What's your business, and who are your customers?
Michele Benjamin - Jewelry Design is a New York-based artist who creates jewelry, sculpture, digital photo prints, and wearable art. My collections are offered in art galleries, cultural institutions, and boutiques in the U.S. and online nationally and internationally, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Bruce Museum Store, Pictor Gallery, on the runway at New York Fashion Week (NYFW), and on Amazon.com.
Collections are certified: “Made in New York” through the New York Economic Development Corporation. I've received commissions from New York City Store, Central Park Conservancy, Battery Park Conservancy, Empowers Africa, The High Line, Roanoke College, Salem, VA, Berkshire Botanical Garden, Stockbridge, MA, Siddhartha School, Ladakh, India, and for Dubai Expo 2020, UAE.
Tell us about yourself
I create nature-inspired and activist jewelry and art. I've been in business since 2011 and began creating sterling silver jewelry in 2013. I am motivated each day by the creativity and sense of accomplishment that comes with creating new and exciting work, participating in the arts community, exhibiting my artwork at Pictor Gallery, Chelsea district, Manhattan, and participating on multiple committees and boards, including Women in the Arts Foundation Inc., Women's Jewelry Association, Mentorship Committee, and Greater NY Chamber of Commerce, Member, and Keynote Speaker.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is having my jewelry shown in Whitney Museum Shop, Bruce Museum Store, Pictor Gallery, NY, where I am an affiliate member, and additional art galleries, boutiques, and cultural institutions nationally and internationally.
Additionally, I create jewelry and art for fundraising and to support causes that provide food and medicine to the underserved. My work is associated with promoting women’s empowerment and wildlife conservation. I taught art and jewelry workshops while serving as Arts Envoy in 2019, in Southeast Asia (Cambodia and Laos), on behalf of the U.S. State Department, in 2020 "Made in NYC" Week (Pratt Institute), and in 2021, as a New York City Artist Corps grant recipient. I was awarded multiple STEP grants (State Trade Expansion Program) from ESD NY Global NY with Gold Key service to Dubai, UAE, in 2019 and for Trade Show, Singapore, in 2022.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things I've learned from being a business owner is that projects move at their own pace and that it doesn't work well to rush through creative steps. It is important to get a clear understanding of your client's needs and be confident about creating an excellent work product. Time management, financial planning, and self-care are all important aspects of facing multiple challenges of running a business.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do your best work, and continue to learn new skills. Discuss ideas with colleagues, and mentor those who are striving to improve their skills. Be generous with your knowledge, and also don't be afraid to ask for advice from experts in the field. Attend trade shows and be informed about the newest techniques and trends.
- Start your business right away, and do not procrastinate. Not everything will go as planned, so be flexible and keep moving forward. There will never be a perfect launch date, so take the opportunity sooner rather than later and learn to make adjustments as you go. Believe in yourself and know that things will work out.
- Be aware of time management. Be sure to give yourself time to relax and enjoy life. At the same time, network and share ideas with others and be open to collaboration. Be communicative, and form a network by show support for what your colleagues are doing.
Where can people find you and your business?