The Designer

 

The blue blood & black sheep of the business is owner/designer M. Gaines -  bon vivant, eccentric, cynic, style critic, world traveler, hedonist, Southern gentleman, heavily tattooed rebel and legend in his own mind.  A blue blood by birth & black sheep by choice. 

Based in Henderson Kentucky USA. Blue Blood Black Sheep crafts each piece by hand, proudly using materials sourced in the USA.  

Why the name Blue Blood Black Sheep?

Partially from from the two types of bracelet messages, my background & my personalty.

Blue bloods tend to be prim & proper as are the pieces in the Secret Message collection, while black sheep are wild, naughty and fun like the Dirty Little Secrets collection 

Born into an old Southern family of courtly manners, charity balls & country clubs but maturing into an inked up, pierced eccentric with a twisted sense of humor and an "I don't give a shit" attitude definitely makes me both a blue blood & a black sheep.

How did you get started making jewelry?

I was a spoiled brat but liked pretty things.  At age eight, my mother, grandmothers and a great-aunt gave me masses of old costume jewelry - enormous faux pearls, Bakelite, stone beads, rhinestones, crystals, chains & even a tiara!   It was a blast dismantling & reworking mountings, resetting stones, & restringing beads for my early creations.  

Did always want to make jewelry?

I had thought about attending med school but in college, my jewelry interest was re-ignited and life became beer, bourbon & baubles. Precious gems replaced rhinestones as my palette.  A Graduate Gemologist degree and my business degrees led to a career that covered all aspects of the business & eventually a corner office with a national fine jewelry retailer. 

When did you start your own jewelry line?

While on sabbatical, traveling the world, shopping too much and creating tons of black sheep mischief in leather bars & tattoo shops, a friend asked me to teach him to solder & set rhinestones to create jewelry for drag queens. My buddy declared, “You miss this.”  He was right; I did.  So in 2000, M Gaines Jewelry was born coming full circle back to the materials and big statement pieces that inspired me as a child.  I was greatly blessed; my designs were chosen by fabulous stores & red carpet "celebutantes."

To view a few of my statement pieces, please check the M. Gaines Collection Archive.

How did you come up with the Morse code idea?

Much of the success of the M Gaines line came from traveling to NYC Fashion Week and markets.  As my mother's health declined, I chose to become her caretaker rather than hiring nurses or putting her in a nursing home.  High fashion moves fast, if you are out of sight, you are out of mind.

While partaking a bottle of Bordeaux & texting a friend, inspiration struck - texting is a type of code, so why not make Morse code jewelry!  Pieces that are not high dollar nor high fashion but have wide appeal!  Secret Message & Dirty Little Secrets lines became my Act III in the jewelry business.  Sales exploded in 2014 leading to re-branding as Blue Blood Black Sheep from  M Gaines Jewelry.

Where do you get your sense of style?

My parents were quite elegant and a huge influence.  My father always wore beautifully tailored suits, had a fast wit, very gentlemanly and never met a stranger.   My mother had exquisite taste, she was never seen unless coiffed, made-up, in heels, elegantly dressed & accessorized.  She could give Scarlet O'Hara a run for her money in style an attitude!  They were really quite a pair. 

I am just old enough to have witnessed society evolve from gentlemen & ladies hats & gloves clutching calling cards and dressing for dinner to living in jeans & boots, tossing back tequila shooters while texting to confirm a tattoo appointment. A unique time warp perspective on bygone elegance and modern edge.

Did those tattoos and piercings hurt?

Yes.

 

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