We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Kopacz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michelle, what matters most to you?
A person’s character is the most important principle to me. Being honest and trustworthy and dependable all add up to good characteristics in a human being. Doing what you say you’ll do, keeping open lines of communication, showing up…I truly believe that if you are good just to be good it will all work out in the end.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I began making jewelry when I was around 11 years old. I loved working with crystals, polymer clay, and leather. I remember taking my store-bought jewelry apart to see how it was put together, then reconnect everything going the opposite way. Of course I would add my own little flair onto my finished pieces to show everyone that This Is MY Art (well at least a collab at that time anyway).
I would always give my handmade jewelry away, always wanting to share the love. Even still I adorn my friends and family (and sometimes even strangers) with gifts of jewelry.
When I was in college I became pregnant and my creativity surged throughout my body. I vigorously began making and selling my jewelry at various markets and parties around. I developed the name Mehalina Jewels because in Polish my nickname is Michelina (which basically means little Michelle – of which my family always calls me). Wanting to keep the name but spell it (kind of) phonetically, I made Mehalina. Of course the Jewels refers to the gems and jewelry.
I get a kick out of selling my jewelry live (either in-person or online) because I love to talk about my creations and answer questions. I get beads from all around the world and I enjoy sharing the stories.
Making and selling jewelry is not all fun and games, however, there are challenges. Knowing what type of jewelry will reach my target audience requires me to be “in the know”. Also, sometimes I will make some jewelry that is gorgeous to me (and I’ve invested time and resources on) only to never sell it and it sit in my storage box for months. I consistently (but accidentally) cut myself with a tool or a finding, spent 3 straight hours trying to thread a needle (and never succeeded), and dropped my entire case filled with thousands of beads and findings outside at a market sale. TWICE. I also take up a lot of space when I am working on my jewelry. Since my house is not too big we all have to share space and I end up setting up and taking down my supplies for a large part of the process.
Despite the few hardships, I need jewelry making in my life. It relieves stress and satisfies my creative itch. I get into zones where I cannot stop creating until I “make all that I can make” and then spend another hour just admiring my recently strung pieces. It’s creative, communal, and relaxing and I am deeply grateful to have this outlet.
Ok that’s me in a nutshell.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
(Ok so imagine no pandemic)
We would definitely go to the beach (Venice, Playa, Malibu, Dockweiler) and enjoy the gorgeous west coast.
We would also visit Disneyland and experience the rides and yummy treats.
We would also go to The Grove (because it kind of reminds me of a little Disneyland?) and catch a movie, indulge in makeup at Sephora, and eat delicious fried chicken sandwiches in the Farmer’s Market! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to thank my creative cousin Erica for introducing me to jewelry making when I was about 11 and she 8. She doesn’t know if but she opened up a whole world to me.
Also to my supportive mom Lorna and my amazing sisters who would spend tireless hours and countless dollars at the bead store scouring the tables for beautiful new crystals with me. AND always give me honest feedback with my jewelry AND would model my pieces for advertising AND accept payment in jewelry!
Lastly to my patient husband, kids, and dog (Jove & the crew) who always know to “not touch mommy’s beads” while I have completely taken over the dining room table creating me newest pieces of art.
You all are my inspiration and my guide.
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Michelle Kopacz Shamir Rahim