There is a balance to accessorizing: You want to look like you’re not about to take shit from anyone, but you don’t want to over do it and end up more Prince than punk. For some, this balance is an inherent trait. If you’re not one of these people, meet Mitchell Binder.
Binder started his accessories company, King Baby Studio—a line of hefty silver rings, pendants, buckles, and more—after working as an apprentice and casting his own silver pieces for friends out of a 500-square-foot studio. In the late ’90s, a group of Japanese collectors found his jewelry on eBay, flew to Southern California, and bought his whole stock for cash. He used the money to start King Baby Studio in 2000.
“It was a total rags-to-riches thing. I’m from Jackson, Mississippi, and moved [to Southern California] when I was a teenager and found my niche in life,” Binder says. “I’ve been lucky enough to make jewelry for everyone from celebrities and rockers to a CEO of a Fortune 500 company and someone going to jail.”
Despite such disparity among his clientele, Binder has found success be cause his work speaks to people who recognize craftsmanship and quality. In fact, his first collection sold at Neiman Marcus was the fastest to hit the million-dollar mark in the history of the retailer. “Their customer was different than the rogue biker,” he says. “It was the weekend warrior, someone who wants that cool mystique but doesn’t know how to get it, so they emulate it. And actually, it’s worked out well.”
So where does Binder find inspiration for his pieces? This season it came from his tattoos. “The crowned heart with wings and flames on my bicep is one of the designs that I used,” says Binder. “It’s my favorite tattoo right now, but I’m going to Mark Mahoney to get two pieces on my chest, so those will probably be my new favorites. With tattoos, it’s always the last you get that are your favorite.”
Binder’s work—and his type of saleable cool—is in demand these days. A production company is currently pitching a reality show of his life, and this past winter he was busy doing voice-overs for the show and dealing with a film crew following him around. In addition to the pilot, he has a high-end apparel line in the works.
True to his roots, Binder says, “I’m happiest when I’m on the bench pouring metal. I used to be worried about making enough money to buy a pack of smokes. Now I laugh every day when I go through those Bel Air gates. I’m like, you got to be joking. That’s all fun, but the best part is the people I work with and get to meet. We’re kind of going for the ride and enjoying it.”