We caught up with the uber talented jewelry designer, Michelle Pajak Reynolds to discuss her trials, triumphs and how she got to NOLCHA Fashion Week and more. If you have not heard of this designer before, you are totally in for a treat. She is simply amazing.
XOXO,Tina Dixon, HFB Blog Contributor
A very Jaded Kisses kinda interview with Michelle Pajak- Reynolds
JK: You started making jewelry as a child, how has your style evolved from then to now? MPR: I began making jewelry at 5 years old and like most designers that age, my designs were craft store copies of pieces I saw on TV shows, like Wonder Woman’s power bracelets worn by actress Lynda Carter, which is what inspired me to become a jeweler. Now, as a designer with 31 years of experience, my designs are haute couture and feature luxurious materials including precious gemstones and metals, Swarovski crystals and fine textiles. My clients collect my designs as works of art.
JK: How did you turn your hobby and doing diy’s into your #1 bread winner?
MPR: Networking and my MBA experience played a huge role in transforming my business into what it has become today and where it will grow in the years to come. I work non-stop and jump on every opportunity that makes sense for my business and goals
JK: Why did you decide to major in business instead of taking the design school route?
MPR: I’ve always wanted to have my own jewelry business and launch an eponymous line. I studied jewelry, metalsmithing, art and marketing at Kent State University earning my BFA degree in 2001. After working at other organizations for years, while building my business on the side, I decided that in order to achieve my goals I needed to make a greater investment in my business and entrepreneurial skills. I went back to school in 2010 and earned an MBA in Entrepreneurship from Baldwin Wallace University in 2012.
JK: What inspires you?
MPR: Avant-garde fashion and design and nature
JK: What is your regular season of design like from start to runway finish? MPR: I design and handcraft every piece from start to finish, so a new collection can require a year or more to complete. Once I decide on a concept and have some initial sketches in place, I begin working with my photographer, Pat Jarrett, and stylist, Carmel Clavin to discuss lookbook photo shoots and styling for the events and publications showcasing my work. Our creative discussions help me get out of my head and guide my design and editing decisions. Once everything is ready for the runway, I work collaboratively with the hair and make-up artists, DJ and show producers to share the story of my collection and showcase each piece to its best advantage.
JK: What does your off-season look like?
MPR: I’m always designing and researching so there is no off-season for me.
JK: What sets your designs apart from the sea of other designers in your field?
MPR: My designs are bold one-of-a-kind works of art that blur the line between apparel and jewelry and help my clients manifest their unique sense of style.
JK: You’ve done NOLCHA fashion week and several others, where do you go from there?
MPR: NOLCHA Fashion Week is a wonderful platform for my work. Their dedication and support for independent designers is the best in the industry, so I intend to debut new collections with them for quite some time. As my business grows, I would love to partner with designers showing at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and London, Paris and Milan’s Fashion Weeks too.
JK: What other designers or artist brings out the total fan in you? What is it about them that you enjoy? MPR: Alexander McQueen is my hero and I adore the work of Iris Van Herpen. They are fearless in their approach to materials, design and craftsmanship. What they do in clothes is what I strive for in my jewelry.
JK: What makes you tick? MPR: Art, fashion, and design
JK: How did you get into your local market? MPR: Networking with my local professional business groups and public speaking.
JK: How would you define your personal style? MPR: Contemporary
JK: How do you stay relevant? MPR: I listen to my clients and pay attention to what is happening in the world.
JK: What do you do when inspiration isn’t flowing? How do you relax?
MPR: I take my dog for a walk or listen to music while I scroll through Pinterest or my library of jewelry, fashion, and design books. I don’t get much downtime, but whenever I can steal a few moments I enjoy curling up on the couch with a great publication and my dog and cat and a cup of hot tea.
JK: When did you discover your signature style as a designer?
MPR: When I stopped trying to emulate other designers and embraced who I am and what inspired me on a deep level.
JK: How is your personal style reflected in your collections from season to season?
MPR: I consider jewelry to be season-less heirlooms and a piece should reflect one’s mood and who they want to be on a given day. When I design, I focus on what’s happening now, not the season, and each piece in my collections is a design that I would enjoy wearing.
JK: What kept you from succumbing to the pressure of naysayers in your life?
MPR: Constructive feedback is one thing and it can be very helpful, but there are a lot of people out there who enjoy being naysayers and toxic dream crushers. I don’t give them much thought anymore. In the beginning, their negativity would have me upset and frustrated, but as I got older I realized that I didn’t need the naysayers to see and believe in my vision, because it’s my vision, not theirs.
JK: What advice would you give the next generation of designers?
MPR: Be patient, persistent and network. A career in fashion doesn't happen overnight, it takes years to master the creative and business skills and build the network needed to have longevity in the field.
JK: Where do you see yourself in the next 20 years?
MPR: So much can happen in 20 years. I see myself doing what I love surrounded with amazing creative people and working side by side with a wonderful team in my studio to bring joy to others through my jewelry on a global scale.
JK: Where do you typically shop? Are there places more mainstream or indie type stores?
MPR: I’m a boutique shopper and seek out one of kind pieces in both apparel and accessories.
JK: What time period of fashion do you most relate to? Why?
MPR: I appreciate the designs of all fashion periods, but the one I relate to most is what is happening right now, because I’m living it.