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Michelle comes from a family of Jewelers dating back to 1930, from Antwerp, Belgium.
Yet with her own sense of style, she has created a collection of unique crossover designs that are very distinctive and are loved by women everywhere.
We wanted to know more about Michelle and her ability to define women’s sense of style, individual taste and personal passions through her pieces. So, we asked Michelle a few questions to get to know her better.
Q: You speak about being inspired by the women in your life. Tell us more about their influence on your designs.
A: I wanted to create a line that appeals to all the women in my life – regardless of age, personal style or profession. These women are in such different but important life stages, and I wanted to create a line that speaks to all of them.
A successful jewelry line needs to offer something for everyone – the new mom who wears only a pair of earrings or a single necklace, the new college grad who’s entering her first job and wants “transitional” jewelry pieces that are suitable both in the workplace and for post-work cocktails, or the grandmother in a position to invest in a more substantial piece of jewelry.
Q: Celebrities gravitate to your unique pieces. They can afford most anything they want, so why do you believe they choose Barbela Designs? What does your collection say to them that draws them to your line?
A: Celebrities are around fashion quite a bit and get the chance to play around with different styles, but when it comes to their own personal style, they want jewelry that’s much more wearable and simple. We sometimes forget that celebrities are parents who run errands just like us, so they want jewelry that’s easy and light to wear. I think that’s why they gravitate toward my line, which offers delicate, well-made pieces that are still fashionable and trendy.
Q: We love your reference to the power of femininity. Please tell us more about what that means to you and how it is reflected in your collection.
A: For a long time, jewelry was designed by men for women, and they would design for what they thought women wanted or what they wanted to see women wear, with no thought as to whether the piece was comfortable or practical for a woman. That’s why we are seeing more women design jewelry, and it’s extremely empowering to see how they define both their jewelry and their femininity.
Femininity can be defined in so many ways. My personal definition is embracing your own identity and doing what makes you feel good. That can be applied to fashion, work or just overall life choices. I think reclaiming the concept of femininity is powerful, and I do that through my jewelry and creating pieces that include female symbolism such as moons, stars and even daisies.
Q: How do you know when you have created a piece that women will love?
A: I am very lucky that I have a great sounding board for my new pieces. When they say it “takes a village,” they aren’t lying! Anytime I have new pieces, I send photos out to my friends, some personal and some professional. They all come from all different walks of life and each has their own distinct style and taste – some are new moms, while others are business school students – so what they look for in jewelry really runs the gamut. If they all say they love a piece, then I consider it a victory.
Q: Where will you go next to get inspired for a new collection?
A: I haven’t released anything new due to COVID, so I have some fun things in store for later this summer. The collection will incorporate fun colors and geometric shapes – playful, but still wearable! I’ll be focused more on earrings in this upcoming collection.
Q: What can we expect next from Barbela Design?
A: I really love using color in my pieces, so I hope to explore more with semi-precious stones. I’m also into layers and stacking my earrings and necklaces, so you’ll see more pieces that can be paired together to create a fun earring look. I personally have four piercings in each ear, so there is a lot of real estate to cover. So, I always try to make pieces that can be mixed and matched, so definitely more of that.
Q: What do you love most about the company you are building?
A: I love that I get to be part of a customer’s jewelry narrative. It’s amazing and flattering to me that someone will purchase a jewelry piece from me that I created with their hard-earned money. This piece can be the first gift that a person gives to their partner, it could be a push present for a first-time mom, or even a wedding band for a newly married couple. It’s so amazing to me that Barbela gets to play a small role, and that they thought that something I thought of was special enough to be included in their jewelry narrative.