Mel and Lina I am so happy to introduce you all to the Jane Win Girl Gang. It's been so much fun to highlight female founded brands that I adore and you all know that MERSEAis top of that list!
Tell us a bit about you two and your friendship.
Melanie and I were both transplanted to the Midwest from the West Coast and found ourselves raising our kids together at the same small school. We became fast friends and realized we had so much more in common than kids. When they were older, we found ourselves dreaming of how we could work together. We launched in September of 2013 with a small lineup of candles and a travel wrap. It’s been an amazing journey and over the last nine years, we have expanded into more apparel, travel essentials, accessories, more home scents, and some really fun gifts. The extra fun part is our kids have worked and traveled with us from the beginning and our husbands occasionally tag along on photo shoots.
It's so special when the whole family get involved in the brand. And how exactly did you all become inspired to create MERSEA?
We wouldn’t necessarily say we were ‘dragged’ to the Midwest but let’s just say it was not on either of our radars (and we would not change it for the world!). Once we became friends we realized we had a similar need for that coastal feeling and in fact, longed for how we could tap into that peaceful mindset you get at the beach. MERSEA was born from that mindset of travel, both physically and mentally. This led us to uncover the creations of artisans found in corners around the world and for us connecting to people from other places and creating something with them is really one of our reasons for being.
I can feel the quality and care that were put into creating each of your products. Tell us why it is so important to you all to create each of your collections sustainably and ethically.
We take the time to get to know our family-run factories and make sure that their ethos for manufacturing matches ours. Since we both always feel the pull of the ocean and know what powerful resource water is, we’ve partnered with Water.org, co-founded by Matt Damon and Gary White and Kansas City, to raise money and awareness of how the water crisis impacts women in particular. If you give women easy access to clean water, they can focus on working, gaining independence, and providing for their families.
The way you support artisan communities across the globe is incredible. Can you tell us a little bit more about these partnerships?
We love working with artisans and small businesses. It helps the local community and keeps their traditional craftsmanship alive. We partner with the best local artisans and small businesses to create things that are entirely new and contemporary, using local materials and traditional techniques. The end result is challenging and beautiful all at once.
Travel. Is. My. Favorite. And it’s obviously very important to you all too 😉 What trips do you have coming up and what places do you have on your travel bucket list?
Lina: My daughter and son are studying in Italy right now. The rest of us are meeting them in Europe and traveling around Croatia. The Croatian coastline looks insanely beautiful, so I can’t wait to experience it and report back to everyone!
Mel: I’ll be spending 2 week traveling around France with my good friend and our daughters (who have been friends since they were 3 years old). We are actually recreating a trip we did with them when they were 5 years old - the girls remember every bit of that first trip and can’t wait. My daughter, Daisy, does a lot of content creation for MERSEA so this trip will be filled with capturing moments we can share with you. For my bucket list - more places in Morocco - the Atlas mountains, the coast, the desert…
What MERSEA favorite are you packing in your suitcase all summer long?
Lina: I've been wearing our new Captiva Terry tee a ton with white jeans. And, I NEVER go anywhere without one of our classic travel wraps.
Mel: Our navy striped Catalina Sweater is always in my bag. It's classic friend stripes and I'm a sailor at heart - a French sailor or course! It washes and wears super well so it's a great travel buddy.
You all have been wearing Jane Win since we launched in 2017, which I so appreciate. What's your go to JW coin right now?
Mel: I just got the LOVE Original Pendant in Pink Enamel inlay. The enamel is such a beautiful, pale color that goes with everything and stacks perfectly with my other gold coins. We absolutely never leave home without them and feel this is my lucky travel charm (regardless of what I am wearing).
Lina: I have a few coins, but my most recent one is the California coin, since I was born and raised in Northern California. For anyone from CA, I grew up mostly in the East Bay, Walnut Creek specifically.
Entrepreneurship is a grind. What advice do you have for women who want to start a business?
Build a great team and give them freedom. Make great partnerships and use them to grow. Learn to laugh at your mistakes (there have been so many we’ve stopped counting). And most of all, remember that, as cliche, as it might sound, hard work does pay off. Make the grind fun! Starting a business from scratch is harder than we could have expected—but when we look back and see what we’ve built and the people we’ve met—it’s all worth it.
A few fun quickfire questions…
Thank you thank you to Mel and Lina for joining us in the Girl Gang and for their fabulous offer of 20% off to all of us in the Girl Gang! Don't forget to redeem your offer here.