It isn’t every day that you get a phone call from a unicorn. But Amina Mucciolo, the founder, chief crafter/creator, and self-proclaimed unicorn behind Studio Mucci recently chatted us up, and we had lots to talk about!
The tassel fairy told us all about how she got her wings, where she finds inspiration, and how someday we, too, can all become unicorns.
Miss Amina also recently partnered with us for the sweetest, most summer-centric lookbook ever, featuring pretty-in-pastel pieces from ModCloth (shop the collection here) along with her latest line of luxury handmade paper decor items.
Here’s the scoop:
Every superhero has an origin story. What’s yours?
We’re going into almost our fifth year, but it actually makes perfect sense when you think about how everything got started. When I initially had this idea [for Studio Mucci], I wasn’t really in the right mind state or place. I was pretty sick and I was suffering from an eating disorder [Mucciolo struggled with bulimia for 16 years]. And at the time, I thought that what I really wanted my career and what I do with my life to be about was creating things and making things. I started experimenting with paper and making little paper jewelry and beads. Paper’s always been my medium, I guess, but paper jewelry is pretty much where Studio Mucci started.
[Mucciolo started by putting a few of these jewelry pieces on Etsy on a whim. Around this time, her husband and brother helped her get into treatment for her eating disorder.]
While [in treatment], I had the space to step away from my normal life, and I was able to focus on what I really wanted to do and what I wanted my life to be like. That’s the place where I decided, “I’m here. I almost didn’t make it alive,” and I decided that I wanted my life to be about creating things and making something positive. Something that will make other people happy and make me happy.
[Once she completed treatment, she and her husband temporarily moved from Los Angeles to a small town in Oklahoma while he pursued a PhD.]
At that time, I wasn’t in my own surroundings, so it allowed me to really focus on just creating without any type of expectation or purpose really, except to just do whatever I wanted to do. Eventually, I stumbled into using leftover paper and tissue paper for making stuff for our home. I’d post a picture on Facebook and people started commenting, “Whoa, where’d you buy that stuff?” And I’d say, “I made it!” So, I posted a tassel garland that I made on my Etsy shop (and it was really bad), but people really responded to it! And that’s how I got my first order…and it’s been a whirlwind ever since!
So much of what you create is based around the act of celebrating. What you made you want focus on that?
I’d have different mobiles and poms [around my home] — just cool little things that when you hang them up, they’re colorful and light, they make you happy to look at, and they just remind you of a party. I think I just really focused how they made me feel, because that’s pretty much what Studio Mucci was about in the beginning. And when I opened it up to the world, it kind of happened organically. The reactions and things that people would say would be, “These colors you put together make me so happy,” or, “This is so fun!”
My first order was for a wedding, and I was so honored that someone wanted something that I actually made with my hands to have at one of the most important events of their lives. Having that be my first order [along with] all of those other things coming together really pushed me into wanting to make it be about celebrating life — big events, small events, and just life in general.
How is your personal style similar or different from the Studio Mucci aesthetic?
Studio Mucci reflects a large part of me, but not all of me. My personal style is very pastel, colorful and energetic, but it’s also a little more edgy and risky. I get asked if I ever wear black a lot, and I actually do — it just never feels like it because my hair is so pink and there’s so much of it that it kind of becomes its own accessory! My personal style is pretty versatile; it just depends on my mood that day. Sometimes I’ll feel like I really need to be a badass that day — and you can be a badass wearing pink, but it just needs to be a little edgier.
We gotta ask — what’s the secret behind that color-iffic hair?
It’s yarn! That is the number one question I get asked. I do it all myself, like a crazy person. It takes hours. When I want to change the color altogether, I have to take all the braids out, treat it, condition it. It’s such a long process that I just lock myself up for a weekend with lots of snacks and TV, and then I zombie out for two days and come out with a different color hair.
That sounds like major dedication!
My hair is probably my favorite thing and the best thing I’ve done for my business, because people recognize me instantly. And it lasts for a really long time if you take good care of it.
Where else do you draw inspiration from?
I’ve been into fashion for a long time, so I’ve always paid attention to different collections. Spring and Resort Wear are my favorites because of all the pastel, and everything is just really light. The fabrics and textures that are used kind of remind me of tissue paper! Early on, I would take inspiration from that.
Children’s art and children’s fashion, too — really anything with kids — because kids’ stuff is just better! Everything they make for children is full of imagination, and it’s fun to me. I always find myself shopping at Pottery Barn Kids to find things and colors I like. I think that adults forget to lighten up and use their imaginations. But I know plenty of people who just want to have fun, and they want that infused into their everyday.
Walk us through an average day at Studio Mucci HQ.
We have anywhere from five to nine people (not including my husband and I) working in our home studio, so it can get pretty crazy in here! We work really hard, but it’s a fun environment. It’s just a lot of girly, colorful energy always. An average day is like…a lot of things get made. A lot of music. We sometimes make a big mess and then we just throw confetti (because there’s already a big mess anyway)!
What’s something you learned about yourself since starting Studio Mucci?
I’ve learned what my weaknesses are and how to turn them into strengths. I’m a perfectionist, and I used to think that was a strength, but sometimes it can be a weakness because it’s very difficult to accomplish things when you’re focused on making everything perfect. I’m fortunate to have a lot of people around me — my team is young and creative, and some have that trait too, but they’ve also taught me how to just let go and know when things are good enough and just move on.
I’ve also learned that I’m really, really bossy! I didn’t really know that about myself until I started working with a lot of other people, but I’ve learned how to be more tolerant.
So, what does it mean to be a unicorn (and please, PLEASE tell us how we can become one, too!)?
I was really into unicorns when I was little and into this idea that it was okay to like something so whimsical and magical. Now as an adult, they say that unicorns aren’t real, so I like the idea of defining myself as something that doesn’t really exist out there. It’s about being unique. It’s about creating yourself, defining yourself, however you want to describe it. I think that everyone can be a unicorn if they wanted.
Any advice for other aspiring unicorns and tassel fairies?
The best way to go about creating something for yourself (whether it’s a business or a career path) is just to be honest with yourself about what you want. Whatever you’re pursuing in your life, it has to be something that you want and really love, because it’s really difficult! Whatever work you think you’ll have to do, it’s going to be 10 times harder than that. You need to love what you’re doing, and it needs to come from who you really are.