Designer’s Biography: Finding the Niche
Marjorie Miller’s life has been as diverse as the many different types of gems she uses to make her jewelry. In a 30-year career, Marjorie has mastered multiple artistic genres.
Growing up in the tiny town of Connorsville, Wisconsin (about 70 miles east of the Twin Cities), Marjorie moved to Minneapolis after high school to pursue music interests.
Later trained in sound engineering, she moved to London, England, to study record production under famed producer and artist Nick Lowe. She was in studio with The Attractions (Elvis Costello’s Band) when they recorded their solo album.
Marjorie moved to Nashville in 1982 to pursue her musical production aspirations and study art and art history. She started an independent music newspaper called Almost News. She also performed with multiple bands as a vocalist and keyboard player, appearing at some of Nashville’s top music venues.
In 1987, Marjorie and two partners formed Feralette Records. She recorded, produced, promoted, and served as a fill-in percussionist with multiple bands. During this period in her life, she continued studying art and art history.
In her spare time, Marjorie studied acting at the Performing Artist’s Workshop. This led to her landing a part in a European movie shot on location in Nashville.
In 1991, Marjorie began selling jewelry on historic Second Avenue in downtown Nashville. Three years later, she became co-manager of The Garth Store and Whoa’s on Second, owned by Garth Brooks. Among Marjorie’s managerial duties, she was responsible for the procurement of all jewelry for Whoa’s. In her pursuit of jewelry for the store, she began to utilize her extensive artistic knowledge and realized there was a missing niche in the market. She started designing semi-precious beaded jewelry as a hobby.
In 1998, Garth Brooks decided to close his merchandise stores, and Marjorie started a new chapter in her life. After working for a short time at a local health food store, she became a nutritional manager for a large natural health grocer. It was during this time that she met her husband Howell.
In 2001, Marjorie and Howell moved to Boulder, Colorado. Marjorie became a national supply chain coordinator and buyer for the corporate office of the aforementioned natural health grocer. While in Colorado, she accompanied a friend to a wholesale gem show in Denver. She purchased several gems, pearls, and silver and began making jewelry with a passion.
Her co-workers at the office, many of whom were professional mercantile buyers, commented that she needed to be selling her wares. Her first sales were to some of those buyers in her office. Soon, she was taking special orders from several co-workers.
Upon moving back to Nashville in 2003, Marjorie began refining her talents, taking advanced-level classes from some of the top designers in the country, including one of the nation’s top volume suppliers of beads and jewelry-making supplies. This artisan encouraged her to sell her designs publicly and asked if he could include Marjorie’s pieces in his gallery.
In the summer of 2003, Marjorie and Howell made their annual vacation trek to Wisconsin and Minnesota. While in Minnesota, they visited Bloomingdale’s in the Mall of America to view a fabulous exhibit of hand-made cigar box purses. Marjorie began talking with one of the jewelry associates, and the associate remarked that she loved the necklace and bracelet Marjorie was wearing. When Marjorie told her she designed and made the pieces, the associate told her that Bloomingdale’s needed to be selling them. Marjorie spent the next 10 months designing and making dozens more pieces, and in June of 2004, she returned to Bloomingdale’s to show her assortment to the jewelry department. The Bloomingdale’s manager immediately selected an assortment of over 70 necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Bloomingdale’s began selling her Jewelry in the fall of 2004. Her jewelry was recognized as that missing niche in the industry. Their buyer compared her pieces to Ralph Lauren’s ties. An art critic for the St. Paul Pioneer Press called her jewelry “Wearable Masterpieces.”
Parisian in Franklin, Tennessee’s Cool Springs Mall featured Marjorie’s Jewelry at a trunk show in November 2004. It was so successful that they asked her to do an impromptu encore show a month later.
In the summer of 2007, Marjorie and Howell began mining amethyst from a source in Western Ontario. Marjorie has polished the amethyst while leaving it in its original form. This is the start of a new branch of Marjorie Miller Designs and will continue as long as the Canadian black bears allow them to mine in their territory.
In the past five years, Marjorie has learned new techniques and begun teaching others the art of jewelry-making. She has continued to sell her custom-design pieces through multiple venues throughout the country.
Marjorie debuted her handcrafted wire-wrapped pendants at the April 21, 2009, Gospel Music Association’s Dog and Pony Show with logo pieces for the band Life Out Loud.
Marjorie was commissioned to create beaded embellishments for a custom designed ball gown by world famous designer Munira.
She has made multiple television appearances on Nashville’s More at Midday and Talk of the Town.
I have truly found my creative passion—I love designing and creating jewelry. I love the feel and texture of semi-precious gems, pearls and sterling silver. The colors take my imagination soaring as I put them together to make a piece of art jewelry. I knew after having gone to that gem show in Denver that making beautiful jewelry is what I have been waiting all of my life to do.
My niche is bringing together various gems, pearls, sterling silver, and many other metals into finished designs that are unique, exciting to the eye and especially fun to wear. Color, design, and texture all come into play as I lay out my creations with an artist’s eye and palette. Each piece evolves and to me comes to life with a personality all its own.
I have always loved rocks (including big boulders and tiny crystals), stones, and jewelry. Jewelry is particularly my passion as I have always bought, collected, worn, and sold it, and now I design, create and sell it. I learned to appreciate sterling silver at The Silver Shop on Historic 2nd Avenue in downtown Nashville. I had the great fortune to polish, arrange, design and execute window displays, purchase silver wholesale, wear beautiful pieces, and of course sell it. The beautiful brilliance of sterling is the icing on the design.
I believe jewelry is to be worn with all outfits (casual, classic, or special). Why wait for a special occasion to wear a beautifully designed piece of art jewelry?Click to add text, images, and other content