One Designer's City Guide To Her Hometown
A jewelry insider's savvy design guide to Charlotte, NC.
An accessories company founded on spontaneity, adventure, and innovation, Mignonne Gavigan creates vibrant scarves, bracelets, earrings, and more. Entrepreneur Mignonne (Maggie) Gavigan is a Parson's Paris graduate who began creating accessories while living in New York. Now, she's a both a mom and savvy business leader, continuing to travel and find inspiration for her brand.
We touched base with Gavigan to talk about her background, travel, inspiration, and more. Born and raised in Charlotte, NC, the designer gave us expert tips on how to navigate this city, including where to eat, see art, and simply have the best Charlotte experience. Read ahead for the insider's guide.
Lonny: What do you love most about Charlotte?
Maggie Gavigan: "I grew up in an area of Charlotte called Eastover, where there are a lot of oak tree-lined streets and neighborhoods safe enough for your kids to be gone for hours at a time and you don’t worry about their safety. Now, living in NY, I worry about my son, Fields, just walking out our front door — it makes me think about those early days growing up. Charlotte afforded me the chance to live in a safe environment and focus on learning and growing."
Lonny: How has Charlotte changed since then?
MG: "Since I've moved away, Charlotte maintained its character while also embracing new, interesting art, food and shopping scenes. The downtown area, called Uptown (because its north of where the neighborhoods are) has exploded with arenas and townhouses, restaurants, and shops, bringing tons of people to an area that used to be bare. I love coming back to Charlotte to see old friends and family, as well as explore how the city continues to evolve and thrive. That welcome feeling southerners can’t help but exude doesn’t hurt either."
Lonny: What's your favorite place to stay for a visit?
MG: "There is a gorgeous colonial style hotel called the Duke Mansion in this area. I trust my mother’s taste 1000%, and when she wanted to throw an engagement party for my husband, Gray and I, she chose the Duke Mansion. This spot was built in 1915 and housed many of the great families of Charlotte until recently becoming a beautiful hotel. It still holds a special place in my heart and is the most gorgeous hotel in Charlotte."
Lonny: Where's your go-to spot to find art?
MG: "The Mint Museum Randolph, located in the backyard of my neighborhood growing up, is a Charlotte staple. The Mint was where I first fell in love with art... The worldly exhibits have opened up my eyes to an abundance of creative possibilities. I remember frequently going to see the latest exhibition and attending art classes. I was lucky enough to have some of my high school art work on display there. This spot remains a special place in my heart. Each year, The Mint Museum Auxiliary hosts the Room to Bloom Celebration, the premiere fundraiser for The Mint Museum, and we contribute a Mignonne Gavigan piece to further the efforts."
Lonny: Where are your favorite places to shop in the city?
MG: "Around the corner from The Mint is a cool new concept where a men’s store, Tabor, has combined an art gallery, SOCO Gallery, and Not Just Coffee into a haven for interested Charlotteans to have a chance to shop, grab a coffee, and experience a bit of art. They curated a beautiful experience to provide Charlotte locals with. I’m also OBSESSED with SOCO’s coffee table book selection. Tabor is also affiliated with favorite stores Capitol and Poole Shop, two women’s clothing shops owned by Laura Vinroot Poole. Capitol is an upscale women’s boutique that is so expertly curated, it’s almost like walking into a modern-day museum where you can try on and buy the pieces of art work. Poole Shop is its sister store located on the building’s second floor. Take the elevator up so you don’t miss it!"
Lonny: If we want to see more art, which galleries would you recommend?
MG: "Just down the street, I’d suggest a visit to Shain Gallery (owned by my childhood friend Sybil Godwin) followed by dinner at Reid's next door. That’s a nice Charlotte evening! The gallery Sybil also puts on frequent exhibits and is representing some really cool artists these days.
Another favorite gallery of mine is Hidell Brooks Gallery, which is in the Dilworth area. They carry awesome southern female artists like Sally King Benedict and Katie Long Stevenson. Katie is a North Carolina native, too!"
Lonny: How about outdoor areas or pretty recreational spaces?
MG: "In an area close by called Myers Park, you’ll find Freedom Park. Charlotte has changed a lot, but one constant has been Freedom Park. The neighborhood has really taken a lot of care in keeping the park updated and it’s a wonderful place to run around and explore."
Lonny: What are some of your can't-miss food spots?
MG: "As you head north to Noda, the trendy/hipster arts district of Charlotte, you'll find tons of great restaurants popping up. It’s kind of like Williamsburg before it became cool. There are lots of local artists and awesome food and dive bars. They just extended the light rail there too! For lunch try Hamberdish or Cabo Fish Taco.
My favorite dinner spots in the city are Zeppelin (a delicious new spot in the Southend), Haymaker, (Uptown area), and Good Food (Located in the Montford area, this one has been around for a while and is always a classic)."
Lonny: Okay, last question. Where do you go for home décor finds?
Check out all of Gavigan's stunning designs (and even spy some of her Charlotte-found inspiration) here.