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Conversations with the Inspiring Michelle Bernat

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Bernat.

Michelle, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I have always loved all the hand stamped jewelry that I saw in boutiques! And who hasn’t thought I could do that! Haha… I learned quickly that it wasn’t quite as easy as it looks but I loved the process!

I started stamping local beach and surf spots and gifting them to friends and family. They were happily received but I thought they were just being nice.

Then, my husband said, “You need to sell these!” It was the most terrifying experience asking someone to carry my designs in their store! And the biggest HIGH when they said yes!

I was working as an RN in Cosmetic Surgery at the time. I loved my coworkers and the free Botox but hated going to work. My brave husband finally agreed I should not work as a nurse anymore. That was the beginning of taking this a little more seriously. I started selling in more local shops, opened an Etsy account and am now working on my web site!

Since then, my jewelry and I have definitely evolved! Sometimes, I see someone wearing one of my earlier more “rustic” pieces and it shocks me that people liked it even back then! I am still learning and hope to never stop…

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Not one step of the road is smooth folks!
The bumps include but are not limited to confidence, talent, finances, and fear.

I think the biggest struggle I’ve had was not thinking I was good enough. Being a creative is an interesting process. You make something you love but then you have to go out in the world as ask other people to love it too.

My husband and I have a favorite poster about the creative process. It goes like this:

THE CREATIVE PROCESS:
1. This is awesome.
2. This is tricky.
3. This is shit.
4. I am shit.
5. This might be ok.
6. This is awesome!

The best advice I can give to young women starting out is to do what you love! It might be science or business or some art form. So many people think there is only one path. College is great but not for everyone. Why didn’t I take any art classes?? The obstacles have been considerable but the rewards have been fulfilling. Wish I would’ve started making jewelry earlier but hey I’m doing it now!

What should we know about Bernatti Designs? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Calling it work makes me laugh.

Let’s see… if I have to describe what I do I would say I design and create a high-quality small batch and custom jewelry. I heard someone say “Modern Heirlooms” and I love that! I have been told I should concentrate on one item but truth be told I can’t. I am currently in love with the ring making process, but still makes a lot of other necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.

I am proud of being mostly self-taught. I have taken a class here and there but mostly I watch YouTube videos and learn by good ole trial and error. I save every mistake I have ever made in a giant glass jar as a reminder.

I really enjoy making custom pieces for people. My customers are constantly challenging my skills.
The creative process is a little bit supernatural. Every time I learn a new technique or create an especially beautiful piece it honestly feels like magic. I am always amazed at people who trust me to make something special for them.

It doesn’t feel right for me to say what sets me apart from others, but hopefully, something does. My jewelry and I are perfectly imperfect. Maybe that’s what it is.

For good reason, society often focuses more on the problems rather than the opportunities that exist, because the problems need to be solved. However, we’d probably also benefit from looking for and recognizing the opportunities that women are better positioned to capitalize on. Have you discovered such opportunities?
I feel like there are actually so many more opportunities for women today in the workforce and in the emerging “mommy market.” With the popularity of Pinterest, Etsy and Blogs women are able to use their creative skills and run a small business from home.

For women who want to stay home and raise their families, there are still many opportunities. It seems like the old fashioned arts like knitting, cooking, crafting, macrame is having renaissance which I love! The 80s and 90s were all about women having careers. Now, we have a choice! Careers or Creative Side Hustles while raising families.

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