As part of AIGA's Small Talks series, Mimi Jung, the multitasker behind Brook & Lyn took the stage last night for an intimate discussion about her career trajectory, specifically her transition from graphic design to style blogging, and eventually jewelry design.
"I don't want to ruin anyone's fantasies, but fashion bloggers don't just dress up in stylish clothes and go to parties and events every day. It actually takes a lot to make it work and be good at it," she said, referencing fellow bloggers like Bryan Boy (who recently boasted his $100,000-plus annual income), and Susie Lau of Style Bubble. While that's perhaps the case for those that have indeed broken through as internet success stories, the statement couldn't couldn't be more true for Jung.
Starting with a brief discussion of her youth Jung recounted how she independently enrolled herself in high school at the age of 13. Shortly thereafter, she set her sights on attending the tuition-free—and extremely exclusive—Cooper Union, here in New York—a feat she eventually accomplished by first applying to the prestigious art school's pre-college program, traveling three hours back and forth between the city and Binghampton on a bus several days a week. Following her tenure at Cooper Union, where she focused primarily on personal art projects and installation work, Jung received a scholarship to study graphic design in Basel, Switzerland, a stint that eventually led to a job at AtelierFrankfurt in Germany. From there she returned to the states to work for design firms Pure+Applied and Art + Commerce, where she designed books, and graphic exhibitions, before eventually taking some time off.
In 2008, during her break from graphic design, Jung started Brook & Lyn, first as a regular online diary to document her daily style and archive bookmarks, before it quickly gained an audience and morphed into the more structured fashion and style blog that's online today. Jung was candid about the havoc it wreaked on her home and husband as she transformed their apartment into a photo studio and eventually a showroom too, first for a burgeoning vintage jewelry collection that she launched an online boutique for, followed this year by her own line of original jewelry.
While starting her jewelry line was definitely new territory for the Brooklyn local, it was no different from the kinds of challenges she'd faced before. "I had no clue how to fill an order, or what to do about customer service—it was just me. But I knew I had to figure it out, and I did." Jung went on to discuss her identity shift from blogger to jewelry designer.
When you go to parties, there's that question: What do you do? People want to assign you into something—like, 'How do you make money?' And once stores started carrying my line, that gave me the confidence to say, 'I'm a jewelry designer. That's what I do now.'
More than any shout-outs she's received for her blog, Jung added that seeing a woman walk down the street with one of her pieces of jewelry on gives her the greatest sense of accomplishment.
While Brook & Lyn, the blog, still very much thrives, the name itself stands for an entity of various projects. "My work will evolve," she said. "I have a huge range of projects and fashion is just a tiny sliver of who I am."