Teaneck-born designer Melanie White is revamping the way you wear jewelry, making your experience with each fabulous piece a little more personal.
The 30-year-old entrepreneur, who runs her business in New York’s midtown jewelry district, knew early on she wanted to transform her passion for accessories into a career. She started Melanie Marie soon after she graduated from Hampton University in Virginia. Handcrafted jewelry and bags are her specialty, including sleek ear cuffs and engraved name plates to couture bags and medical alert tags and even necklaces in the shape of New Jersey and the New York City skyline. Melanie’s products come in 14K gold, 14K rose gold, sterling silver and gold-plated and range in price from $15 to $260 for a solid gold baby bracelet and up to $1,725 for custom name 14K gold dogtags.
You might have already seen a few celebrities rocking her collection like Beyoncé‘s personal stylist Ty Hunter, actress Keshia Knight Pulliam, Mob Wives star Renee Graziano, singer August Alsina, Academy Award-winning actor and rapper Common and many more!
The new mom (who had her first baby just a few months ago), is also giving back with her Gem & Jewels mentorship and arts education program for young girls ages 10-18.
Read our fun chat to learn more about this awesome girl boss:
When did you realize you wanted to start a jewelry line?
I always had a love for accessories. As a kid I loved this ring my parents gave me when I was 5. It was a gold ring that says “Love” and has a diamond in the o. I still have it now. It can only fit my pinky finger.
How did you go about starting your business?
I decided what I wanted to do then I researched how to begin a business. I continued to research the field I wanted to go in and how to find manufacturers. I looked up everything I needed to make my business legit. After I had all the necessary tools I needed to start, I began to get busy. I contacted a web designer to make my first website and a photographer to take pics of my products. Then I got to work! The main hardship I faced in the beginning was making sure I had enough capital.
What inspires a new collection?
I can get inspiration by just walking down a busy street. I see all types of styles, colors, patterns that inspire new ideas.
What separates your jewelry from you competitors?
A lot of my jewelry is handmade. The quality of my jewelry is great and I have numerous styles to choose from. I prefer working with solid gold because it lasts forever and looks great. I’m more of a gold vs silver kind of girl. 🙂
If you had to wear one piece from your line for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I would wear the Squeeze me cuff and the simple script nameplate. I love them both and they go great with anything.
If you could collaborate with any celebrity, who would it be?
I would love to collaborate with Rihanna. I love her edgy style and I think it would be awesome. I love Rihanna! She is beautiful, talented, stylish and seems like she knows how to enjoy life.
Why do you think accessories are so important in fashion?
Accessories are like the icing on the cake 🙂 they can jazz up any outfit. They add pizzazz. An outfit can be plain and simple but when a statement piece of jewelry is added, it can transform the outfit.
Congratulations on becoming a mother! Your daughter is beautiful! Describe motherhood in three words?
Thank you! Rewarding, miraculous, underestimated.
Was she the inspiration for your collection of baby jewelry?
I already made items for children but didn’t advertise it that much. When she was born I wanted to make a line dedicated to the kids. I also wanted to create something that my daughter will be able to take over one day.
Did you experience ‘mom guilt’ when you returned back to work?
I did not. I’m home with her everyday. She comes with me when I have to do my work, so no mom guilt over here, LOL.
What advice would you offer women trying to start their own business?
I would tell women to stay determined and to see it through. Make sure you don’t give up and listen to the critics. Starting a business is hard work and requires a lot of dedication. Be sure to define your brand. Find a mentor and network with Like minded people. Know your market. Be sure you can reel off your businesses current finances and financial needs. Prepare to work harder than ever.
Do you consider yourself a role model for black women?
I believe it’s extremely important to have diverse female business leaders so all women can have someone to look up to. Women can have someone to relate to. Someone that knows their struggle.
What’s next for your brand?
I would love to add a shoe line under my belt. I’m also launching a mommy and me blog where I will discuss products we love, personal stories and tips from my personal experiences. So stay tuned!