I’ve been making jewelry my whole life - basically, I’ve been beading since I was a kid. After I graduated from college, I was working at a hair salon doing random front table work, and my mom asked me, “What do you want to do now with your life? You seem pretty unhappy." And I was. I actually just wanted to make jewelry so I found this place in Mexico called Sterling Quest where you can go there for as long as you want, and this guy teaches you everything you need to know. It was really affordable because I couldn’t afford to take classes in San Francisco and also pay my rent. I was able to go there for 6 months, and it was only $200/mth. You would get a full bench and a key to the studio so you could come into class everyday and just work. It was a really great opportunity to sit down with myself and try something new and take risks. I was in another country, I didn’t speak the language, and it was a lot of changes all at once, but I came out of it being very sure that I wanted to make jewelry as a career.
Part of my journey as well has been that I had gotten to the point where I had been working for myself for 4 years, and then I woke up one day and was like, "I don’t want to do this anymore." That was in September 2019. I turned 30 that August, and I don’t know what happened, but I really wanted to just start painting. I bought a canvas and I started painting, and the difference between the two [ jewelry ] just felt really healing to me. I just needed to take a break and let my mind just take over. I feel like I’m betraying myself a little bit because I spent so long on this journey to become a jeweler, but then at the same time I want to put just as much energy into something new.
I talked to my friend Mary who does Tarot readings, and she did a reading for me recently. She basically said that I just have a voice and I have things I want to say to reach as many people as I can, and naturally I would want to try to do this in as many mediums as possible. So I’m just kind of taking that in. We’ll see what happens, but I’m enjoying it.
I’ve been a creative person my entire life, and it just happens to be that I make my living off of jewelry, but I can do whatever I want to do, and that shouldn’t be killed. I’m so grateful for everything that I’ve been able to accomplish and all the people who have supported me, and I hope that those people support my growth in other ways as well. Ultimately, my main vision and goal in life is to live authentically and encourage other people to completely live authentically as well. Hopefully, by them seeing me do this, they can think, oh maybe there are other things I’d really like to try in my life that I haven’t gotten a chance to do yet and then do it.
- Soleé Darrell