Becoming Mimi

Photo by Kim Thomas

Becoming Mimi

By Sandi Butler Hughes
Photography by Jay Adkins & Kim Thomas

Ivey Jenningsbegan making jewelry as a hobby in 2017. Since then that hobby has grown into an orange-pink-and-glitter-infused world and a successful business by the name of Mimi Morton. With an incredible online presence, an explosive social media following, retail shops, and a future to, undoubtedly, include more locations and platforms. Mimi Morton - remember that name, for sure.

“Mimi is my alter-ego,” Ivey laughed. “I grew up very traditional, in pearls, polo shirts, and cable knit and cashmere sweaters. I was probably 32 years old before I came into my own style.” Her style, be it Ivey or Mimi, is absolutely exuberant. Ivey’s middle name is Millicent, and Mimi is a nickname. Mimi Morton is the wild design side of Ivey. Mimi expresses her creative spirit in distinctive merchandise from her signature large beaded earrings to a furniture line that includes a Hermes orange dresser, and so much more. A line that is literally expanding everyday as her creative motivation is limitless.

During the pandemic, Ivey was selling Mimi Morton merchandise through Instagram and making porch deliveries. “There were no rules,” she said about traditional business models and her early success. One of her best sellers, in 2020, was the earrings and clutches featured in fun and fanciful designs, such as beaded Tigers and martini glasses, among other unfiltered and unexpected accessories. “Everyone was buying the earrings to wear on Zoom calls,” she said. “In the cocoon of the pandemic, the Mimi Morton lifestyle emerged.”

Ivey credits her mom as one of her design inspirations. Originally from Atlanta, Ivey grew up learning and watching her mom, Robyn, a successful interior designer. This included frequent trips to fabric and furniture stores, attending antique auctions, and assisting in design reveals and installations. She also used her art talent to help create custom designs. It was infused in her from a very early age.

Another important inspiration for Ivey is Tameka Raymond. Tameka has styled celebrities from Tina Turner to Beyoncé, and Ivey worked with Tameka while in Atlanta. One of the profound lessons she learned from Tameka is to make it your own. Tameka’s son Ryan Glover is now a quarterback at the University of Memphis, and on a recent visit to Memphis to watch Ryan play, Ivey commented on Tameka’s pants. “They were a pair she had bought at Old Navy, but she had splashed them with bleach, added patches, and painted on them. She made them her own, and that is one of the best lessons I learned from her,” Ivey said.

Ivey moved, with her then significant other, to Memphis from New York, and began working as the Executive Assistant to Karen Carlisle at Carlisle Corporation, where she worked for four years. Ivey still works privately today alongside Karen as her Personal Assistant. In early 2020, after a trip to market with her mom, Ivey’s creative wheels were turning. So during the pandemic, she decided that she would do trunk shows of gifts and accessories. Much to her surprise,
and before she could even have her first trunk show, she sold all of her inventory through Instagram flash sales and word of mouth. Mimi Morton started from a small studio - the size of a walk-in closet - at the Art Factory on Cox Street behind Palladio. Ivey began building what she fondly called her “side hustle.” It was here that Palladio found her and offered her a booth in Palladio Interiors.

With so many life changes and a new booming business, she realized her passion was building her businesses. This led her to apply her own style in creating her own home. “When I moved to Memphis, everything was gray, white, and subdued Pottery Barn. I decided to throw out the gray sofa, and I got an orange one,” she laughed. The outward expression of vibrant colors was a reflection of Ivey’s personal feelings and coming into her own style. She was finally at home with her style, and not only her personal space, but with the liberating revelation of Mimi Morton.

Ivey moved to Memphis five years ago and is here to stay. “If you love Memphis, Memphis will love you back.” She is definitely feeling the love since her humble beginnings of porch deliveries. Mimi Morton has a pop-up space at Saddle Creek, and is one of only two locally-owned businesses in the shopping center. She is continuing her space at Palladio in Midtown, plus a space in the Mustard Seed in Oxford.

In becoming Mimi, Ivey has embraced all things that glitter, especially disco balls, and she has created a unique, exuberant style. Welcome to Memphis Ivey, and Memphis meet your new biggest fan - and the most exciting transplant who will certainly leave the Bluff City more colorful than she found it!

Share "Becoming Mimi" from 4Memphis!