By James Monaco
We were looking for a food stylist for an early Liquor Cabinet photo shoot when our friend Maggie Ruggiero introduced us to Mira Evnine. “She’s not necessarily a professional stylist, but she has really great taste and can do literally anything you need,” Maggie said. At this point, the California native had been in New York several years, carving out her own winding, wonderful path after leaving a more traditional professional career. “I thought of myself as a Jack of all trades, master of some,” she says, “which is why I so quickly connected with Amy and Patrick. Like ‘oh, you have this problem, too?’”
Mira et fleurs.
“This problem” refers to the many, many talents of Mira (and other creatives just trying to make it work in this city). She’s at once a food stylist, prop stylist, florist, specialty cook, and purveyor of fine objects--and, she does her own cleanup, too. Whether it’s flowers, or gorgeous artifacts, or food, Mira unifies her work under the heading “all things around the table.”
A bit of a wunderkind, Mira has been working in food and design since high school, with her earliest gig being in the kitchen at the legendary Chez Panisse. Next came an architecture degree from RISD, prestigious positions at two New York architecture firms, and then, after the 2008 collapse of the building industry, a rather unexpected gig working for Upper East Side gourmet grocery tycoon Eli Zabar, “literally attached to his hip.” From merchandising to marketing, Mira did it all. “As he liked to put it, I did everything that no one else wanted to do. I was responsible for kind of zhuzhing (editor’s note: zh like barraGe) everything. Eventually, that meant I helped Eli design and build his newer concepts, like the prepared-food shop Eli’s On Madison.”
In 2014, she decided to head out on her own. To do…what? She wasn’t exactly sure. But at the end of that adventuring out, there was an impressive self-made career. In the meantime, there was a lot of not knowing.
“I just hustled. I actually don’t have a very clear memory of it. And that’s the beauty of not knowing what you’re doing: you just do things. It’s when you start knowing what you’re doing that it becomes a little bit harder.”
What made things a little bit easier was when she found like-minded folks who also insisted that possessing many skill sets is an attribute, not a weakness. Folks like Amy and Patrick. We’ve tapped Mira’s talents for everything from dinners to photobooths and photo shoots, and her creative intuition has gotten us out of many a bind.
“I do joke that doing a million different things is a ‘problem’ because it can be a blessing and a curse. A grass is greener issue. Maybe if I chose a single path, I would do incredibly well, but I’ve tried that before and it didn’t make me particularly happy.”
What does make her happy, evidently, is a good challenge. Like working a service shift after styling a twelve-hour shoot. We were throwing a dinner on top of the William Vale Hotel in Brooklyn, and Mira overheard that we were suddenly short-staffed. She piped up, thinking: “Well I’m already here, why don’t I just do it with you?” and jumped right in wherever the team needed her. The night came off, like most things Mira touches, beautifully.
Spring Street members in Mira's photobooth. Initiation 2017.
Mira’s handiwork is everywhere from our initiation photo booths, complete with stunning foliage, full-size trees, and vintage frames, to our Liquor Cabinet cocktail shoots, which are also no easy feat to pull off, what with totally custom seamless white backgrounds. But lucky for all of us, Mira keeps her eyes wide open for inspiration – whether she’s traveling the world, scrolling through Instagram, or rushing from job to job. “I was walking the other day and saw some really beautiful and very modestly painted pots on someone’s stoop. And I actually had this moment where I stopped and thought, ‘Why is that so beautiful to me?’ There was a certain whimsy, something that stuck with me, even though I didn’t fully understand why.”
We could all appreciate that moment of almost but not quite understanding why something is beautiful, that je ne sais quoi, no? Whether she gets why or not, Mira certainly inspires it. And that’s what we like to see.