For Charline Shelby, the path from the corporate world to a creative field involved small steps and a final leap of faith. She had started crafting jewelry as a hobby in 2008 and found it to be a therapeutic release from her position at an engineering firm. Although Shelby made individual pieces for family and friends, she had no thought of offering her work for sale.
“Making jewelry was a way of giving a little piece of me,” she says.
But the more jewelry she made and gave away, the more those family and friends were impressed with her talent. Finally, a coworker asked to sell some of Shelby’s pieces at a dinner party. She returned to the office the next week with a check.
During the next few years, Shelby changed jobs and kept making jewelry for fun, buying beads and supplies at the local craft store. Eventually, she started to meet owners of retail stores and began hosting trunk shows and participating in festivals. When the national boutique Fab’rik tested her product, which sold well, and shipped her pieces to locations throughout the country, Shelby’s next job change became clear. Her hobby had earned potential career status. In 2014, Shelby left the corporate world and committed to making designing jewelry her profession.
“I am very much fly by the seat of your pants,” she says. But when she left her job, it was with a two-year plan. Her accountant told her that she was stepping out on faith and needed to stay positive. “And I did. I haven’t looked back. I have such a great support system with my family and my friends. I can’t wait to see the next five years.”
In just a few years, Shelby, now CEO and designer at Fabulina Designs, has grown her business to a staff of 11 with product in 26 states, as well as Aruba, France, Indonesia, Puerto Rico and South Africa. The days of visiting the local bead shops are behind her. Today, Shelby travels internationally and attends stone and gem shows to look for special products to incorporate into her work.
The style of Fabulina Designs is “bohochic,” although the line also includes vintage and modern pieces. Defined by neutral, muted colors, the “boho” aesthetic is Southern and incorporates natural elements like horns, stars, moons and stones, according to Shelby. The “chic” comes from adding bling and color to the otherwise subdued pieces. In addition to Fabulina Designs, Shelby has launched a men’s line, C.O.D.E., and the high-end line, Olivia Love, featuring pieces that include semi-precious stones in 14-karat-gold-filled settings.
Fabulina’s offerings are limited to 20 pieces per design, although the team sometimes makes fewer. It all depends on the availability of materials and natural stones, and custom pieces are also available. Shelby plans to grow the business even more in the coming years.
“We want to expand,” she says. In particular, she intends to put more focus on C.O.D.E., which is an acronym for confidence, ownership, dignity and excellence. “I want to give men the option to wear quality, affordable, handmade jewelry to enhance their style and give them the confidence to reach their excellence.”
This attitude of providing meaning through art is apparent in Shelby’s support of local nonprofit organizations, too. Together with other designers, Fabulina Designs hosts trunk shows with a commitment to donate a portion of sales to organizations like Elite Sisterhood and Seeds of Love Foster Resource Center.
“When you love it, it doesn’t feel like you’re working,” Shelby says. “I take pride in my work. We want the customers to love the jewelry just as much as we love making it.”
Learn more about Fabulina Designs and find a retail location at FabulinaDesigns.com.