The one thing I love about social platforms is its ability to make authentic connections with like-minded individuals who are out there creating. Case in point, step in Michelle Choy of Elsie Grey. A shy, albeit passionate, local jewelry designer from my hometown, Edmonton. I’d been following her jewelry line for two years (since she began) and have admired her growth as a designer.
Her new collection is filled with minimal, feminine pieces that are perfect for the everyday, 9 to 5, working woman. An easy accessory to take any outfit from day to night, but forever timeless. I managed to snag an interview with this lovely lady, to delve into her life, her story, and her inspirations.
Tell me a little about yourself.
“I’m from Edmonton, born and raised. I have always taken an interest in fashion. I graduated from the U of A [with] a BA degree in psychology. Growing up, I actually had no idea what I wanted to do in life and then I took a few design courses in university […] and felt like design was always something I wanted to do. I came across the Market Collective and saw other jewelry vendors, and I ended up taking a course with Market Collective on how to make jewelry. I was like, ‘Oh, this is really fun. I really like it.’ I’d see stuff in stores and I’d take it apart and put it together in different ways. That was [my gateway] into making jewelry. When my sister’s friends started asking me, ‘Hey, I like what you’re wearing. Can you make me one?’ That’s where it really took off. “
How did Elsie Grey start?
“Elsie Grey actually started out as Creative Daydreamer. I started the business with my sister. She likes to make cards, so it started with me and her just creating an Etsy page. I pushed it cause I was like, “This is something we’ve always wanted to do. Let’s just do it.”
As we continued, life got busy and my sister couldn’t do cards anymore. So I said, ‘You know what, I’m just going to rebrand and make it more my own.’ And I thought the name Elsie Grey was a really good fit for my jewelry line.
I still wanted to incorporate my sister, and her creative cards, so it became Elsie Grey and Co. to [incorporate additional] creators on my Etsy page.”
How did you choose the name Elsie Grey?
“A lot of people ask me this! Elsie Grey is a combination of my name. I took the ‘Elle’ out of my first name, Michelle, and fused it with the first letter in my last name ‘C’. I thought of Elle-C, loved it, but just spelled it a little differently. So it became Elsie! The original inspiration came from hearing Zooey Deschanel name her kid ‘Elsie’. I was like, ‘Wow that’s a really nice name.’ And then I had the thought, ‘Wait a minute. My name is Elsie if you combine it…’ It was really funny how that worked out!”
“The last part was really hard to think of. I started to think of things I was inspired by. I really love London. Everything about London, I think, is really cool. I wanted to incorporate that somehow. I came up with Elsie London, but it just didn’t flow well. I thought of how London can be so grey… and then the name came together… Elsie Grey!”
So, tell me what’s your typical day at Elsie Grey.
“A typical day would begin with me going out and buying supplies. I’ll go to Bed Rock supply and… look at the different chains and pieces. I’m a very visual creator. I get inspired that way. I stand there and go, ‘Okay, what would look good together.’ Sometimes I’ll head to a jewelry supply shop and see different, individual pieces and I will put those pieces together to create a unique piece. That’s how the Witney earrings [from her new collection] were made. I just saw the pieces and I was like, ‘This will look really good together.’ I really like the design.”
“Once I get home I’ll experiment a little bit. If I’m designing a necklace, I have a mannequin and I begin to create the piece I had been visualizing. Cutting the chain, here, adding a pendant there. It’s very hands on.”
“When working with materials, I usually gear for a more silver or gold look. I like to combine those two. I try not to make it sterling silver or real gold though. Some of my stuff does have real gold in it, but I want people to be able to afford it. I know a lot of stores can be really expensive and I cater to make my line affordable; for the everyday woman. “
What was your inspiration for your new collection?
“I draw my inspirations from everyday life. The Witney earrings, for example, I saw a girl at Shopper’s Drug Mart who had earrings that were similar to it, but they were massive. They were really big. I was like, ‘That would be really cool to find something similar to that, but [let’s] make it smaller, make it my own kind.’
Basically, it’s people wearing everyday things, and me looking at the trends and what’s going on.”
What type of woman do you have in mind when you design your jewelry?
“Oh my goodness. I’m inspired by a lot of bloggers actually. “
“I follow a lot of bloggers, like The August Diaries (She’s from Toronto.) I’m a very city-chic woman, who’s very minimalistic. I try to make my stuff into something you can wear every day; pieces that are timeless. So, in five years down the road, you’ll [still] be able to wear them. Because trends do come and go… but, I try to keep it very … simple. That way you can wear it all the time!
“I want the people who buy my designs to say, years down the road, ‘Hey, I still wear your pieces.”
Have you seen someone on the street wearing one of your creations?
“I’ve seen people come by my shows and they’ll be wearing one of my designs. The thing I really like about jewelry, is that it can bring any outfit to life. And it’s really… it’s so flattering to see people wearing my stuff. I’m like, ‘Wow. They really love it and they want to wear it every day.’ I’m still new to this, and so it actually really inspires me to make more designs when I see people wearing it. It’s very cool!”
How do you think you’ve evolved since starting two years ago?
“I look at stuff that I made from when I first started to now, (even doing my new collection) and I feel like [my aesthetic] has gotten better and my fan base has expanded. Even though I only have a small following on Instagram, I’m like, ‘Wow, I’ve grown so much already.’ I’ve definitely noticed my pieces … evolving. I’ve gotten people who actually come to my shows and they tell me, ‘I love your new stuff. You’ve grown so much,’ and I can see it in my work. It feels more refined and I’m finding my place in the jewelry world. A lot of my stuff is minimalistic, and I know a lot of jewelry brands are doing that, because that’s the trend. That’s what everyone wants.”
“But, I’ve been setting myself apart from them and try to make more statement-y pieces. I want my simple pieces to make a big impact. I might try to not make my pieces overly large, but I still want them to be a statement. I want them to have something extra to it. “
“So I’ve been focusing more on that… trying to evolve that side of things, set myself apart from other jewelry brands. I’m trying to figure out more of who Elsie Grey is, and I feel like I’m getting there. “
What are three wardrobe essentials that every woman should own?
“Personally, a good leather jacket is a must. What else? I’d say a really good… just a really good staple necklace. Even like the one I have on right now, a simple pendant. It goes with everything. I definitely gravitate towards (laughing) … I have a weird obsession with Chelsea boots. I have 20 of them! Chelsea boots are a must and a plain tee, whether it’s a white one or black one, I feel like that’s essential. I’m very laid back. I like things that are laid back. Comfy but still chic.”
Do you have a favorite piece from your new collection?
“The coin necklace is one of my favourites. I also have a locket one, which is one of my favourites too! It’s super simple, just a very small locket.
Oh! And then I made these little earrings that are… they have marble spikes. I love them, they’re edgier.”
where she’ll be showcasing the new pieces from her new collection!
Elsie Grey and Co. can be found in various locations within YEG.
Online you can find Elsie Grey and Co on