Michael Saiger of Miansai on Building a Brand
Michael Saiger of Miansai was in college when he first started making his own jewelry. He started mainly because of own necessity for men’s jewelry that not only fit his style but met his quality expectations. What started as a hobby transformed into a quite successful business that ended up filling a void in the market of men’s accessories. Miansai has become a lifestyle brand that is known for their fish hook bracelets but also offer a variety of watches, bracelets, rings, bags and other accessories for both men and women.
Saiger shared with us more that just how Miansai started, he provided insights on how his business went from being a one-man operation into the company it is today. He also sheds some light on being a young entrepreneur; providing some valuable advice for others looking to make a similar move in fashion.
"Don’t let anyone cast doubt on you, believe in yourself and be prepared to work really hard."
MFP: Who is the Miansai guy?
Saiger: The Miansai guy is casual, effortlessly cool and has an eye for design.
MFP: You started making jewelry in college, and you kind of stumbled upon it, when did you know that it was going to become your career?
Saiger: I made my first pieces of jewelry while I was studying at the University of Miami. From there my friends kept asking me to make things for them and I started putting them in small specialty retailers, like BASE in Miami.
Everything happened organically, and looking back it seems like things just fell into place over time. There wasn't really a big moment where I was like “OK, this is going to be my career”. As Miansai grew, I always knew it was important to keep some of the key people with me who had already been working next to me from the beginning. Whenever I do something, I jump in head first and put all my effort into it.
MFP: Miansai has grown substantially from it’s early days. How connected are you to the designs, marketing, and the overall operations of your company? How do you keep a personal touch as the brand continues to grow?
Saiger: I’m heavily involved in all aspects of the business and on any given day you can find me designing, leading sales meetings, checking production/quality control or anything else. Our company has grown a lot, but we’re still relatively small in terms of our office; I don't like the idea of not knowing what's going on in each department. We pay close attention to our brand image, and I’m very detail oriented in the way that I like everything to be portrayed and match the Miansai aesthetic.
MFP: It seems that Miansai resonates well with many, especially those guys who might not be into jewelry, why do you think this is true and what Miansai essentials can you recommend to such a guy?
Saiger: 10 years ago the men's accessories market as a whole was completely missing masculine, wearable, well made pieces. I initially decided to start designing men’s because I kept searching for the perfect piece of jewelry for myself.
I’ve always liked the idea of making product for the guy who doesn't like to wear jewelry. I like my accessories to be the kind of thing you don’t want to take off: they should be easy to wear and become part of your everyday style.
I would recommend one of our Ipsum bracelets for the guy who might not be into jewelry. I love that these pieces are made from maritime grade rope, durability is important to me. I would also suggest a Turner Rope Bracelet. This is a new piece for us, which is my take on a simple beaded bracelet, that I’m really into.
MFP: In the early days of Miansai, you stated that one of the reasons for creating this brand was due to the void in men’s jewelry industry. What do you think about the landscape of men’s jewelry now?
Saiger: A lot has changed in 10 years to say the least, now there is a lot more available than there was when I first started designing. With that said, there's still a lack of originality, high quality, well crafted men’s jewelry brands. When I look around and see what other brands are producing it motivates me to continue putting so much time and energy into uniqueness and quality because ultimately the customer can see this and that's what keeps them coming back to Miansai.
MFP: You started Miansai about 10 years ago, it now has storefronts, in addition to being sold online and at some major retailers, what are some of the key factors that has helped with the success? The designs? marketing? market void? or is it a mixture of all?
Saiger: We established ourselves by filling a spot in the market that was empty for men at the time. We grew a successful business through being pioneers in the industry because we are an all-encompassing brand and always creating conversation pieces that are timeless.
MFP: You recently got married, how crucial has your wife been to the development of Miansai? and why do you think it works between the two of you?
Saiger: Rachael is the Fashion Director at Miansai, she’s an integral part of the company and I like her vision and input. My wife is extremely similar to me, but has a lot of strengths that wouldn’t typically be mine. She focuses a lot of her attention to the development of the women’s collection, campaign productions and styling, and oversees the marketing initiatives and PR. We love working together and it seems to be natural for us. I don’t think working so close to your spouse is great for everyone but it works for us and we wouldn't have it any other way.
MFP: Being a young business owner, has there been any setbacks or hurdles that you had to jump over due to being young and having such a large successful business?
Saiger: Being young, I always believed in what I was creating and had a strong vision. Retail is changing and now we’re all having to adjust and evolve to the way people are moving away from wholesale and selling direct to consumer. We’ve really found an innovative way of doing this with our fleet of vintage mobile retail vehicles.
MFP: What advice can you give to other young entrepreneurs who might be starting their company and see you as an example of ‘goals’ as some would word it?
Saiger: No matter what it’s so important to be passionate about your product and have a real vision that you stick to no matter what. It doesn't matter if trends are pointing one way; stick to your vision. Don’t let anyone cast doubt on you, believe in yourself and be prepared to work really hard.
By staying true to his vision and being involved in all aspects of his business, Michael Saiger has been able to take his brand from its humble beginnings to selling in high-end. He emulates success and serves as proof that anyone can reach successful results from a simple idea.
This interview is also included in our latest "The Young Issue" magazine. You can get you own copy here.
Photography by Adrian Martin