When Lusine Simonyan first moved from Armenia to the United States in 2010, she was pursuing a purpose broader than her daily work as an accountant—one that would make an impact on her community both back home and in her new country of residence. “I was looking for something that was more important than myself,” she says.
An avid collector of one-of-a-kind jewelry and accessories, Lusine was familiar with the joy brought on by the sourcing of unique pieces carefully crafted by master artisans who imbued a sense of tradition and cultural heritage in each of their pieces—like Arman Mazmanyan, whose silver jewelry incorporates patterns inspired by the natural landscapes of Armenia and captures and shares his cultural pride. Lusine wondered if Armenians around the world would feel the same sense of pride and expanded her search for other talented craftsmen and women committed to creating high-quality works of wearable art.
Launched in 2019, Miray Collections represents Lusine’s vision for curating an eclectic collection of accessories that highlights the diverse and distinctive creative expertise of each artist represented on the website. From hand-forged silver jewelry to hand-pressed floral accessories to hand-painted silk scarves to leather handbags etched with ancient Armenian symbols and cryptography, each item in the Miray Collections catalog demonstrates Lusine’s personal interest in high-quality, authentic pieces crafted from natural and sustainable materials.
To Lusine, her sense of fulfillment comes from maintaining a connection to the Armenian tradition of hand-crafted artisanal goods and sharing the talents of the artisans—silversmiths, fine artists, graphic designers, and metalworkers—with a global audience. “It’s about preserving heritage and the Armenian culture,” she says. “My presence in the United States is a way for these talented Armenian artists to be represented here by someone who truly believes in the value of sharing their gifts.”
Beyond a retail endeavor that engages U.S. consumers with Armenian goods, Lusine sees Miray as an opportunity for Armenian creatives—especially women—to discover their own potential and opportunities for growth as both artists and entrepreneurs. Because of Lusine’s contributions to empowering female entrepreneurs, Miray Collections was recently selected to be part of the Female Founder Collective, an elite network of female-owned and led businesses. Founded by fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff, the Female Founder Collective recognizes female entrepreneurs that create opportunities for women in ways that impact social and economic growth, a value system that aligns with Lusine’s vision to empower and amplify the voices of the Armenian artists that are represented by Miray Collections.
“When a woman creates a workplace, it’s not just about herself,” Lusine says. “It’s about her family, it’s about the community she lives in, and it’s about the employees she engages. It’s part of women’s nature to think more broadly than herself and her own interests. When you promote women’s businesses, you’re promoting the success of a whole community.”
As Miray continues to grow and establish as a retail destination for artisanal Armenian accessories, Lusine maintains the core mission of her true passion project.
“Artists should focus their attention on creating art,” she says. “They shouldn’t be concerned with selling a product. Our goal is to serve the artists by bringing their product to the consumer. Miray is a platform for Armenian artists to share their talents with an international audience.”
By Gareen Darakjian