Small, ornately decorated with butterflies and flowers in Swarovski crystals, and popping up everywhere from Harvey Nichols to socialite events, Ming Ray bags are immediately identifiable by bag collectors around the world. Initially, Ming Ray started out of a footwear brand, but the sale of four of her now-signature bags for £12,000 each quickly refocused the brand, pouring all resources into the handbag line.
“My products are made by the best factories in Italy who also produce for super brands like Chanel, Dior, Louise Vuitton and Valentino. My pieces have a very distinctive style and supreme quality, which in my observation, are best appreciated by women who really know their luxury handbags. My clients have such great taste and knowledge of luxury. What does a woman want when she already has everything and can afford anything? She comes to me for something fresh, bold and unique.”
At the age of 8, Ray fell in love with John Galliano’s first collection for Dior and decided to study to become a couturier. She trained with Alexander McQueen and Jimmy Choo in jewelry, textile and handbag design. That all-around training manifested itself in her namesake brand launch, Ming Ray.
“The biggest challenge (at the beginning) was trying to get doors opened during my very first season when nobody had heard of me or of my brand. I remember emailing every single PR agency and showroom on earth; they either didn’t reply or told me they didn’t want unknown brand. I went on for months without fruition till I ran into someone who believed in my products. He ended up being my sales director and everything picked up from there.”
With a team in place, Ming took to social media to promote her brand. “(The) majority of sales are coming from Instagram nowadays – this is true for brands at every price point. Influencers and bloggers are in the front rows of every fashion show. A traditional ad in Vogue magazine brings a brand a fraction of the attention compared to having an influencer post a picture on her account. If a brand doesn’t exist on social media, it doesn’t exist at all.”
Her brand philosophy, sophisticated playfulness, refreshes and reconnects her clients with the light-hearted little girl still inside every one of them. “My inspiration is innocence and seduction – I love it when the two come together,” says Ming. “I love exotics and continue to look for ways to use them beautifully. But I’m also offering Vegan-friendly alternative that have the same artfulness and seduction.”
Two stores in London (Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge and Fenwick Bond Street) and three locations in Qatar (Harvey Nichols Doha, 51 East and Galleries Lafayette) carry the playful brand. The entire collection is also available online at mingray.com, luxurypromise.com and thadeuslondon.com.