personalized messages and love notes-to-self. The brand now includes a variety of accessories and keepsakes. Born out of the necessity of keeping an insightful fortune paper, her solution became the brand’s now-iconic fortune cookie locket. It’s such a unique way to hold meaningful messages; my fortune cookie locket has the message “Everything always works itself out.”

It’s no mistake that Gretel’s Fortune & Frame pieces have been worn by celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg, Kate Hudson, and Jennifer Hudson. Global stockists include retailers like Anthropologie, Harvey Nichols Hong Kong and Le Maison Simons.


DAFNE Italy is, Creative director, Valentina Dafne Perissi's first solo venture. With a base in fashion (working for Roberto Cavalli for a decade) and living in Florence, Valentina took her knowledge across the pond to New York City (by way of Milan and Tokyo) to start the brand. It was a huge step to move, from visiting New York with her fashion photographer dad at 11 years old. As told to New York writer, Wendy Sy, “Dafne is my middle name. My parents were supposed to call me Dafne but in the ‘80s it was a bit too different, so they named me Valentina.” Spot the eye in the “A” in the brand’s logo? This can be found in many of Valentina’s designs which speaks to her own pursuit of finding meaning in life.

Creating “art that you can wear,” her customized hand-painted apparel and accessories are infused with that vibrant New York energy. I love the elevated Majestic Blazer complete with feathers and hand embroidery. A statement piece to say the least.

Elena Murzello

Elena Murzello

The daughter of a Filipino-Chinese mother and an Italian-East Indian father, she comes by her exotic global influences naturally. After pursuing degrees at the University of Victoria (Nursing), and the University of British Columbia where she got her MBA, she packed her passport and headed out to the airport. Stops in Buenos Aires, London, Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Dubai and Tokyo gave this world traveler a true appreciation of the international lifestyle. Elena authored the book The Love List: A Guide To Getting Who You Want, which was published in 2013. Elena has appeared on the Tamron Hall Show, NBC News BETTER, The Today Show (Australia) and Good Morning Washington. She has also published countless pieces for both online and print: Thrive Global, Huffington Post Canada, Cosmopolitan UK, BELLA and RESIDENT Magazine. And now, House of Coco. Besides being a published author, the multi-talented Murzello also secured a reoccurring acting role on the Showtime series The L Word, (available on Netflix) and has appeared in television commercials for international brands such as AT&T.

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