Urban Ellegance Handcrafted Jewelry, LLC is blooming business of earthy, modern jewelry run solely by one crafty and ambitious lady, Tameka “Meedy Meek” Navarro. Navarro is a spontaneous combustion of doing, inspiring, learning, and fulfilling – seemingly all at once. Her colorful collection of accessories includes earrings, bracelets, necklaces and specialty statement pieces made from materials such as crystals, beads, metal and feathers – all handmade with a meticulousness that can only be born of passion.
While you can view and order the entire collection online, the eclectic line has been gaining momentum in recent months with appearances in local fashion shows and jewelry boutiques in both Atlanta and Richmond, VA. From the varied earring and bracelet sets in the “Urban Ellegance Classic” collection, to whimsical feathered creations in the “Ruffle Some Feathers” series, to the dazzling, oversized “Shamballa Hoops,” there is something for every fashion-forward lady. Navarro is not only the creator and designer of these striking pieces, she is also the distribution manager, marketing director, and chief administrator. I sat down with the entrepreneur to learn how she got started, how she keeps going, and where she gets inspiration for those dramatic feathered earrings.
Miss A: Let’s start at the beginning – tell me about the inception of Urban Ellegance.
MM: I really feel like Urban Ellegance was a gift from God. I was laid off of my job in November 2008 and I had a lot of time to do some much-needed self evaluating and assessing. I have always been a Jill of many trades, but I wanted to do something [where] I could show constant progression. I learned the basics of jewelry making as a kid, and after a trip to an arts and craft store (intended to occupy my nephew), I walked down the bead aisle and it was like the missing piece to the puzzle.
Miss A: You started out primarily with beaded earring and bracelet sets – but now your line features a wide variety of styles and includes necklaces, cuffs and other statement pieces – describe your creative evolution.
MM: I would say my line evolved when I stepped outside of “my box.” I saw that I was getting great reviews and people were starting to buy [my jewelry], but I didn’t want to be stuck making the same things over and over again. So I figured if I kept creating and slowly making changes, people would take notice and even look back at my previous work. I wanted to also make transitional jewelry that would be liked by the 16- 25 [age] demographic but also grown and sexy enough for 25 and up. So Urban Ellegance is really about the evolution and transformation that most women go through from a young lady wanting to express herself, to the exclusivity that an older woman looks for when shopping for accessories and clothing.
Miss A: The design of your jewelry is strong and bold, yet beautiful and feminine. Is this the type of woman you have in mind when designing your pieces? Or is this more a reflection of yourself?
MM: Yes, I design for the woman who dares to be different. I think it is also a good representation of me. I am urban, but my elegance comes through femininity. Even if I am wearing sneakers, the right accessories and jeans cut say everything without you having to say a word.
Miss A: Describe a couple of your collections and what makes each unique.
MM: My feather collection, affectionately called “Ruffle some Feathers,” is one of my favorites. It came to me at a time when I needed to transition to something else. I always strive to be a trendsetter, but you have to know who your target market is, and I knew that mine wanted [feathered earrings]. I saw what I felt was missing from the trend and started researching different types of feathers and looking for wild colors. Since I’ve always admired wire wrapped jewelry I thought that would be an elegant addition.
My latest designs are “Shamballa Hoops.” The “Shamballa Bracelet” has been a very popular and attractive trend and it has crossed genders. Since I am known mostly for handcrafted jewelry, people expected me to make them. Instead I noticed that people were making earrings with the beads used in the bracelet and again, I had an idea. Why not use the same design on a hoop? All women love hoops! I researched and couldn’t find anything remotely close to what I envisioned, so I felt like it was time to introduce it and [the earrings] have been a big hit! And they also give me a chance to use beads, which are my first love!
Miss A: I also love the “Ruffle Some Feathers” collection – the colors are so vibrant and the styling so whimsical and unique – where do you find inspiration?
MM: Thank you! It was hard in the beginning; I went out and bought tons of eyeshadow pallets and tried different color combinations. After I created my own techniques for crafting them I decided to just let the feathers’ colors guide me. Peacock feathers (which are my fav) have such deep, regal colors. I love pairing them with the most unlikely of colors and using colors that enhance them.
Miss A: Right now you’re a one-woman show: creative design, order fulfillment, marketing, plus your home life and other interests – how do you balance it all?
MM: I still don’t know. LOL! I try to find ways to work smarter not harder and I have a great husband who supports and encourages me, and that goes a long way. My family is also very supportive as well. They are always down to help. You know you have a great team when people come to the table with something – i.e ideas, connections, advertising, sales and money. This is a very expensive endeavor and everything counts.
Miss A: I’ve followed your company’s growth primarily on social media – do you find this to be your most effective marketing tool?
MM: Yes! I believe in the power of social networking. It works if you know how to work it!
Miss A: You’ve done some fashion and trade shows in the past – do you have any future shows planned?
MM: Yes, I was asked by photographer Cornelius James Lewis of N3k Photography to participate in his next show in 2012. I’m still pondering what to design; his shows are standing room only and really over the top!
Miss A: What’s next for Urban Ellegance?
MM: The sky is the limit! I plan on moving towards not just handcrafted jewelry, but also jewelry that fits in with my vision for the Urban Ellegance brand. I love what I do and even if I didn’t make another dollar, I’d still make jewelry and create in some form. It would be ideal to design for big-name celebrities, but I’m satisfied with making my clients happy right now and that they support me as much as they do.
Look for Urban Ellegance Handcrafted Jewelry at I-kandie Boutique in East Atlanta Village and The Jewelry Box in Richmond, VA. View the entire collection and order online at Facebook, and stay tuned for a jewelry party and the relaunch of www.urbanellegance.com in early 2012!