S O U L S P E A K
A Word on Me
I’m Michelle, the designer and artist behind AVILLA. I'm originally from New Orleans but currently call the magical lands of California home. I live in Los Angeles with my other-half, Chris, and our cat (but let's be real--our child) Rou. When I'm not in my studio, I'm usually traveling, practicing yoga, thrifting, or getting my nature fix in the mountains or at the beach.
I began making and selling jewelry back in New Orleans in 2012 (shoutout to those who remember “Michelle’s Market” on Etsy), but AVILLA really began to take hold when I took my first metalsmithing course in 2015. Diving into the alchemy of metalwork left me with an insatiable hunger to create. It was then that I decided to make the decision to forgo pursuing my career in medicine, something that wasn't right for me at the time, and pursue a life in art instead. (I bet a lot of your are wondering my sign. I'm learning from my astrologically-inclined friends I am a pretty stereotypical Gemini). Shortly after completing the course, I packed up my belongings and headed for the uncharted lands of the west coast, craving to explore a new land and dedicate my days to this new art form.
A Word on Growth:
If you look at the AVILLA Instagram feed over the last year, I’m sure you’ll notice the steady evolution of my work. Instagram allows you to witness my growth on an almost daily basis. If you've followed along since the beginning, you know I did not start as a clearly defined brand. Instead, it has been a thoughtful, organic cultivation of my art followed by the formation of a brand I identify with. From my collections Alchemy and Celestial to my current work, I realize there is a lot of variation. The last few years have been transformative, allowing me to hone in on my and aesthetic and inspirations. So, thank you for following along no matter what direction I go in.
As for my latest collection, it unfolded after a lengthy creative block. I realized I was designing for wholesale, only making pieces that were marketable and easily reproducible. It left me feeling restricted and uninspired. Needing to reconnect, I took some time to reflect on the materials that excited me. I found myself drawn to what originally inspired me--the natural materials, intricate beadwork, and organic textures of ancient adornments. Combining elements of metal fringe and linear motifs with natural beads of horn, shell, and bone, each piece embodies a marriage of modern and ancient form that speaks to my soul and hopefully to yours too.
Not only do the ancients inspire my jewelry, they inspire my production. They are the ultimate model of sustainability, only using what materials were available to them, working with natural elements, and creating as an act of thoughtful devotion. With this in mind, I constantly look for new ways to reduce my ecological footprint, promote sustainability, and embody conscious small-scale production. I believe in local production of quality goods. I believe in my art as a form of prayer, a sacred offering to Spirit. Currently, all packaging is earth friendly, and all materials used in my studio are recycled when possible. I use reusable rags over paper towels and choose natural chemicals when available.
READING: The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
LISTENING: Oprah's Super Soul Conversation with Elizabeth Gilbert
LIVING: "I don't have to succeed. Succeeding means answering the question--following the quest wherever it ends." ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
NOURISHING: Golden Milk (morning latte of unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk turmeric, coconut oil, and dash of finely ground black pepper)
LOVING: My Mojave Mug from @urthenware
With exciting change on the horizon, I’m grateful to you all for joining me on this ever-evolving journey. I hope these newsletters and blogs help you connect more to the story behind AVILLA.
After all, to me, this is about more than just art. It’s about the connection art inspires.