Even if you’re not familiar with Miansai, you’ve probably seen one of the brand’s jewelry designs on the arm of your most fashionable friend without even realizing it. The Miami-based lifestyle accessories brand built a cult following with its timeless, unisex jewelry made with pure precious metals, Italian leathers and marine grade ropes but has since expanded into bags, leather and home goods, and candles (there’s even a bike coming down the line…more on that later). After the brand’s success of its first retail space in New York’s Soho, Founder and Creative Director Michael Andrew Saiger decided to open a second retail collection across the country in Venice Beach, California, on ultra-hip Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
With the help of Peter Buley from Brooklyn design studio Analog Modern, Michael created a space that reflects the aesthetic of the brand: minimalist, laid-back, refined. The space was originally long and narrow but is now split into three different sections using black steel beams that frame the areas and set the flow of the store. White brick walls, white floors and Italian porcelain tiles give the space a sense of airiness while rich walnut wood grounds it, both inside and out. Jo Hammerborg pendants, a Brendan Ravenhill Studio chandelier, Kreon fixtures and Horne Zig Zag lamps accent the store’s flood of natural light beaming through the front windows.
Read on as we chat with Michael Andrew Saiger about where the name Miansai comes from (maybe you can already guess it?) and the exciting collaborations he has coming down the line.
Why did you pick this city/neighborhood/storefront?
Los Angeles is a city I’ve always loved to visit. Being an active person, the healthy LA lifestyle was a natural fit for our second flagship retail location. I love being on the water and the beach culture, so it made sense for us.
Where did you get the name for the store?
Miansai comes from my name, Michael Andrew Saiger.
Has it changed much since it opened? How?
The store originally opened in 2016, but we didn’t get the license for our tea bar until about six months after. We now serve teas, kombucha, and fresh pressed juice at the store as well. We have a beautiful outdoor space where people can come and shop, have a tea, and even work from.
What’s one of the challenges you have with the business?
One of the challenges we’ve faced is making sure our brand culture and identity is carried through in every market we expand to. I’m really particular about the aesthetic and details of everything we do, so am always checking how everything is being presented everywhere.
What other stores have you worked in before opening this one?
Before having our own flagship stores, we had our vintage airstream retail unit, and were carried in all of the top stores like Barney’s, Collette, Lane Harvey Nichols, and Selfridges; some of which we had a ‘shop-in-shop,’ and New York was our first brick and mortar store then Los Angeles came next.
What’s your favorite item in the store right now?
My daily go-to is the all leather rucksack bag. I’m always running around and it fits everything.
What is this season’s theme/inspiration/story?
The SS18 Miansai Collection pays an unmistakable homage to Art Deco architecture from my recent travels to the Viñales region of Cuba. We’ve carefully curated a selection of men and women’s accessories which marry the traditional art deco architecture and the rich history of Cuba.
Are you carrying any new products and/or undiscovered gems you’re particularly excited about?
We just launched the Palm Necklace, which is inspired by a vintage Cohiba cigar design.
What’s been a consistent best seller?
Our Screw Cuff has become an iconic wardrobe staple and the Dove & Saints Necklaces have consistently been best sellers for us.
Does the store have its own line?
We have pieces that are exclusively sold at our own retail locations, which includes our flagships, mobile retail and website. The Artisan Choker for women and the Casing Cuff for men have been really popular pieces that aren’t found anywhere else.
Any special events/exhibits/pop ups/collaborations coming up?
We have an upcoming collaboration with tokyobike, which we are really excited about. We created a custom Miansai bike, which is a classic navy, has copper hardware and incorporates our nautical rope.
Do you have anything from the store in your own home?
My Fiancé Rachael and I are always testing products, so we have pretty much everything in the collection at our house. We also always have one of our candles burning in every room; my personal favorite is the Atacama.
What’s next for you and your store?
We just opened a second location in Los Angeles within the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. One of our vintage Piaggio’s will be stationed there for the remainder of the year. Our mobile retail expansion is really exciting for us because we are able to test out markets we want to be in, without the investment of a brick and mortar location. If we go into a market and realize that it is not our target customer, then we have the flexibility to pick up and leave.
What’s one lesson you’ve learned since opening your store?
Navigating the ins and outs in a new city, and the way things work with the city logistically is always a learning experience. The way the customers shop in each city is so different; the New York customer is different from the LA customer, so making sure the assortment is curated and relatable for that consumer is something has to be targeted and specific.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to follow a similar path to yours, what would it be?
Make sure you set goals, have a great team, and be prepared to work really hard.
To visit Miansai’s Venice location, head over to 1116 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291.