JayJay Nguyen

JayJay Nguyen

JayJay Nguyen with her mother, Tu.

Just as this image depicts, the makers behind new slow fashion label Miss MaiMai are mother and daughter. JayJay Nguyen says her gorgeous 84-year-old mother is her best friend and teacher. And you can see there’s a whole lotta love knitted into this limited edition Dandelion Vest that is the first garment for the label, and is all but sold out.

The label will start with knits but as the season changes they will look towards making unique silk garments with vintage hand embroidery.

Here, JayJay talks about her love affair with wool and why the launch of this label is so close to her heart:

My love affair with wool started when I was only four years old.

I am the youngest of my mother’s seven children, and at the age of four I had a lot of difficulty understanding why I was considered “too young” and wasn’t allowed to attend school like the rest of my older siblings. My mother had to tell me that I was “the special child” and that while my siblings were at school I was “the lucky one” to have my mother’s attention all to myself.... I believed her of course.

I grew up in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam in a city called Dalat. Dalat is often referred to as “little Paris of Vietnam” because of its French architecture, cooler climate with hilly narrow streets scattered with trendy little coffee shops. It’s the one place in Vietnam where the pace is slow and you can just sit sipping coffee and watch beautiful people meandering down the street all dressed up in their “manteau” and woollens.

To keep me entertained and out of trouble my mother decided to teach me how to knit. I remember it was a cold wet day when my mother took me to visit the Dalat wool store for the very first time. We wound our way down a narrow path to reach a tiny little wooden door with a huge cow bell hanging outside. Stepping inside the tiny wool store I was instantly hit with the warmth coming from a log fire and the sweetest grassy smell of lanolin. The store was just a tiny hole in the wall lined with cute wooden boxes from floor to ceiling. Each box housing a different colour wool. The sight, the colours, the textures and the smell got me more excited than being in a candy store.

Vietnam doesn’t have a wool industry. Wool is considered to be a luxury item imported from some exotic country overseas. My mother picked out her wool to knit me a cardigan and I was allowed to choose one ball of wool to knit a jumper for my doll. After changing my mind only a few hundred times I finally chose a vibrant moss green. I cuddled that ball of wool close to my chest all the way home and that was how my passion for knitting started....

Just me, or were you also transported right to the little wool shop?

Read more about JayJay’s story here. To shop or get updates about the label, follow along here.
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