Small Business Profile: Designs by Camille

The Fresno BeeJune 28, 2014 

Much like the design of her jewelry, Camille Cole chose to go against the grain and not pursue a college education.

When she first started making jewelry for herself in 2003, she didn't anticipate that was how she would make her living.

But people from all walks of life -- including celebrities like Danny Glover, Meg Ryan and Nicole Kidman -- are buying Designs by Camille jewelry from locations across the U.S. and the state. Her jewelry is sold in Studio City in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakhurst, Palm Springs and even New York.

"I try to keep my jewelry vibrant and bold -- very different," she said. "I don't follow trends whatsoever. I've always just done my own thing, and it seems to work for me."

Cole likes to hunt for quirky supplies at National Hardware Supply in Fresno to keep her jewelry bold and fresh.

It's also important to her that anyone is able to purchase her designs.

"My jewelry is for everyone. I've got price ranges for everybody," she said. "I never want my jewelry to be out of reach for anybody's pocketbook."

How did you get into making jewelry?

Cole: In 2003 I just began making jewelry for myself. I never thought that it would actually be something that I did for a living. I started off just making really simple things, and then I wanted to expand a little bit. I got into a lot of metal work and hand forging, and that's pretty much what I mainly focus on is hand-forged work. I do a little bit of lapidary work -- cutting stone, polishing, shaping. I never duplicate anything. All of my pieces are one-of-a-kind. I always want to keep it like that.

Is there any inspiration for the jewelry?

Cole: Through my travels. I have property in (Belize) so I travel back and forth from here to there. It just depends on my mood, as well. Here in Fresno is my comfort zone.

What have been some of the highlights of your business?

Cole: In 2010 I was asked to do a show in New York, and I received an award for up-and-coming jewelry artist. So that was a big highlight for me. I was out of my element there in New York, and I actually was quite surprised that I won that. Also, just traveling and meeting different people, doing custom orders for people.

What are some of the rewards of making jewelry?

Cole: As an artist, to be able to do this for a living -- it's amazing. This is my income. It took me a long time to get here, but I finally got to where I'm quite self-sufficient with my work. That's pretty gratifying. A lot of artists can only do it one or two days a week if they're lucky because they have a full-time job.

What have been some of the biggest challenges?

Cole: I would say going against the grain and not going to college, choosing to live the life of an artist. It's not really welcomed in today's society for the most part. We're always taught to go to college and get a good education. Living a bohemian lifestyle, for most parents, isn't the recommended lifestyle.

What do you hope for the future of your business?

Cole: I would love to do some work for television or movies. I design really big, ornate jewelry, so I definitely see it showing very well in a movie or a TV series.

Designs by Camille

Owner: Camille Cole

Founded: 2003

Location: Several, including BB Pepper and Studio 74

Phone: (559) 307-2969

Employees: 1

Annual sales: $55,000

Online: email


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