“Follow your heart and it will always lead you in the right direction—if you just listen,” are the only words young jewelry artisan, Melissa Doan, innocently chimes out when speaking on her life of elementary school teacher turned business entrepreneur. Her business, Melissa Doan Jewelry, is a mix of all handcrafted and limited edition silver and stone jewelry she personally designs. Her architectural and nature inspired pieces evince the sprite and glowing energy that is Melissa Doan, who flourished her company from online to boutiques and better department stores across the country.
As a child, Melissa remarks on how she always had an eye for unique objet d’art, jewelry and the like. She also mentioned how she always knew she would own her business. Doan grew up in a diverse, urban suburb just outside of Princeton, but found her childhood a bit challenging from time to time as she realized she was more of a creative spirit than her parents were maybe ready for. She remained steadfast to who she was, even opening her own antique store while still in high school from the couple hundred dollars she’d won from a bingo game. Her store, Ugly Duckling, is where she first got a taste of combining her eye for beauty and instinctive mind for business. Melissa, successfully ran that business for 4 years, only closing it in order to focus all her efforts on college, where she obtained both a business and teaching degree.
Doan, became a special ed teacher in elementary school, but found her career at a crossroads, and a difficult decision looming with the onslaught of ever-growing education budget cuts. She had originally gone into teaching thinking it was a more financially secure route than other creative-based endeavors she was drawn to. Inherently a creative spirit, Melissa was already dabbling in jewelry making while she was teaching, and was actually coming to a point that she wasn’t sure which career was meant for her to follow. So when her job teaching 3rd grade autistic and language disabled children was wiped out, she took it as the sign she needed to go full force with her jewelry designing. “I believe there are parallels in everything,” she comments when discussing how her current design work comes from the same creative place she utilized to teach her 3rd grade classes. She goes on to say how she can’t help but find the creative aspect in every job presented to her, a quality that just is who she is.
Having an indelible belief in fate and a huge support of a loving husband, Brian, Melissa launched Melissa Doan Jewelry in 2008. Taking inspiration from nature, the healing stones she is drawn to, and the unique architectural designs found wherever she may be, Doan loves that she can create beauty every day. “I want to show the way I see [an object], how beautiful that really is. There’s a reason for every one of the pieces.” And each piece of jewelry designed has a story behind it and a name that matched perfectly. Though the metal itself and production abilities sometime create limitations to Melissa’s designs, she continues to make each piece with her unique, spiritual aesthetic.
At 28, Melissa Doan appreciates every second of the life that has finally fallen into place. With the ongoing success of her company, she doesn’t take lightly the chain of events that led her to where she’s at now. Her heart guiding her well, this self-taught silver artificer will design her way to an outfit near you.
Originally published in DStripped Magazine
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