Although her handcrafted jewelry has worldly appeal, Cheryl Pesce is, in fact, a designer who finds inspiration from her hometown of Memphis and the people she interacts with every day. She combines the finest materials available—pearls, gemstones, silver, gold, copper and leather—to create custom jewelry that is both distinctive and timeless. Her collections are in boutiques and museum stores in Memphis, as well as high-end shops around the country. Look for her signature displays in stores, such as a copper bowl honoring her late grandmother’s affinity for copper bracelets, filled with black-eyed peas, a symbol of good luck. Welcome local artist Cheryl Pesce, today’s FACES of Memphis profile!
Tell us about your hometown and how you arrived in Memphis.
I grew up in Columbus, AR, in the southwest part of the state, on the Texas border. I initially came to Memphis as a pharmaceutical and medical equipment rep. I moved to Jackson around the birth of my daughter, and after raising her, I decided to move back to Memphis when she went off to college. I now live on the river bluff in a live/work space with my studio on the first floor and my living environment on the second.
When did you realize that you could turn your passion for jewelry making into a career?
When I had made necklaces to give as gifts and saw my friends wearing them with their Mikimoto pearls and David Yurman [jewelry]. I knew that they saw the value in my pieces. I then took my pieces to a local boutique, and they bought them all to show in their store.
Tell us a little bit about your designs. Where do you typically draw inspiration?
My designs are inspired by the people around me: what they’re wearing, where they’re going, the individual style of the fabulous people I interact with every day. I am continuously inspired by this wonderful city.
What springtime events are you most looking forward to in Memphis?
The Beale Street Music Festival, the farmers’ market, the Peabody Rooftop Party and the Dixon Gallery garden in full bloom.
Do you have a favorite vacation spot or travel destination?
New York for the hustle and bustle, Cancun for the sun, snow skiing in the United States and Canada, and Chicago for the shopping and the food.
Based on your professional experience, do you have advice for women who want to start their own business?
Be proactive. There are always opportunities out there just waiting to be taken, but you can’t benefit from them without going for them.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Honestly, it would be my daughter. Our journey together began on a rough and lonely road with me as a single mother and her as a sick infant, yet she has been able still to grow into a successful young lady who I can be proud of.
Do you have a few favorite local restaurants?
What must-have beauty products are in your collection that you would recommend to others?
I like to splurge on La Mer. Recently, a friend from New York, who represents Guerlain, gifted me with their complete skincare line. It’s amazing!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I don’t do five-year plans anymore. I’m just going with the flow.
Name three lighthearted things that you can’t live without.
My tools and my eyeglasses are a tie for number one. I also can’t live without music, my DVF wrap dresses and my iPhone.
And thank you to Micki Martin, who took today’s wonderful photos of Cheryl Pesce.