Min and Mon: A Lower East Side Tale of Retail Discovery

The store on 55 Spring. All photos courtesy of Emma McCormick.

The store on 55 Spring. All photos courtesy of Emma McCormick.

By Emma McCormick

In a dream, a handbag came to me. Well, it wasn’t actually a dream, it was an Instagram ad. However, it might as well have appeared from the deepest corners of my unconscious because in my mind it was perfect.

After investigating the brand, Min & Mon, further, I ended up in their shop on 55 Spring Street on the Lower East Side. I was greeted by the neon twin octopi sign, the octopi being respectively Min and Mon. The space is small, and might otherwise be dingy, but the bags, wallets, and bizarre "creature" keychains that lined the walls brought light to the room though the sun had already set at 4:30pm (a sad truth of living in New York in the winter).

After doing some embarrassing staring, I said to no one in particular, “This brand… It’s going to be so big... The prices will skyrocket once its really discovered. I have to buy something.”

The shop girl smiled and responded with in a subtle accent, “Thank you,” as if personally proud.

“Do you work here?” I asked.

“I’m the designer,” she responded nonchalantly.

Maybe to someone who hadn’t been stalking this Instagram for months, this moment would not have been that big a deal. But for me, who had indeed been obsessing over their website, I couldn’t believe the designer would simply be standing there. I imagined someone with this much talent would be traveling to far off lands while her minions did the dirty work.

After talking to her (I never got her name, only her husband Andres’s), I discovered that she hailed from Colombia and was a self-declared serial entrepreneur. She married Andres, who worked in a coveted design job at LeSportSac (some of his art that is displayed in the store is photographed below). After being together for some time, she used her “architectural” design skills to devise bag shapes while he used his art design acumen to create patterns and paintings. Thus, Min and Mon was born from their marriage, and as a duo they married funk and fantasy into incredible bags, wallets, and more.

“How did you think of the name?” I asked her. It seemed so avant garde, so fantastical and odd.

“It’s just my son’s names, BenjaMIN and SiMON.” Again, she was perfectly nonchalant.  

Their latest line was called “Creatures of the Future” (a logo which was hand stitched on the back of every piece). The creatures have approximately 8 eyes on their faces, the reason for which I could not obtain. It just was.

Maybe you had to be there, or maybe I am just utterly obsessed. Regardless, If you happen to be in downtown New York, visit the shop on 55 Spring Street, and I assure you that you will be as enchanted as I was.

Continue reading to see how the pieces speak for themselves in the photo story below.

ArtSteven Norwalk