The blue blood & black sheep of the business is owner/designer M. Gaines - eccentric hedonist, world traveler, Southern gentleman, tattooed rebel and legend in his own mind. A blue blood by birth & black sheep by choice.
Why the name Blue Blood Black Sheep?
Partially from from my personality as well as the two the two types of bracelet messages.
Like the old Hollywood & literary trope of the "hooker with the heart of gold" I am a huge dichotomy! A Southern gentleman "of a certain age" with all the gracious manners & hospitality that accompanies being born into an old Southern family. Country clubs, cotillions and a pedigree that predates the Norman conquest defined my early years but there was always a "dark side" lurking that I indulged more & more the older I became (much to my mother's chagrin!) Blue blazers, alligator loafers & a signet ring gave way to black leather, tattoos and a nose ring.
In addition to my sartorial change, my "internal filter" has disintegrated. That coupled with a wicked sense of humor (inherited from my father), and a huge disdain for political correctness, poor manners & hypocrisy; well, you never know what will come out of my mouth. In short, I will "bless your heart", call you on your shit then fix you some sweet tea & snack...yes, that snack will be served on china and you will use a cloth napkin!
How did you get started making jewelry?
As a child, I was a well mannered yet spoiled brat with an eye for 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 considered attending med school (I would be a horrible doctor, btw) but my wise father talked me into business school. While in college my jewelry interest was re-ignited by a summer position with a fine jeweler 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."
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 a nursing home. High fashion moves fast, if you are out of sight, you are definitely 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! Though a black sheep I am still a Southerner so tradition, manners, a love of "old things" and the ability to "polite someone to death" (meaning you make a fool of them, they do not realize it & even thank you for it) is deeply ingrained in me, Morse code fits all those criteria with the ability to say "fuck you" in a subtle, elegant & socially acceptable way!
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 and 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?
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