All About Melanie

Published : 15/05/2023 10:31:14
Categories : Latest News

All About Melanie

Today we have a chat with Melanie Clarihew behind Mackenzie & George, a stunning brand (and stand!) that's seen online and at many shows up and down the country each year. 

Here Melanie talks about Mackenzie & George's beginnings, her aspirations and flagship products. Read on to find out more...

Melanie, tell us a bit about yourself, what do you do, where are you from, your business, where we can find you online and what makes you tick?    
Hi, I’m one half of Mackenzie & George, which I run with my husband Chris in (sometimes) sunny Whitchurch. I’ve lived in Hertfordshire, London and Brighton before settling on the Shropshire/Cheshire/Wales border, and certainly couldn’t imagine moving back to a city (although I do miss Uber!)

I tend to be in charge of the marketing and Chris and I design mostly together, with the usual amount of toing and froing you’d expect from a married couple working so closely! 
What inspired you to set up Mackenzie & George ?

I’ve always had a bit of a thing about accessories. I love how such a small item can completely change multiple outfits, but have never been one for in your face branding. Chris’ father had been making belts since the1970s,but was winding down his business, and we became really interested in finding the best possible materials to create accessories that last the test of time, and sustainable too.  11 years ago we set up M&G, and still those two points remain our core values - Built to Last from the best materials.

What do you do in your spare time & what do you get up to offline?
We have two young girls, so a lot of my spare time is spent between school, dance and horse riding lessons, and we love to travel and explore new places and countries when we are able too. We’re real foodies, love finding new weird and wonderful recipes and trying to perfect them! And I’m a bit of a hobby-a-holic. Currently I have a mini pottery kit and a tiny paper “book nook” craft kit I’m starting - a whole little world to sit on my (very full) bookshelf! 
What is your ultimate Hiho love (favourite piece from the Hiho collection) and why?

I think the piece I wear the most is the triple bangles. Each one is unique, it's just the right weight and I love the way they jangle! Especially if stacked with more Hiho. 

I’m also a big fan of the multi link collection and of course the two tone bees!

If someone hasn’t shopped with you before, what would you suggest as a good starter piece for them, to start their M&G collection?

Our Wycombe and Badminton belts have been best sellers since we started, so I don’t think you can go wrong with those! Beautiful vegetable tanned leathers that age wonderfully and work with everything.  

I’d also recommend the Chatsworth - comes in leather and suede versions and just always looks so classy with its subtle nod to equestrian heritage. We have some new colour in this being launched at Badminton Horse Trials too. And finally our personalised M&G keyring… every set of keys needs one of these!

Would you have any style tips for how to wear one of your gorgeous silk scarves? 

Ah we love working with Clare and her beautiful scarves, but it can sometimes be really daunting to work out how to wear them. Our scarf ring is super simple, and really effective either worn vertically with the scarf thread though, or horizontally with it tied through each ring. Also stops the scarf slipping and keeps it in place on a windy day!

And finally – what would be your one piece of advice for anyone looking to start a new business?

Oh my, I’ve got lots to say on that! I guess one of the most initial things is knowing your market, and your USP. How many people are already doing what you do, in the same market?  When we started there was hardly anyone specialising in leather goods to this market, especially positioning themselves in the space we did, and there was no one selling fedoras and feather brooches. It made it easier to stand out, and create a sustainable business model, because then you're a few steps ahead of whoever comes along after. If it's already crowded before you arrive, why are people going to choose, and continue to choose you?

You can find MacKenzie & George on Instagram at @mackenzieandgeorge

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