Emmie Mayne '10 was the only girl left on the Randolph robotics team at the end of the semester. She constantly filled the pages of her sketchbooks with drawings and ideas. She took theater and as many visual art classes as she could, even taking AP Studio Art two years in row.
Emmie thought to pursue a fine arts degree close to home and see what opened in the job world, but Rusty Allen, Director of College Counseling, encouraged her to look beyond fine arts. One summer camp at the Industrial Design program at Auburn University was all it took to show her that she could take the designs that she drew on paper and bring them to life.
"I get to make my ideas real," Emmie says, when we met in her Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment studio space. “That’s the most exciting part!”
Emmie has run her design business, Lightning and Lace, out of Lowe Mill since August of 2016, and has had a successful online business since 2013. Combining technology with traditional hand crafting, she uses the skills she learned at Randolph and Auburn to create designs for local and international clients alike. Her current favorite medium is laser-cut acrylic that she can etch, stack, and assemble to create different designs.
"Inspiration comes from many sources — whether it is a prop from a show or video game, or one of my original designs," she says.
Among the things in her studio are a large 3D-printed bow, fabric printed with her designs, and an array of acrylic jewelry. She typically draws inspiration from anime and manga characters, the same ones she loved during high school. “When I go to conventions I dress as different shopkeeper characters,” she explains. “It's a good theme because I run a shop. I love that parallel.”
What character does she admire? She names a few, but settles on Kiki, from “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” A problem-solver, Kiki starts out in a new town with a new job as a delivery girl at a bakery. Striking out on your own is sometimes scary, but Kiki relies on her training to take control of her situation.
After Auburn, Emmie worked in Atlanta before returning to Huntsville, where she worked at Mind Gear and then at the Arts and Crafts Center on Redstone Arsenal. Arsenal projects sometimes involved attaching missile shrapnel to a plaque, or creating a design for a retiring general. This past year, she took her passion to create to the next level through a six-week program offered by the Women’s Business Center of North Alabama (now called The Catalyst) where she learned to develop a business plan. Just as the course finished, she learned that her application for a studio at Lowe Mill had been accepted.
Emmie enjoys being a mentor. "I want to encourage students to explore what they can do with STEAM while they are younger," she says. "I will forever be grateful to Mr. Allen for changing the direction of my life, but I wish that someone had pointed me this way sooner, and not only pointed me in the visual-arts direction. There are lots of opportunities for kids—especially girls—in STEAM-related fields, and it’s never too early to start exploring different options. I can pull an idea out of the air and use my tools to quickly make something that I can hold in my hands, which is its own kind of magic. Don't just follow along. If you have an idea, make a program or find one. It’s never too early to be an entrepreneur," she adds.
Emmie is just back from Middle Tennessee Anime Convention in Nashville and was recently a judge at Lowe Mill's inaugural Comic-Con Cosplay competition. She is forever trying to take on larger projects and greater tech challenges. You can visit her in Studio 129 at Lowe Mill, on Facebook, Tumblr, or Etsy under Lightning and Lace.