“The design process is sacred to me. Being there with that idea, creating it, and giving it physical form is sacred,” says Michelle Pajak-Reynolds, the CEO and Creative Director at Michelle Pajak-Reynolds Studios.
Michelle uses her creative sensibilities and artistic ability to design innovative couture pieces for her clients. Her one-of-a-kind collections (each piece is original and never replicated) have been featured on the runway at New York Fashion Week and seen at various exhibitions and red carpet events. Her resume includes dressing celebrities such as Sophia Bush, Nona Gaye, Debora Lyra, Dina Manzo, Lisa Ryan, and Jillian Barberie.
Wearing a cobalt maxi dress that she picked up on one of her trips to Brazil, Michelle recalls her first memories of designing jewelry at five years old: “I remember spending hours playing with pop-beads and jelly bracelets in front of a television watching Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman.”
While petting her adorable, tiger-striped cat, Michelle tells me how there was a great demand for Wonder Women bracelets in her neighborhood. “All my girlfriends needed Wonder Women bracelets to keep up with the boys, who were also very interested in super-heros, in our neighborhood,” she explains. When creating her company and crafting her pieces Michelle kept in mind the courage and power these bracelets gave her friends. Today, she still uses Wonder Woman as her muse: “Wonder Woman’s jewelry gave her super powers, confidence and enabled her to change the world. My passion for making jewelry is to help my clients feel like the most beautiful and confident women in the world and as though they can conquer anything.”
Though she continued to make jewelry throughout her childhood and teenage years, Reynolds’ formal jewelry training began in a 10th grade jewelry class at Mentor High School. Michelle knew she had to perfect this innate inclination to design and went on to receive a BFA in Jewelry from Kent State University and an MBA in Entrepreneurship from Baldwin-Wallace University. Like many artists, it was difficult for Michelle to garner support from others for her career choice. However, Michelle pursued her dreams and founded Michelle Pajak-Reynolds Studios, despite pressure to switch to a “real job” where she could “make some money.”
This Wonder Woman has proved her disbelievers wrong. Her pieces of art have been gaining credibility in the fashion world as they gloss the covers of Grace Ormonde Wedding Style and LA Brides Magazine. When asked what makes her designs so distinctive Reynolds emphasizes the experience of having an authentic piece that you can find no where else in the world. She says, “I think that now people are truly thinking about what they buy and why they buy. There is that emotional connection that is more than just ‘I have to have the latest or hottest trend.’”
Michelle is inspired by avant-garde fashion. She finds the questioning of normality along with the idyllic world it creates enticing and fascinating. The designer lists McQueen as one of her biggest role models. When discussing McQueen’s death, she shared with me the pain and heartbreak she suffered when she learned of the tragedy. Michelle points out that what McQueen did with his clothing is what she strives for in her jewelry. “McQueen is the bar I set for my work,” Michelle explains.
Recently, Michelle has become inspired by her surroundings. On her hiking adventures, she loves to examine the color gradation in leaves and flowers. Michelle’s work is very organic, much like the silhouette of a flower; her pieces are not sharp, pointy or edgy, rather they are very feminine, curvy and soft. Her goal is to transfer the beauty of stars, galaxies, animal life and other aspects of nature onto the body through her designs.
Michelle’s favorite part of her career is watching the transformation process that takes place when a customer tries on her jewelry. She loves to see how a woman carries herself with pride, pose and power when wearing one of her designs. Michelle emphasizes the intimate relationship people have with jewelry and the emotional connection that occurs. She reasons that there is really no other art as personal as jewelry. With references to a grandmother’s ring, Reynolds remarks how jewelry has been historically passed down through generations for millennia.
However, the creative process of making the jewelry itself is something that cannot simply be handed down from one’s ancestors. It takes a creative mind that sees beyond physical constraints and an above-average intellect. I believe that Reynolds possesses both of these qualities. For me, Michelle’s designs and the effect they have on women transcend the physical world, time, fashion and jewelry itself. Michelle Pajak-Reynolds’ designs are one-of-a-kind pieces of art that bring confidence and power to women.