Seville Michelle describes her jewelry journey as one of healing, going from a costume designer who made jewelry on the side to leveling up during the pandemic to become a full-time jeweler who has found personal and professional success.
For Michelle, that success means taking all of her clients along for the ride, maintaining her work’s handmade qualities, and helping other women find their own healing. It’s a substantial list of things to do, but Michelle is the kind of person who believes that everything she does has a greater meaning.
“The universe will give you things, but you have to participate,” Michelle says. “You have to be prepared to be considered. You have to love yourself and love your business in the way that you love others. It really took me hunkering down during the pandemic to have the nerve to respond to my business the way others have.”
While she believes in karma, Michelle also is woman born of two immigrants—a Cuban mother and a Greek father—and raised in Queens, N.Y., who knows you have to make your own magic sometimes. That means reaching out to others for help, like she did recently on the podcast “That Will Never Work,” where Michelle received specific advice on how to boost her sales and build her brand from Netflix cofounder (and podcast host) Marc Randolph.
Michelle’s podcast episode ran in November 2021, and Randolph advised Michelle on several ways to develop the Seville Michelle brand. First, he suggested she share her jewelry knowledge on her website with her clients, perhaps through taking her love of teaching jewelry into videos she could post on a regular schedule.
Next, Randolph suggested she continue her efforts to keep her brand made in the United States and by hand, something Michelle says she is proud of, as it helped her heal when she was hurting from a personal loss. He also said Michelle might need to expand that circle to include other craftspeople so she can scale the business appropriately.
Michelle sees Randolph’s advice and her own experiences leading up to this podcast as important steps toward her personal and professional growth as a jeweler. She is now working to tell others about what she has learned along the way, and she is exploring how she can tell those same stories through her jewelry.
“If you have the map, you should definitely share it,” Michelle says.
Michelle started designing jewelry about 13 years ago. She had worn jewelry throughout her life, from door knocker earrings to big gold chains to pendants of religious saints. She collected jewelry when she traveled, and she found that owning something created by artisans in that part of the world was not only a wonderful memory of the place but also gave her a sense of the people who were artists there.
Michelle started making jewelry that she wanted to wear, and she found early success. Michelle’s epaulets (shoulder jewelry) took off right away, especially after some of her work was featured on Glamour.com.
For her next act, she took classic hoop earrings and added her own touch by wrapping them in Italian leather. Soon, musicians at all levels as well as everyday women were wearing her earrings. Those signature leather door knockers were featured on magazine covers and gained a huge following, she says. She also worked with Patricia Field’s House of Field and sold her accessories there.
Yet she continued to search for her own definition of success, experiencing those professional highs among some personal lows. That is when she came across a book that started her thinking about her business in a new way.
In that book, The Knitting Circle, by Ann Hood, the author tells a semi-autobiographical story of a woman recovering from a child’s death through knitting and learning how to share her grief with a circle of other women. Michelle says she also found solace through her jewelry.
“Through that experience of making things with my hands, healing happened in a way I didn’t expect,” Michelle says.
Then, the coronavirus pandemic hit. Michelle says she knew it was time to change. She revamped her website. She came up with new ideas. She applied for and appeared on a podcast. Everything pushed her in a new direction.
“In between costume designing and styling for fashion shoots, I always had my jewelry line. It wasn’t until the pandemic, when I had no work at all, that I really, completely, and wholeheartedly focused on this amazing gift from the universe,” Michelle says. “I knew it was time to give it the support it really needed to take off like a proper business.”
With her new tagline of “Earrings come in all shapes, colors, and sizes,” which highlights how earrings reflect inclusivity across all people and body types, Michelle hopes to inspire women to wear what makes them feel wonderful and to share her jewelry in new ways. Here she is, a woman from Queens, who now has a credible jewelry line and membership in the Accessories Council, a longtime goal that became reality in 2021.
Michelle hopes her efforts to fulfill her dreams will inspire others.
“I’ve always been creative. As a costume designer, I had to work in every capacity throughout the years. But without work, I had to survive,” Michelle says. “This has been a great opportunity for me to explore what it means to survive again in a different way.”
Top: Seville Michelle has grown her business from a side hustle into her full-time passion during the pandemic, getting advice along the way from luminaries including costume designer Patricia Field and Marc Randolph, cofounder of Netflix (all photos courtesy of Seville Michelle).@jckmagazine
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