Text by Lesley Harris Colvett, photography by John Terry, Forest Hill Photography
At Home Memphis & Mid South chatted with Mid South jewelry designer Cheryl Pesce on her passion for creating, her inspirations and trends she’s loving right now.
Where did you grow up and go to school?
I grew up in Columbus, Arkansas, in the southwest part of the state, on the Texas border. I attended grade school and high school in rural southern Arkansas, and it was there that I first began to create elaborate macramé plant hangers for my teachers. Upon graduation from college in southern Arkansas, I accepted a position as a special education teacher in Houston, Texas. I later moved to Memphis as a pharmaceutical and medical equipment representative.
What do you enjoy most about designing jewelry?
I love the creativity of it all—being able to take an inspiration and transform it into a piece of art from start to finish. I love art, beautiful gemstones and metal pieces, so finding them and putting them together to create something that someone else can wear every day, if they choose, is thrilling. Also, it’s a way to honor my family, specifically my grandmothers, in a very nontraditional way. Both of them wore copper bracelets, a metal I love to use in design, and thought black-eyed peas were symbols of good luck. Today, I use a copper bowl of black-eyed peas in my displays as homage to them.
What inspires you when you design pieces?
My surroundings are key in the creative process. I begin each day with a walk where I can draw on the elements of nature right here in Memphis for inspiration. From the calm of the Mississippi River to rich and colorful sunrises, each sparks creative ideas. People, their style and their stories also inspire me. I try to incorporate those muses into each piece.
I enjoy photography. I love capturing all of the beautiful things in the city from murals on South Main Street to the gorgeous sunsets. My hobby is a catalyst for inspiration, and consequently, it contributes to my work as an artisan.
What are your favorite things to do in Memphis?
Having a great meal at a local eatery, listening to live music and visiting some of our hometown gems like repertory theaters, historical sites and farmers markets are some of my favorite things to do in the city. Memphis has a rich culture and ever-changing landscape. It’s important to me to explore my city as if I were a tourist.
Favorite places to travel?
I love the fast pace and excitement of New York City and Chicago. The hustle and bustle in larger metropolitan areas inspires me to keep going and achieve my dreams, but I also enjoy relaxation and closeness to water. A recent adventure I had was both beautiful and invigorating. I returned home with unique raw materials to use in design and a new inspiration to create more beautiful things.
Any trends in jewelry and/or accessories that you are loving right now?
The trend I love right now is layering necklaces. With one long piece, you’re able to create a layered effect that finishes your look. Layering different textures of necklaces or stacking bracelets is something simple anyone can do to liven up their style. The beauty of accessories is their ability to transform not only an outfit, but also the person who’s wearing them.