Meghan McMackin On Her New Label Vonbloom and Styling The Modern Woman
For many designers, the inspiration to create doesn’t come from a seasonal trend or glimpse into the future, but rather from the past. Such is the case for Meghan McMackin, whose new jewelry label, Vonbloom serves as an homage to her grandmother Lillian, a bold force in Meghan’s life whose style and intelligence left a lasting impression. “My grandmother had this amazing jewelry collection with pieces that were extravagant and real and over-the-top and totally costume,” McMackin says. “She was such an inspiring character in my life and sparked my interest in jewelry.” Like Lillian’s collections, Vonbloom features styles that range from understated to bold - think colorful acetate hoops, gold plated studs and chain link necklaces with removable charms. They’re fun, easy pieces that provide women with chic yet accessible styles for every moment of their lives. We sat down with Meghan to chat about inspiration, sustainability and why Vonbloom feels so right, right now.
What inspired you to launch Vonbloom?
I was working at J.Crew and one of the things I loved most about it was the conversation I felt like I was having with the customer - learning what she responded to and what she was still looking for. I left the company when I had my son, but I missed designing and I needed to create again. When I started thinking about it, I felt that modern womens’ needs were not being met in the jewelry space. I didn’t see anyone doing jewelry in a fashion forward way that was cool, reasonably priced, and still had great quality. I was so inspired and energized - I knew exactly what I wanted to build, and who I was building it for. I started designing and the further I got into it, the more I realized there was nothing in that space for women who still wanted something chic and with an emphasis on sustainability. That’s when Vonbloom was born.
Can you speak to the tenets and mission of the brand?
My husband and I are really eco-conscious, so from day one every brand building decision we made was with the lens of doing it as sustainably as possible… which isn’t an easy feat! I wanted to find factories that met our high standards for humane practices. For Spring, we’re using all ethically sourced gold, and for Summer, we’re using all recycled gold plating. For packaging, we're using linen jewelry pouches. It was important that they be a natural fiber and linen uses far less water than cotton. We don’t provide a jewelry box in our packaging. No one keeps a jewelry box, so we let that go and did a gorgeous linen pouch with a few different pockets. So if you want to take an earring off and throw it in your bag, it won’t get scratched. Or if you’re traveling, they make the perfect reusable pouches. We try to be as thoughtful as possible, especially with decisions that impact our environmental footprint. We look to make sure that everything we create has a purpose - from the price point, to the materials, to the jewelry pouch and the packaging.
Right now, wherever we can be sustainable, we will be. To be a totally sustainable brand is a deceiving concept, but there are areas where it’s possible, so that is where we do the best that we can. Our Spring and Summer collections have to come in plastic bags so they don't get damaged or lose their pair, but the bags are 100% recycled plastic, which I’ve never seen before. We have cute, cheeky messaging on the bags like, “I’m no virgin” or ”I wasn’t born yesterday.” These bags are 100% reincarnated plastic. We’re doing our best to make sure our customer is getting a product she can feel good about. It’s a nice way for all people to be more sustainable, and as a brand, we think it’s the right thing to do.
How would you describe the Vonbloom design philosophy?
It’s a real mix, which I think reflects how women want to dress these days. It’s not just big statement pieces because my feeling was that I like a big earring sometimes and sometimes I don’t. I didn’t want to design a one-note collection because no one dresses that way. I wanted to design for our girl, wherever she was going. So if she wants a tiny hoop on a weekend or on a Monday, that’s fine. If she’s on vacation, I want her to have something as well.
Can you speak to the idea of customization and personalization in the collection?
The earrings we’re doing have charms that you can link into different hoop formats. You can buy a basic hoop and you can buy charms to link up. One is a little mother of pearl flower, and then you layer them together. You can stack up the pearl and the shell and it looks beachy and elevated. We also have convertible earrings. We have a flower stud on top and the bottom bauble clips off. So they’re different pieces to mix and match. I like giving her options - at the end of the day it’s totally up to her how she wears it - and I love that. I’m doing the same thing for the chains. You can add charms to them and mix the look up a bit. I’m not really into statement necklaces but a bold chain feels great and classic, and adding a rose quartz heart pendant can soften it. The charms are a way to refresh the jewelry, so you can buy one piece and upcycle it and give new life on its own, or even layer it on top of other pieces. You don’t have to toss it. Personalization can also be really cool and elevated. So many women love playing with jewelry, and being able to easily let her design her own piece and switch out different parts is an interesting concept, not to mention a fun thing to do.
Who is the Vonbloom girl?
She’s someone who loves fashion and enjoys feeling stylish and relevant. She dresses in a way that’s feminine and easy but she doesn’t want to overthink her items. There’s a way to be on trend but effortless, and she’s totally that. So all the Vonbloom pieces are meant to be light and easy and ultimately some are very classic. There are gold hoops and some are bolder silhouettes but they have a timeless element.
Where does technology fit into your brand?
Well one thing we’re doing is augmented reality using Instagram’s face filters. My husband is a creative director and I asked him if he could make an AR virtual try-on model for me. It’s been a fun project, and he’s been able to use software with his own 3-D animation tools on Instagram. We’re launching with four filters of our most popular earrings. You can virtually try them on and click through to see other colors. It’s fun and playful and easy to engage with. It’s a way for her to experience our styles before she buys it. It’s also the future of fashion - try before you buy - from the comfort of wherever you are!
Why does Vonbloom feel relevant right now?
It’s such an interesting time in fashion. I feel like women today can own a lot of different styles - sometimes we’re lowkey and mellow and sometimes we’re bold and shameless. I love inhabiting space and making a statement. There’s something really powerful about that and effortless at the same time. There are also parts of the brand that are really soft and feminine and this allows women to be that and still feel confident. From a cost standpoint, it’s empowering to offer women wonderful, cool product that’s sustainable and at a great price that can make them feel great about their choices. We start at $35 for a little charm up to $175 for a huge earring, but the average piece is between $85 and $120.
What’s your favorite piece in the collection?
I think the Ryder - it’s a long length gold chain. I wear it everyday. I love a really well made brass chain. It has very thick gold plating and it feels feminine yet powerful. I love that I can wear it in a regular circular shape or hook it and it can hang down in a Y shape. So it has versatility as well. I’m the type of person who likes to change up my outfit midday. When I was working at J.Crew, I had all this jewelry in my desk, so I’d wear one pair to a meeting in the morning and switch them out to a different pair later in the day. I just think it’s fun. I also love the hoops - they are just easy and fun. They’re colorful and so lightweight. They’re made out of acetate, which is 75% paper and a renewable material that’s plant-based. You can laminate many colors together, so the outside is clear and the inside is a darker color. It combines to make a beautiful watercolor effect. They’re also really large but you almost forget you’re wearing them because they are so so light. For a statement piece, I love our Flora earrings. They’re clip-on so they don’t drag your ear down. I like how they’re both feminine but bold at the same time. That’s really the M.O. of Vonbloom.