You may not recognize jewelry designer Seville Michelle Anastos’ name, but if you’re a fan of hip hop’s hottest celebs – think Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Alicia Keys and Rihanna – then you definitely have seen the fashionista’s sophisticated, luxe take on the classic door knocker earring.
Anastos grew up in Queens, New York , a borough of that reflects the city’s melting pot of cultures. Half-Cuban, half-Greek, Anastos went to public school with Puerto Rican, Lebanese, Pakistani, Chinese and Spanish kids all while listening to the addictive street beats of 90’s hip hop. It’s Anastos’ love of music, combined with her Cuban mother’s love for flashy gold jewelry and a passion for global influences, that defines her jewelry to this day. And in a world where fast fashion and haute couture have come to define the difference between street fashion and celebrity favorites, this 32-year-old’s affordable line of bracelets, necklaces, shoulder epulet chains and signature earrings have made her the go-to favorite of New York’s fashion-forward teens and hip hop royalty including Ciara, Mary J Blige, Lil Wayne, Lauryn Hill and Prince.
Anastos – the youngest of three children – has always been an accessory affectionado, modeling her own love of heavy door knocker earrings after the hip hop stars she grew up idolizing. Growing up in an immigrant family meant that there wasn’t always a lot of cash around, but whether it was passing out local business flyers or working for the Korean women at the local nail salon, Anastos always saved up pocket change for the door knocker, bamboo earrings that distinguished the look of everyone from the girls on her block to rapper Queen Latifah.
“If you wear my designs, you understand how a little girl could rock those earrings and still reach for them as a woman. There was a certain type of confidence that comes wearing them,” says Anastos, who worked her way up from production assistant to set art designer on shows like Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New York” before independently launching her line in 2009.
Anastos was working on the set of reality show in New York City when she decided it was finally time to embrace her dream of designing jewelry that represented where she came from and where she was going. Life, love and personality would be the focus of whatever she designed, and after a run to jewelry goods store, began designing a line of a neo-concept shoulder necklace accessory that could be worn over bare skin or clothing. Those initial pieces – edgy, stylish and bold – landed her a spot in Gen Art’s Fresh Faces in Fashion in Miami in March 2009 and by the following fall, Anastos had received a request from Nordstrom for 500 hundred pairs of leather-wrapped bamboo earrings to be sold in 19 stores across the country.
By the time Anastos had filled the order – making each piece by hand in her apartment just in time for Holiday 2010 – Alicia Keys had worn her earrings during her “Freedom” tour and Anastos was well on her way to dressing some of the industry’s hottest celebrities. But even with her rapid ascent to success, Anastos is quick to point out that she’s proud to handle every aspect of her business herself.
“I’ve done everything from designing my own website and learning how to edit so I could create my own promotional videos, to making the earrings and marketing them day to day here in the city,” says Anastos, who briefly studied business after earning her associate’s degree. “I’ve learned how to do it all on my own with the sense that I had to create my own path towards pursuing my dream.”
Anastos counts her partnership with Patricia Fields as one of her proudest accomplishments to date. The renowned stylist – perhaps best known for her chic styling on “Sex and the City” – was one of the first to see the budding designer’s potential since introducing Anastos’ line in her trendy boutique, has seen her designs consistently outsell other brands.
“She’s someone who is known for her eye, her sense of cool,” says Anastos, whose pieces range in price from $45 to $120. “And the fact that she saw that in me just blows my mind.”
Anastos, who eventually wants to present her pieces in a formal show room, has her eye on expanding her sales to Asia. But while she dreams of becoming an international icon with her hip hop-centric designs, she giggles over the fact that Lauryn Hill is rocking her designs while on her European tour and that Nicki Minaj has been tweeting photos of her earrings, both on the set of her “Right By My Side” video.
“It’s all about creating a product that reflects your passion,” remarks Anastos.
“After all, good taste must be shared and my hope is to spend the rest of my life doing what I love.”