Curating Style for Every Woman Meet Fashionista Stacie Barba
As a wife and mother of four, Stacie Barba does her best work in the wee hours of the morning. Juggling school schedules and activities between photo shoots and business meetings has been her norm for the past decade. This entrepreneur has done what it takes to balance family while building businesses. From fashion to tech, weddings, and now jewelry, Barba wants to encourage women and help them feel strong, bold and beautiful. In New York she styled top celebrities from Mariah Carey to Ron Howard and his family. She spent some time in Italy and returned to the States to start a bridal business. Named Coordinator of the Year, two years in a row for TheKnot.com, Barba has also been featured in numerous magazines, and was involved in planning a wedding for the CW show “Hitched or Ditched.” With her latest venture into jewelry, Risen sat down with this creative lady to learn more about Mina & Company.
Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine in La Jolla, California
Risen Magazine: You graduated with a fashion degree and moved to New York City. What was life like for you during that season?
Stacie Barba: I started in fashion in Sacramento [California] at Nordstrom. When my manager moved to New York, I moved as well because they needed help in management. I had such a great experience. I got to meet a lot of really cool people. My friend worked for John F. Kennedy Jr., as his assistant at George magazine and her mom was Editor of People magazine, so I got to meet JFK Jr. before he passed. And some of my clients at the time included Kathy Lee Griffith, Mariah Carey and Ron Howard. It was a fun period in my life, but I got homesick after a year and wanted to move. It was a really hard decision but I did leave.
RM: What did you do once you moved back to California?
SB: Well, I actually worked in tech at MCI before it became WorldCom. I worked in their technical support center and totally had to train my brain since it was so different from fashion. However, it helped me become more confident because after I had worked there for a few years I quit and I moved to Italy for three months.
My mom is Italian and I’ve always loved the Italian culture so I went with my best friend, who is Italian, and was a model with Elle Macpherson and Cindy Crawford. I lived with her family and kept it as home base and went from Northern Italy to Venice. I went to Rome and Florence was actually my favorite place to be. There was so much art and a lot of creative inspiration. I was around 23 years old and took a train that detaches and gets placed on a boat to Sicily. I went to the city of Palermo where the food is amazing and the people were so kind.
When I got home I got a job at AT&T doing technical project managing because I couldn’t find anything in fashion. All the jobs required me to move to Los Angeles or New York and I wasn’t ready for that. I worked as a switch engineer for about seven years and I was the only girl out of 45 men. In the world of telecom you have to prove yourself and be tough. Along with telecom, my same Italian friend, was Vice President of a modeling agency in Sacramento and she put on fashion shows and asked me to help put together a bridal fashion show.
RM: Did that give you your first taste of the bridal world before you launched your own wedding company?
SB: I’ve always loved weddings and I used to draw wedding dresses in the fifth grade. We would drive to South Lake Tahoe growing up and on trips I would draw wedding dresses. I love the creativity of weddings. I moved to San Diego and lived in Coronado and still worked for AT&T for about five years. I got married in 2002 and we had our first son, Austin, and I was at a point where my more traditional husband didn’t want me to work, but I like to work, so I thought if I did something where I had my own hours it might be all right. I had planned my own wedding and I was already a project manager and I had a fashion degree so I thought all the skills lent themselves perfectly to the wedding business so I started my own company which I grew from 2002 to 2014.
At my peak I was Coordinator of the Year, two years in a row, for TheKnot.com and I did a wedding show for the CW Network called “Hitched or Ditched.” Basically I was the event planner and had to pull off a wedding in seven days for a bride and groom I had never met and then they decided if they were going to get married or break up. The couple I planned for did end up getting married. The producer was actually the producer for The Bachelor and wanted me to do more episodes, but I had three kids at the time and I just couldn’t make it work. My joy is to encourage others and see them happy.
My joy is to encourage others and see them happy.
RM: What went into the decision to sell the wedding company last year and start your jewelry business, Mina & Company?
SB: I’ve always loved jewelry and in the past four to five years the wedding business has been changing dynamically. I was having a really hard time adjusting once Instagram and Facebook really started getting big. I knew in order for me to adapt to the time I had to get into social media. Having already been at the top of my game, I tend to be a little private and I had a couple of photos lifted from [my] website where people had copied my design. It was hard for me to understand that it is actually a great compliment to have someone copy my work instead of feeling protective about my creations and ideas. It was good for me to learn that it’s okay for someone to think something is cool and use it because in actuality that is how the world moves and how the fashion industry sets trends and so forth.
When I found out I was pregnant with my fourth child it was getting harder and harder to find a good balance of home, work, and my family. I was missing soccer games and my husband wanted me home a little more so I sold the wedding business last year as my priorities shifted.
Mina & Company came about when I was watching Pregnant in Heels [Bravo’s docudrama] and there was a Hawaiian girl named Mina and I thought it was a cool name. And when I create a company name I’m very strategic. I thought the name was different and I love Tiffany & Co. and so I thought the two together would be memorable. I wanted to create a brand like Kate Spade or Ralph Lauren; something that doesn’t go out of style. I want Mina & Company to be trendy and classic hitting every aspect of a woman from mom, to sister, to wife, to friend. After I decided on this, my husband, who is Mexican, says, “Do you know what Mina means?” I said, “No, I just think it’s a cool name.” He says, “It means goldmine in Spanish.” I said, “Well that’s a good thing!”
RM: Talk to me about how your company works. Do you design the pieces or are you gathering accessories together and then helping find the best fit for your customer?
SB: Some of the pieces I design and as we grow I will design more. The other pieces I buy and I try to find things that not everybody has and that fit with the brand. I will buy some staple pieces, like hoop earrings, but for the most part I pick memorable items. Eventually I will have collection pieces too. I have a wide range of prices because I didn’t want to go too narrow with prices too high, or too low, where the quality is cheap. Because I came from Nordstrom, quality and customer service are key. I want my clients to come back and have a personal experience.
The way I have created the business is that when you go on the website there is a questionnaire to curate your style. And however you answer the questions a stylist looks them over and will create a custom box for you based on your style and it gets sent right to your doorstep. So if you are a VIP then you will get a box sent to you each month with new items that are curated to your style and those items are not available on the website; they are more exclusive. And if you don’t want to be a monthly subscriber, you can always shop directly on the website and pick out any of those items individually.
RM: How has faith played a role in your journey through fashion, tech, weddings and jewelry?
SB: It’s been huge. I grew up in church my whole life. When I was living in New York I wasn’t really living for the Lord, but God loves you no matter what. As I grew older, my faith grew and the one thing I said was, “I am marrying a man who loves God.” My husband is a Christian and it is so important when it comes to marriage and family.
I have learned so much, and especially in the past two years, I’ve really learned to trust the Lord. I have changed business plans a couple of times but overall I said, “Lord I put this business in your hands with YOU first.” Now, I can see the direction it is going and there are so many doors opening. To me, jewelry is the item that finishes your whole outfit; it’s the icing on the cake. It makes someone feel like she is the present God made her to be. I want women to feel beautiful and if I can show them how to do it, then I will.
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