Meet Melanie Valekis, the Birmingham jewelry designer behind Etsy shop 18eleven

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Birmingham, Etsy, 18eleven, Melanie Valekis, jewelry
Creator of 18eleven Melanie Valekis with family. Photo by Johanna Cosby Photography

Looking for jewelry that will make you say “Wow?” Check out local Birmingham Etsy shop 18eleven.

I chatted with Melanie Valekis, local Etsy seller and creator of shop 18eleven for a Q and A session. Here’s a peek at who she is, her passion for creating one-of-a-kind jewelry, her advice to other local sellers and more.

How would you describe your jewelry?

“At first, I mostly made classic pieces that you see everywhere. Then my mind just went wild with new designs. I started focusing on creating more one-of-a-kind pieces that you don’t see everywhere. 

“I would consider the style of my jewelry as ‘boho/hippie’ and at the same time ‘minimalist/preppy.’” 

How did you discover your passion for designing and making jewelry?

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Photo via 18eleven

“I’ve always saved my jewelry from as far back as middle school. One day I was going through it and thought, ‘I could totally take this necklace apart and make it cuter.’”

And she did. 

“By taking necklaces apart, I learned how they were put together. I played around with it for a month or so, just trying to perfect my skills. Finally, when I had enough pieces to put out there, I created an Etsy page just to see what would happen.”

What happened was she found a pretty great following on Etsy, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. She also has a perfect five star rating on Etsy with fantastic customer reviews. 

What inspires your creations?

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Copper Distressed Leather Cutout Adjustable Choker Boho Style Chain Necklace. Photo via 18eleven.

“My absolute favorite brand of clothing is Free People, so a lot of my inspiration comes from that Bohemian style. I love pieces that you can layer together, as well as wear all by itself. 

“Being a mom of two, I rarely get to ‘dress up’, so I wanted to create jewelry that could be worn with a simple white T-shirt and jeans or with a dress.”

Do you make special orders?

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Top seller at 18eleven. Boho Beaded Tassel Chain Necklace. Photo via 18eleven

“Yes! I have actually made a ton of one-of-a-kind pieces for clients’ special orders. All of my pieces can be adjusted, changed or made to order.” 

Have a special request? Contact Melanie via Etsy, Instagram or Facebook or email her at melanie18eleven@yahoo.com.

Have you sold your jewelry anywhere locally in Birmingham? 

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18eleven jewelry formerly sold at Fabrik at the Summit (Birmingham). Photo via 18eleven

“I had a trunk show at Fabrik at the Summit last year, which was really successful. They carried some of my jewelry for a while, which was amazing! I’ve done a few other small events, but plan on trying to schedule more in the near future.”

For now, you can find Melanie’s jewelry line 18eleven on Etsy, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest

What’s your favorite piece you have made?

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Boho Feather Tassel Chain Necklace. Photo via 18eleven

“My first feather tassel necklace. I just remember being so proud of it when I finished it. And it encompasses the 18eleven brand perfectly—a little boho and a little chic.”

Available at 18eleven

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Boho Green Gemstone Pendant Chain Necklace. Photo via 18eleven

At 18eleven, you will find necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Also available upon special request are candles for Baptisms and weddings and wedding crowns (Stefana) for Greek Orthodox weddings. 

Prices range from $20-$95 and typically take as little as one-two days to ship. Special orders can take up to two weeks.

Should You Become an Etsy Seller?

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Top seller from 18eleven. Boho Antique Brass Hematite Matte Small Square Heishi Beaded, Short Brass Chain Necklace. Photo via 18eleven.

There are tons of local Etsy sellers out there. Believe me when I say I have checked. But is it really a good platform for selling items? According to Melanie, the answer is yes.

“It’s a platform that gives anyone the opportunity to show, sell, promote and express their passion to the public eye. And it’s surprisingly easy to set up your own shop, too.”

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Top seller at 18eleven. Handmade stackable bracelets. Photo via 18eleven

It really is. I have an Etsy shop myself and it doesn’t take much time to get your very own page set up. Through an easy-to-follow step-by-step process, Etsy provides you with all of the tools to start and create your own website that’s tailored to your specific needs and wants. The best part—Etsy does all of the behind-the-scenes technical work so you can focus on the fun part—creating!

If you are serious about becoming a seller, Etsy can also teach you a lot of important things about the process. Melanie agrees.

“I’ve learned so much about branding and how to connect with people who are interested in my type of product.”

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Branding right down to the packaging. Photo via 18eleven

What’s Melanie’s advice for other Birmingham locals who sell or are considering selling their homemade creations?

“Just go for it. Try it out. Don’t hesitate about putting yourself out there because you never know.”

You could even end up being spotlighted in one of our upcoming Etsy features. How exciting would that be? 

Be sure to check out 18eleven on Etsy, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest