In honor of International Women’s day, I decided to give an inside peek into the ‘rags to riches’ life story of our fearless leader, designer, and owner of Sweet Skins, Mira Fannin. She probably wouldn’t agree 100% about the “riches” part in monetary terms, but in terms of creative abandon, feminine power, and love of life, she’s definitely winning. If you’re a Sweet Skins fan, you probably know that she started the business in her garage some 13 years ago, while single-handedly raising three young children. What you might not know as much about is what came before that.
It may not surprise you to hear that Mira was born in a hippie house in San Francisco to a multiracial couple who had traveled west from Atlanta Georgia. When Mira was 3 years old, her parents, with 5 kids in tow, made a sudden move to Bangkok, Thailand after a house fire in their Stinson Beach home. Life as a Thai girl was sweet and greatly inspired so much of the classic feminine simplicity of Mira’s design aesthetic.
Something that Mira hasn’t shared with many until now is that her life as a youth was turned upside down when her father was arrested. Her childhood and happy family life in Southeast Asia came to a screeching halt. Due to the illegality of the transportation of Marijuana in the 70’s & 80’s, Mira’s father found himself out of work and in the slammer for the next 10 years of her life.
When asked if there is a coincidence to her father’s relations with Marijuana and the fact that her clothing line is made primarily from hemp, she replied, “It kind of just happened that way. It was not so much a political statement in either case, as it is apparently, a vibrational connection between blood line and plant species.”
At 13 when Mira was still wearing baggy ESPRIT sweatshirts and Sade heavy brows, she and her siblings found themselves transported and spat out on the streets of San Francisco. Mira lived several years as a full-fledged homeless street-kid. Even in her toughest days, she didn’t really pull off the tough kid image. I asked her to tell me about a few pivotal moments from that part of her life. She recalled, “One night when we were hanging out in a burned down abandoned building in Lower Haight, one of the older really hard core punk men referred to me as ‘calm, cool and collective’. I thought I was just really just shy. I’ve always remembered the feeling that gave me and aspired to be that. Another was when the adult sister of a friend of mine who had lost his path referred to me as ‘Mira the elegant’, when I was really just a dirty street kid. I wondered how she knew what was in my heart, even despite my ragged exterior.”
At the young age of 18, Mira wrapped up her days as a homeless youth by having her first baby and getting on welfare. From there, she started to slowly climb her way out of rags into a life that would allow her to work hard and enjoy some freedom. Lots of love, nursing babies, and attempts at home businesses, came before Sweet Skins. Then she found herself at the Eugene Saturday Market with designs that came from years of hardship and perseverance. She had found her passion and was on her way to becoming the owner of a full-fledged eco clothing company. Minority and woman-owned at that.
When asked to describe what Sweet Skins means to her, Mira said, “Sweet Skins is, in many ways, is a culmination of everything I have learned as a Thai kid, a punk rock youth, a teen mom, a homemaker, and a natural mystic. I love my life, but I am tested daily. Often times I am far from calm, cool, or collected. I get stressed, but I have a close bond with my inner child and she reminds me to take things like a child would. To be always learning, always pulling myself up by the boot straps, and trying again.”