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In celebration of Fashion Week, Seek is pleased to highlight several of the unique brands and businesses which make the fashion industry tick. Check back every few days for a new Q&A!
In today’s Q&A, we introduce you to Mariagrazia Stellino, the jewelry designer and founder of Stellino Jewels. Stellino Jewels’ collections are inspired by the warmness and the colors of Sicily, and are handmade with a strong attention to detail.
Read on to learn more about Mara and Stellino Jewels, and be sure to visit her website, too!
Q: What is your background? How did you get your start in design?
A: I’ve always had a great passion for playing and working with small things. When I was in middle high school, I loved to attend art classes and I used to create huge mosaics using colorful rice grains.
At 19, when I had to choose what kind of university to attend, I was naturally attracted to a fashion, arts and design university. So I studied arts, history of design and fashion for 3 years in Palermo, Sicily and in 2008, I graduated with a practical and theoretical thesis about “Red Coral and its Traditions.”
Q: What inspired you to start your business?
A: After my graduation, I started working in an amazing fine jewelry factory in my hometown. I worked as a wax carver first and as a CAD designer after. But my interest in craftwork and manual arts was begging me to return to the bench. So in 2009, curious and fascinated by the marvelous world of jewelry, with the help of a goldsmith, good friend of my family, I started to dabble in the goldsmithing arts and decided to open my modest workshop and gallery in my hometown.
Q :Where do you gather inspiration for your designs?
A: My inspiration for my designs is the flourishing and one-of-a-kind nature and the history of my beloved Sicily, where I was born and raised. Warm and crystal waters surround my Sicily, a sparkling diamond perfectly set in the Mediterranean Sea. My collections are inspired by the colors of my homeland: green, red, turquoise, blue, white, black…
Q: What future projects are you excited about?
A: About 2 years ago, I randomly worked on a movie set in Sicily for a couple of weeks and on Valentine’s Day, I met the love of my life. We spent beautiful moments together! But after the movie finished, he went back to New York and all we could do to keep our love alive was talking through the internet. After endless Skype chats and a huge number of texting messages and emails, I visited him in New York last summer and I fell crazy in love with this wonderful city. After this trip I decided to pack all my stuff and get a one way ticket to New York. So my next project is bringing my brand to the US and establishing my business in NYC…and marry my lovely fiance!!!
Q: Who is your target customer?
A: I love to design bold, colorful, statement pieces for all sorts of women, but I also like to create fresh, easy to wear jewelry, made for teenagers and young girls. I always create different collections for different types of women. But my target customer is a woman with a strong character, who dedicates her life to her own business and family. A woman who shows her femininity, both when she brings kids to school on Louboutin high heels or even when she wears gym suit and sneakers, pulling a cart at the supermarket.
Q: What are your favorite pieces from your collection/line?
A: Naturally I love every piece of my collections. But of course I have my favorites!!! One piece that I’m very affected by is my very first creation, that made me realize that I wanted to be a jewelry designer, a necklace that I made for my university thesis. The other piece I love is called “Red Passion” and it’s a 3 strands red coral necklace that reminds me the warmness of my Sicily and the strength of its people.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
A: When I created my first jewel for my university thesis, I decided that my aim would be to create only one-of-a-kind pieces to worship the uniqueness of every woman as human being! “Because every woman deserves to feel unique” is my motto!
Q: What is your creative process?
A: I always start with an idea that suddenly pops into my mind. I usually get inspiration from the nature. Everything around me is inspiring! As soon as I can, I make a few sketches to figure out what I want the final product to be. I love to mix elegant, simple, smooth shapes with strong, bold colors.
When I get to the final sketch, the design that I love the most, I sit at my bench and start to create the real piece with my own hands and tools.Depending on the piece I want to realize, the creation process takes from a few hours up to a few days.
I’ve been working as a jewelry designer and goldsmith for about 7 years but it’s always amazing and stunning seeing how something you had just imagined, now you can touch it and wear it! And you are the only one on the earth wearing that jewel! I guess it’s a nice feeling! And every time I sell one of my creations, I hope to transmit the same emotion that I feel.
Q: What are the most important aspects to consider when designing your pieces?
A: When I design a collection there’s an essential aspect that I consider.
I’d love my art to reflect myself and my sunny character. My Sicily is inside all my jewels. Smooth and simple shapes remind its peaceful and quite nature during a sunny day. Strong and vibrant colors remind the wildness of its volcano and the strength of its people.
Q:What sets your brand apart from other similar labels?
A: There’s a lot of jewelry brands nowadays, similar labels to compete with. And it’s getting even harder to compete with the huge global market that works mostly with quantity and big numbers. My aim has always been “making one-of-a-kind jewels for one-of-a-kind women” and I’m pretty sure that, as long as I keep working with this purpose, my brand will have something so special and unique!
Q:Where can customers purchase your products?
A: Customers can visit my personal website www.stellinojewels.com to view all my collections. They can purchase my one-of-a-kind creations on my Etsy shop and on my new Zibbet shop.
For custom orders, feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
After maintaining a presence in New York City for the past sixteen years, Insiders1 recently opened their first brick-and-mortar shop in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg. We were pleased to get a sneak peek at the new store during last night’s press party!
Insiders1 creates unique bags and accessories, all utilizing NYC-themed collages and urban photography. The company is the brainchild of artists Sigal DeMayo and Fabio Otalora. Their products are made and printed by hand in the Brooklyn Navy Yard utilizing the finest materials and expert craftsmanship.
Want to visit the shop in person? You can find them at 231 Grand Street (between Driggs and Roebling) in Brooklyn. The store is open every day from 12-8 PM. You can also visit their website to browse products online.
Receive a 10% discount when you visit the shop during a North Brooklyn Shopping Tour with Seek!