This article was featured on the Brookfield NOW website.
The life of Irina Miech of Brookfield could be viewed as a series of sparkling events. Placed together like crystals on a string, they create her own unique story.
Miech immigrated in 1979 to the United States from Kiev, Ukraine, when her parents moved first to New York and then settled near friends in Wisconsin. She put herself through college as an interpreter, earning a degree in international relations and Russian.
But Miech's first love was art and fine crafts, and she began importing handicrafts and jewelry from around the world. During a buying trip to Morocco, she asked to see how the jewelry was made.
"I learned to make earrings," she recalled. "And when I came back, I was hooked."
Miech started designing her own jewelry as soon as she returned home. Within a few months, she was selling her one-of-a-kind pieces to upscale apparel shops and the Art Institute of Chicago.
"Two or three years later, I thought it would be nice to open my own little store," she said.
She opened her first bead shop in a small storefront in downtown Waukesha, where hobbyists, jewelry enthusiasts and the man who was to become her husband all walked through the door. So did an editor for a leading bead magazine, who invited Miech to write an article for the publication. It was to be the first of many, leading to a series of "how"to" books on jewelry"making addressing topics ranging from precious metal clay to wirework.
Today, Miech is the owner of Eclectica and the Bead Studio, both in the Galleria West Shopping Center, 18900 W. Bluemound Road. The shops glimmer, shimmer and shine with millions of beads, from pearls to crystals to handmade glass masterpieces.
Miech enjoys teaching and is a featured instructor at Milwaukee's annual Bead and Button Show. Her Bead Studio offers classes for beginners and professional jewelers, as well as parties for all ages.
Her biggest challenge?
"The whole," she said. "I am so happy to wear so many hats." As long as she's wearing the jewelry to match.
Irina Miech, a 5-time author and a jewelry designer, owns Eclectica and the Bead Studio, both in the Galleria West Shopping Center in Brookfield.