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Designer Dossier: Dorsey's Meg Strachan Talks Diamonds, Discipline, and Packing for Paris.
Disrupt an industry, but make it chic.
Dorsey is one of those brands that bled into my consciousness so organically, I can’t tell you exactly the first time I ran into it. It seemed like suddenly, everyone was talking about it all at once. What I do remember though, is that I was immediately buying it. The sparkling lab-grown stones in Founder Meg Strachan’s repertoire stretched beyond the standard definition of fine jewelry currently on the market — glinty tennis necklaces jostled for my attention on her website along with earrings akin to something from my Gram Gram’s jewelry box. The vibe was estate sale, but the execution was decidedly fashion.
Impeccably-styled photos boasted an entirely new approach to the stuffy old diamond — with price points that were accessible, because (and here’s the kicker) the gemstones were lab-grown, ethically and sustainably. It was clear to me then that someone was planting her flag in the ground.
Fast forward a year or so, and I’m sitting at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica having lunch. Dorsey Founder Meg Strachan is opposite of me, and we’re getting along like old friends.
Meg’s hot takes on publishing (she believes independent publishing, and especially Substacks, are where consumers will turn for fashion writing), marketing (she cites working directly with stylists as a powerful launch pad for her brand), and kinship (she relies on a strong network of other female founders) sounded like earmarked pages from my own script. She spoke thoughtfully and with feeling. I liked her immediately.
If you’ve been here awhile, you may notice I place her jewelry (which is named for Meg’s grandmother) in this newsletter often. I wrote about Meg’s jewelry before I ever crossed paths with her (or could generate an affiliate link). I’m a true customer and fan of the brand, having spent many of my own dollars collecting her pieces. And as I told her that day, what fun is Substack if I can’t use it to flirt with my girl crushes?
Below, Meg talks diamonds, Dorsey, and packing for Paris.
What album or song is captivating you lately? The Taylor Swift Spotify channel is on at my house every weekend.
What’s the last piece of art or decor that you bought for your home, or a piece you're eyeing? I’ve just bought two new sconces from Nickey Kehoe in LA. They’re gold and look like two people are holding hands with one another (that sounds a bit odd as they’re hard to describe) but they remind me of something I’d find in a cool hotel in London.
Looking ahead, what's on your travel docket for the rest of 2023? What are you packing? I’m headed to Paris in the next few weeks with my family to shoot a new campaign for Dorsey and for a very short vacation with my husband’s family in Cap Ferret. I’ll probably pack Dorsey, a few white dresses, and Matteau one-piece swimsuits. I’ve learned not to take much with me on vacation. I don’t end up wearing it.
What's in your cart right now? Trousers and incredibly basic tank tops. I take screenshots of my carts because I abandon them often and forget to go back.
What's your favorite thing about the way women dress in New York, and also LA? In New York, I find that women really find their own way to wear things. They simply put things together that make them look unique to who they are. LA women have a particularly strong sneaker game.
What should be in my cart right now? Dorsey, of course! Have you seen The James bezel necklace? I think it’s the necklace of summer.
What's the last beauty product you bought that actually worked? Augustinus Bader night cream. It truly changed my skin.
How did your Grandmother (and company namesake), Dorsey, influence your style? Dorsey was a woman who loved classics. She always had on a great flat, a wide-leg trouser, and an oversized blazer. I don’t think she ever woke up and got dressed for anyone but herself and she managed to be polished at all times. Truly, there is no one who inspired my style more than her.
What's the last thing you read that you really loved? I’ve been reading a lot of books lately about the relationship between diet and mental health (anxiety and depression but also mental alertness and agility). At 37 I’ve traded alcohol for infrared saunas and cold plunges. I’m just in a phase of my life where I want to feel as good as possible as often as possible. I’ve recently been reading everything that Harvard’s Dr. Chris Palmer writes.
What's the best advice about love Dorsey ever gave you? About business? About friendship? Dorsey understood the complexities of love better than anyone. I’ve always thought that it was because her mother died in a car accident when she was 5 and she was raised by her stepmother. When I asked her about being raised by a stepmother after losing her mom so young, she would say that her stepmother did her best to raise someone else’s daughter. I often wonder if that is why Dorsey built the family that she did.
She was incredibly dedicated to her family. In my family, you just don’t miss a family holiday. You show up when it counts. You take care of the generations before you. She was a deeply accepting person who made people feel that they mattered. It mattered when you came home for Christmas. It mattered that it was your birthday. You mattered. She had a very large family and she kept up with all of us (texting us on a regular basis at the age of 97 and calling to say hello). Her family was the most important thing to her. She had great values.
You have a wonderful network of fellow female entrepreneurs. What brands should our audience know about, and what products? I feel so lucky to know these women! I always say that I wouldn’t have a company if it weren’t for Ariel Kaye the Founder of Parachute Home. I was a customer for many years before we met and I use all of their products in my bedroom and bathrooms.
What's a brand that you're a total fan of? Chava Studio. I met its founder Olivia sitting across from her at a dinner in Mexico City last April. Her shirting is so beautiful, all made to order, and there just isn’t a better bespoke tuxedo shirt. (Ed note: read Olivia’s own Designer Dossier here.)
What's your advice for someone that finds entrepreneurship difficult or lonely? My advice is that it’s never going to stop being difficult and lonely so you have to accept those feelings and keep going despite them. If you can slowly start to ignore your own feelings you’ll benefit from it. This is all to say that when you want to stop doing whatever you are doing… it’s self-discipline and only self-discipline that gets you to the next stage. In most cases that means continuing forward when you want to stop. I confront my own version of imposter syndrome on a daily basis.
On some level, after the past few years, I’m used to my own mental noise. At this point, I am starting to think that it’s truly strange that there isn’t more coverage of the mental fitness it takes to survive as an entrepreneur. Most of my life now is about filling my own mental and emotional well so that I can show up for the areas of my life that matter. In January of this year, I woke up one morning and decided I wasn’t going to continue forward the way I did in 2022 (when I was constantly burning the candle at both ends).
My life is not very exciting right now. I am really focusing on taking care of myself (I don’t do almost any type of social activities during the week), my family, and growing my company. For example, right now I often turn down social plans to go for a sauna and cold plunge on a Friday night.
Drop a beauty secret. Chapstick and lip liner.
Drop a parenting tip. Always have a snack on you.
What do you collect? Baseball caps. It wasn’t on purpose. But I now have Dorsey’s baseball caps and one of my grandfather’s (her husband). I really do enjoy a good baseball cap for a 5 am coffee run (after becoming a mom, it really is true, you don’t sleep).
Describe your perfect Saturday: Just one more day with Dorsey. At her house, next to her pool, where I learned to swim, in the house that feels like home to me more than anywhere. Just one opportunity to say goodbye in person. Dorsey passed away two and a half weeks before I was coming home to be with her for Christmas during the delta variant spread in December of 2021. We didn’t get to say goodbye.
The Tear Sheet:
Substack:a.k.a. What I Put On Today
Recent expansion: lab-grown diamond rivière necklaces, bracelets, and studs set in 14k gold.
Current muse: Suki Waterhouse
Level up your stack: Theodora double-trillion lab-grown sapphire bracelet
Sentiment alert: The DMJ custom lab-grown diamond ring is modeled after Meg’s Grandmother Dorsey’s own wedding band.
Just pick one: Ascher Cut Earrings