Jewelry Interview Michelle Grady Designer

Can you tell us a little about your background?
I have always been involved with art my whole life. Growing up I took painting and drawing classes eventually moving on to 3D art (paper mache, pottery and then to jewelry). I have been making metal jewelry for about 20 years now and selling it for about 9 years. I wholesale & retail my work, which can be found on my website http://www.michelgrady.com/ , as well as in galleries and shops across the United States. I also teach jewelry making classes and workshops. I am self taught silversmith. I took my first jewelry making class when I was 18 where I learned the basics and taught myself the rest by trial and error. I love what I do and couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

How did you become involved in the jewelry business?
Creativity runs in my family and making jewelry started as a hobby for me. I would make pieces for myself and also give jewelry as gifts to friends and family. Before I knew it I was getting custom orders for pieces from my sister’s friends and others who heard about through word of mouth. They were then wearing and giving my jewelry as gifts. That’s when Michele Grady Designs was born!

Can you briefly summarize your style or inspiration?
My style can p rob ably best be defined as contemporary yet industrial with a feminine vibe. My inspiration comes from my imagination as well as the shapes and the colors of the stones and metals I use.

What is the most satisfying part of your business?
Working for my self and doing what I love. It is also very satisfying knowing that others appreciate what I create. I wouldn’t be in business if they didn’t!

What is your greatest business challenge?
Doing it all myself. It gets very stressful and overwhelming at times. It’s hard to do everything alone but I feel I can’t delegate the work until I have mastered it myself. And when I say that I am talking about the business aspect not the creative aspect. The creative part is what comes easy to me!

What makes your jewelry different from other designers?
My jewelry is mostly metal and stones where most of the jewelry you see today is beaded. Although I do have some pieces that incorporate beads, I try to stay away from what everyone else is doing. My jewelry is created solely out of sheet and wire. The pieces are soldered together with an acetylene torch. Aside from the chains, each and every part is handcrafted by me so each piece is it’s own work of art. I also create one of kind pieces with unique stones set in sterling silver.

How do you market your jewelry?
Through wholesale and retail shows and online through my website http://www.michelegrady.com/ . Although I have been selling my jewelry for many years, the online store is a whole new thing to me so I am still working on figuring out what works best to promote that. Also word of mouth is a great marketing tool. I have gotten more customers from customer referals than I can count! I pride myself on making a quality product and having good customer service and it definitely pays off.

What advise would you offer someone who is interested in starting his or her own jewelry business?
I say go for it! There is nothing like doing what you love for a living. Just make sure you master your techniques before you sell your work and make sure your pricing is accurate so you make a profit. An artist does not become an artist overnight. It takes lots of practice to become good at anything you do. You don’t want your work coming back to you because it fell apart and you don’t want to short change yourself in the pocket either. You won’t be in business very long if either of those ring true. I also recommend making goals for your business and sticking to them. Nothing feels better than accomplishing the things you set out to do and it’s a great way to make sure your business grows! What is your earliest memory involving jewelry?
When I was about 10 years old or so, I made my very first ring from a piece of copper wire I found in my father’s desk drawer of his basement workshop. I twisted and bent it until my little heart was content. Then with a second piece I made a “matching” one for my little sister. I was very proud of these rings and I wore mine everyday no matter how green the copper turned my finger. Looking back, I know it was then that I fell in love with making jewelry. Little did I know that years later I would still be just as excited to shape wire and metal into beautiful works of wearable art. Those rings were the very first pieces of metal jewelry I ever made and I still have my little copper wire ring to this day. It hangs on the wall on a pushpin next to my workbench in my studio.

Did you have an early interest in design and fashion?
When I was young my sister and I used to hand sew all the clothes for our Barbie dolls. As I got older I loved to dress up my outfits with great accessories and funky shoes. Whether it was jeans and t shirt or a simple little dress my outfit was not complete until it had the right shoes and jewelry. I would shop at flea markets and yard sales with my mom for unusual pieces of jewelry. I loved all the great finds you couldn’t get in the stores and the bigger they were the better, especially the rings. Some of those pieces have been the inspiration for pieces of jewelry that I have created in my own collections.

Where do you see business 5 years from now?
I would like to have a brick and mortar store where I can sell my jewelry along with the work of other artists. Sort of like a fine jewelry store only all the merchandise would be handmade instead of mass produced.

Do you work alone?
Yes, for the past 9 years I have worked alone. Although I am in the process of training someone to help me out at retail shows once in a while but other than that I do all of the work myself. I would eventually like to bring a few more people in down the road.

Were you creative as a child?
Yes. I have been interested in art my entire life. I started out taking drawing and painting classes when I was young and eventually moved on to 3D art (paper mache, pottery & beading) before I stumbled upon my first metal jewelry class.

http://www.michelegrady.com to purchase jewelry and find out about Michelle's classes) and there are also a few articles about Michelle on her site on her press page. Michelle also will be featured in an upcoming book on women and creativity (not sure of the release date or title as of yet. The book is still in the early stages).

1 comment:

  1. I love Michelle's work. I admire other jewelry designers and love to read about them. Great interview!


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