MY EMPIRE: Stay-at-home mom turns jewelry designer

My Empire: Stay-at home mom builds empire as jewelry designer

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A stay-at-home mom's jewelry is sparkling in her new found spotlight.

Cheryl Pesce turned her passion into prospect after her daughter graduated high school. She now owns a successful jewelry line, and she's sharing the gems she learned along the way.

"You can't just say, 'Oh, I love this, I wish I were better at it,'" Pesce said. "Get better at it, seek out the people who are the best at the very top of the thing that you want to do."

Click here to watch the full interview with Cheryl Pesce.

Pesce has been drawn to beautiful things since she was a little girl.

"It was undeniable," Pesce said. "I saw art in everything."

But when it came time to choose a profession, everyone told her to be a nurse or a teacher.

Instead she became a pharmaceutical and medical equipment sales representative. She then got married and became a stay-at-home wife--a role she loved and found came with its own set of challenges.

"I had a baby, weighed less than two pounds, and after three and a half months in the neonatal unit, we were told, 'Take her home, call the funeral director; she's going to die."

Pesce's daughter, Avery, not only lived, she thrived!

When Avery graduated high school, she got her mom to design jewelry for the 50 people vital to her success.

At a school event, Pesce saw the jewelry she made mixed in with other high-end brands.

"I made a few more and took them to the local boutique. She bought them all, and they sold out."

That was the first step on the road to building her empire. Next came the mentors.

"You can't just say, 'Oh I love this. I wish I were better at it.' Get better at it! Seek out the people who are the best at the very top of the thing that you want to do," Pesce said. "I got busy finding artisans who could really teach me how to do the 22 karat gold vermeil to source the turquoise and the Tahitian pearls and Baroque pearls. I knew I wanted the best materials."

She sold her creations at trunk shows and asked boutiques to carry her lines.

She found studio space through Emerge Memphis, a non-profit initiative that supports Mid-South startups.

"It is hard work...I am up at 4:30, 5:00 in the morning, and I don't know what time I stop. I never look at my watch."

Clients--like Leigh Ann Tuohy and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland's wife, Melyne--took notice. So did a woman connected to luxury buyers in New York.

"Turns out her husband is an actor and had a leading role in The Devil Wears Prada," Pesce remembered.

The woman's husband is Daniel Sunjata. He ended up wearing Pesce's creations on the show Graceland.

Melissa Hibbert, Celebrity Makeup Artist and guest beauty expert on The Real, now also rocks Cheryl Pesce.

"The planets and stars and everything just got in line," Pesce said.

The real secret to Pesce's success: Hard work, smart mentors, and an undeniable passion she's had since she was a little girl.

"Pursue a career that can be your vocation, but don't leave your avocation behind. Still work at the thing that you love, still follow your passion and maybe someday your passion will eclipse that thing that you're doing to earn money."

Pesce went live on Facebook to answer any questions WMC Action News 5 viewers had about how she built her empire. Click here to watch the video.

Cheryl Pesce's creations range from $72 to $1,200. She also launched a men's line and a children's line.

Pesce will also be at a trunk show showing off some of her creations February 12-14. Friday and Saturday the event runs from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday it runs from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. The trunk show will take place at LaMaison Antiques at 4768 Poplar Avenue.

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