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Meet R. Melinda Hoffman of ModernMuse61 in Point Loma

Today we’d like to introduce you to R. Melinda Hoffman.

R. Melinda, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Studying Fashion Design at The Art Institute of Chicago, I was hired as a children’s wear designer in the 80’s. The best part of my job was traveling throughout Europe several times a year to attend fashion shows and to research fashion trends.

On these trips, I was mentored by my boss to travel efficiently with only a small carry-on for the two-week stints. Hopping from Italy to France to Germany to Denmark, we easily navigated planes, trains, and buses. Sometimes even forgoing hotels for sleeper cars on trains as we went from city to city. That was where my passion for travel and adventure started, as well as the idea of traveling with very little to give you the most freedom abroad.

In the 1990’s to supplement my income, I began designing and making jewelry out of found objects. I see beauty in the humblest of things. In my travels, I would be scouring flea markets, digging through obscure hardware stores, and even hunting in back alleys and vacant lots to find hidden treasures.

Using old industrial gadgets, antique architectural artifacts, vintage hardware, padlocks, clock parts, automotive parts, and other unusual objects, I would create pieces with a unique story. I called it my Found Object series.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
In 2001, I relocated from Chicago to Scottsdale, Arizona, then 9/11 happened. The years following that, everything changed. Employers filed for bankruptcy or went out of business. I was laid off three times. Twenty-four years of marriage ended in divorce. I started thinking about how my old ideas of job security, stability, and lifestyle had changed. At my lowest point, I found strength to come back even stronger, as I embraced my true self.

While working for a leather company, I taught myself how to make leather accessories to meet the needs of my new life. When I couldn’t find what I wanted in the marketplace, I designed and created what I needed!
On the weekends, I started doing art markets and selling my own designs and accessories. In 2010 modernmuse61 was born.

In 2013, I quit my job, sold my possessions, and moved to San Diego! I took a risk on myself to follow my passion for traveling on the open road. I’m now enjoying my lifestyle as an artisan doing various art shows throughout California, West Coast, Southwest, Midwest, and East Coast. Some say I’m a wandering hippie gypsy, but I prefer to see myself as a hard-working road warrior entrepreneur.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about modernmuse61 – what should we know?
Form must always follow function. Everything I design is multifunctional to suit every need. My International Case not only holds a phone, but also a passport, notebook, credit cards, cash, business cards, lipstick, and even a pen!
My Equestrian Belt can be worn alone, together with the Cell Phone Case, as a crossbody style, or hidden shoulder holster. Perfect for the modern bohemian nomad.

Now with relatively few possessions, I am living a life richly blessed with freedom, travel, and adventure. My next challenge is to design reversible/convertible clothing so I can travel abroad with no luggage… except for my multipurpose cellphone case, convertible belt, and just the clothing on my back!

To me, success is not accumulating wealth, status, or power—but being happy and content with what you have. I’m forever learning, constantly evolving, and with this life thing—I’m just getting started.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My motto as a “Modern Muse” Is “to inspire…and be inspired”

My customers and clients are my mentors, supporters, cheerleaders, and advocates! I have learned so much from just listening to them and hearing their stories. To me, that is why I love doing what I do. It is not really about selling them something, it is about making a real connection. Everything I have in my booth visually stimulates the imagination, facilitates conversations, triggers anecdotes, and tells stories… whether the story is mine or my customers.I guess I like to offer an uplifting experience, that benefits us both! 


  • Leather Cellphone Case $180-$200
  • Leather Convertible Belt $180-$200
  • Architectural Artifact Pendants $42- $98
  • Leather Cuffs $48-$52

Contact Info:

  • Email:
  • Instagram: modernmuse61
  • Facebook: modernmuse61

Image Credit:
Sylvia Hardt Photography

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.

1 Comment

  1. Suzi Hansen

    January 6, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Greetings from Encinitas. I’m ready to travel Arizona, New Mexico. I follow you from place to place.
    What activities and sites are there that you would recommend in Tucson?? New Mexico? I’d like to study Navajo Silver works.
    Any thoughts?

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