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Conversations with the Inspiring Michelle Gulden

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

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Making jewelry has been a craft of mine, probably going back to friendship bracelets as a kid! I was the friend in high school that made all the bead and hemp necklaces, so crafting jewelry has always been a part of me. A concert in my early 20s randomly set off a chain of events that led to jack & ginger.

A band was selling guitar pick earrings at a concert and being a recent college grad, I clearly didn’t funds to spend on little pieces of plastic and thought “I can make my own”. My dad, being a musician, had tons of them at home, so low and behold, I bought the findings I would need, learned to wire wrap from the sweet lady that owned the store, and got to make my own. That pair led to a friend wanting a pair, to another wanting to buy a pair, to me creating necklaces, earrings, and bracelets from Fender guitar picks. I would customize the colors and styles and found myself hosting a giveaway in Seventeen Magazine! From there, I started to really create with stones and metals and created the foundation that jack & ginger grew on.

Moving to Oahu created a whole new tone to my jewelry, pushed my limits with learning to solder and create shapes. Hunting for shells and glass became my favorite new beach activity and the treasure hunt was so rewarding, providing me with gorgeous natural adornments for my jewelry. I gained my following there, and with the help of Instagram, local boutiques found me and I’ve developed beautiful relationships with the amazing women that run the stores carrying my items.

Moving to San Diego last year, I found myself going back to my so-called “roots” of natural gemstones and finding new textiles to work with. I love following the local Instagrammers to see their fashion style and get a sense of what the San Diegan fashionistas are looking for.

I’ve recently started exploring a new art medium with resin and inks, which has been a fun adventure and a new creative outlet. I’m hoping to incorporate the two and see what I’m able to do. I’ve been incredibly lucky to continue adding retailers that carry my line and I’m excited about the future!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Nooooo. I don’t believe anyone that says it’s easy. Ha! Starting up your own venture is HARD work. I’m at a stage where I do it all myself. I think people tend to forget all the pieces that have to come together. I’m not only the one making the pieces, but I have to spend the time finding items either online or at trade shows, researching prices, trends, market demographics, photographing the pieces, handling the financial aspect and then marketing. I’d love to pass off some tasks to another, but creating your own business is serious work and you have to be dedicated.

There are times, I’m exhausted and I want to take a break, but I make little goals for myself and then allow time for rest. My line is something I’m very proud of and it still wows me when I see orders come through and I hope that feeling never changes! For those struggling or starting out, you have to know it’s going to take work. You will cry, you will get frustrated, but you’ll also have great joys and moments of being really PROUD of yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and just remind yourself why you began this journey in the first place. 🙂

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into jack & ginger story. Tell us more about the business.
First off, I like to make connections with my buyers. My jewelry is all made to order, so each piece is made for YOU. I love when people share why they’re choosing a certain item, or what their custom order means to them. As cheesy as it may sound, that aspect adds to the process. Based on conversations with my buyers, they seem to enjoy it too and their repeat business makes me believe it.

I am proud that every single shell or glass put on my jewelry is found by me. I love the whole process of the hunt and am very selective in the shells and glass I keep. I want my customer to have the best possible options and like to offer them a selection so the experience is as personal as I can make it. I want each customer to know the heart that goes into each item.

My specialty over the years is broad, but a top seller for me is my MerWave Bangle. Years ago, a friend asked if I could create something for her and after weeks of searching, I found what I needed and the bangle was born. It’s been going strong for about 5 years now and I’m very proud of the influence it’s had on other jewelers.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
I think it’s an unfortunate truth that not everyone is open to female power in business. I am very lucky to live in a time of empowerment where both sexes are rooting for the same cause, but we may still be in the minority. Women are put into certain categories of where they should be successful but it IS changing. We just need to remain persistent and just keep on keepin’ on! Don’t let it hold you back and just keep going.

Pricing:

  • Jewelry – ranging from $20-$100+
  • Resin Art – ranging from teens – $75+

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

2 Comments

  1. Shane Lawler

    July 17, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story about such a beautiful soul. I am very fortunate to have met Michelle and feel that she is an amazing person. The energy around her is always good and I feel like anyone with a connection to her will be lifted to a better place. Each item she creates is unique and holds some of her personality. If your life needs more joy, smiles, adventure, creativity, laughter, a little bit of a rockstar, some crazy urge to do something different, positive energy, a sense of self, inner peace, inspiration, focus, bliss, or some awe and wonder to your life, you owe it to yourself to pick up one of her pieces.

  2. Jen Snow

    July 18, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    Michelle rocks and her jewelry is amazing! I bought my first piece from her about 6 years ago and I still love it! Of the 3 pieces of jewelry that I wear daily, jack n ginger proudly sits on my fingers and makes me feel beautiful! This mermaid’s jewelry just makes me happy! And she does, too 💗 Go Michelle! 🥂

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