MEW + Company offers up something new and modern for Las Cruces
When handmade items become both a labor of love and an expressive artistic piece with a continued practical use, it’s a treat for both the artist and the customer. MEW and Company is collaboration between two lifelong friends who believe that art can be a daily part of life.
Written by Cassie McClure
Photography by Steve Macintyre
Originally from West Virginia, Mary Wunderlich has been making and selling art since she was young, at first convincing her siblings to buy her work. She graduated on to craft shows when she was 16 and worked at a gallery where she would teach children during an afterschool program.
In Maryland, she went on to wholesale her stationery prints to local businesses, but after moving out to Oklahoma, she finally found some roots to make her business grow, opening a store and working with other artists to become MEW and Company.
When her husband left the military, the Wunderlichs explored where best to settle with their young son Calvin. “We loved Texas, and had thought about El Paso, but it was too much desert,” admits Mary. “I traced my finger up the map and found Las Cruces.”
After repeated calls, Mary convinced her best friend, Brittany Ferguson, to move out to Las Cruces as well. Mary and Brittany can’t actually recall becoming friends, only knowing each other in their lives since they were small. Their artistry has become so intertwined that they know exactly what each other is looking to go for in a new piece.
“Compromise is easy,” laughs Mary. “Especially when it’s not much different than what I was thinking.”
“Playful modern” is how they describe their work, from their handbags and catch-all pouches to their hand-colored watercolor cards and delicately crafted jewelry. MEW and Company excels at original items, interweaving different liners and different stamp designs for anyone to have a one-of-a-kind, vegan-friendly (with vinyl bottoms) tote that fits a small laptop, wallet, and phone. Their smaller pouches can be matched to the bag or customers are welcome to try out another fun combination.
Their jewelry is simple in design but reflects the mood of their entire brand: pieces that can be worn with love every day. “We’re about practical gifts and practical jewelry,” says Brittany. “High quality jewelry that is extremely simple and modern, but affordable. You’re not paying a fine jewelry price, but if you take care of it, it can last you a lifetime.”
“We want to change the way people view handmade,” adds Mary. “It’s either extremely expensive or the artist is underselling themselves. We’re trying to find that happy medium. A lot of our items are competitive with Target. We want people to think, ‘Oh I want a new bag so I’m going to go to MEW and Company because it’s handmade, because it’s the same price as a Target bag, and because it’s unique.’”
Mary calls their process “satisfying,” “affirming,” and “encouraging,” adding that their motivation and energy comes from seeing customers as excited about their products as they are. Brittany agrees, saying “They see it and they say, ‘Oh my goodness, I love all of this, it’s so cute,’ and we’re just thinking, ‘Yes!’ because every piece is a part of us.”
The duo says their clientele swings from young to elderly, from casual to professional—and everyone seems to love bee print. Thanks to the Las Cruces Farmer’s Market, their business has beein “moving fast,” notes Mary. MEW and Company has already embarked on collaborations with other local businesses including Organ Mountain Outfitters, Beck’s Coffee, Noru, Spiced Ink, Priq, and Beard Brothers to create events that embrace small business.
“We hold events to give something for vendors to push towards,” said Mary. “We want them to know that you can make a successful business out of what you love to do.”
We want to change the way people view handmade. It’s either extremely expensive or the artist is underselling themselves. We’re trying to find that happy medium.
They’ve pushed toward something new as well, just signing a lease for a space in downtown, with their store set to open in March. “It’ll be a full concept, studio space and store” explains Mary. “Everything is handmade, and you can see everything being made. We also can then host tea parties and crafting days.”
MEW and Company already holds Crafty Tuesdays at their home studio and does traveling Paint and Sip parties for those wanting to host their own painting party at home. “We want to pull all these things together, the studio, our handbags, jewelry, and stationery,” says Brittany, “but also have a kids’ area and a home decor area. We’re working on cloth napkins now.”
Ultimately, Brittany and Mary are hoping to create a destination for members of the community to come out and be creative. Brittany adds “You know when you go somewhere and it just clicks with you? The feeling of ‘Oh, I love this; this just makes sense’? I want it to be that.”