Hi! Hola! My name is Desirée and I am the heart & hands behind Mano y Metal: handmade accessories! Everything you see in my shop is handmade to order with lots o' love by me, for you.♥ And yes, I have a really strong right arm and own an impressive variety of tools & hammers.
A little about me: Hey! My name is Desirée and I was born and raised in Little Village, Chicago. My grandparents arrived from Mexico back in the 1940s and settled in Little Village and I was raised on the same block my mom grew up on with my grandparents watching us from the window as we played outside. I was raised by a single mom and am the oldest of 3 kids, so yes, I prefer to be in charge because the oldest of the family often is. ha. My grandmother was a major influence in my life and co-parented us while my mom worked double shifts. For that reason, words like cabrona/o y chingona/o always find their way into my work because those were often the words my grandmother called us depending on how we were acting (up).
I am the first to graduate from college in my family and have a B.A in Public Policy. After graduation, I was working full-time but in 2010 I started Mano y Metal on the side and opened an etsy shop. I would rush home after my day job and hammer jewelry out, research tools, fill orders and smashed my fingers plenty of times. Finally, I decided to quit my day job and commit to Mano y Metal full-time - that was in 2013 and i’m still here, surviving and thriving all thanks to people who shop & support handmade WOC small biz. I appreciate you! Gracias!
When did it all start? I launched Mano y Metal in October 2010 after meeting an artisan who told me she supported herself over 15years with her handmade jewelry. It was completely unheard of at the time and not supported by mainstream thinking, which of course had me fascinated. I couldn't get her words out of mind & decided to make a pair of wire earrings when I got home after meeting her ---and after a few weeks and making around 30-50 pairs, I realized I needed to sell some because not even an earring enthusiast like myself could wear all of the pairs I had made... that's when I launched Mano y Metal officially with an etsy shop, started participating in pop-up shops and I have not been able to stop myself from creating jewelry since then! It reminds me of the time I discovered glow-in-the-dark nail polish as a kid and couldn't stop using it to write secret messages all over my bedroom walls.
Anyway, I am self-taught mostly and despite the frequency of trial of error that occurs by being self-taught, I have loved the creative adventure Mano y Metal has taken me on the past few years! Although, I started with wire jewelry my background in theater/playwrighting led me to the power of words... so I researched and taught myself to hand stamp words and phrases on metal and was hooked. It united my new love for metal fabrication to my first love; the power of words and Mano y Metal has evolved into what you see now.
I've always gotten into trouble since I was a child for being "too aggressive" or "too opinionated" or wearing earrings that were "too big" well, Mano y Metal celebrates all of those attributes & for that I am grateful. Plus, life is too short to live quietly and conform.♥
One-woman show? Yes, that is me. What do I mean by that? Well, it turns out being creative is the easy part, aside from designing & hand making each of the pieces I am also in charge of marketing, shipping, administrative duties, communication, social media expert, photography & beyond which can all get a little tricky to juggle, but I have a soul of a ninja so that helps. Aside from using my hammer all day, I am a vampire-believer, I have a loud laugh, I don't like to wash dishes and I might as well admit that I shamelessly brainstorm new jewelry designs while people think I am listening to them talk.
Thank you for visiting my shop!
Desirée, Mano y Metal ♥
Desirée, Mano y Metal ♥
Here is this embarrassing video I made back in 2011, haha. LAWD.