Local accessory maven Arika Michel showcases light and lovely pieces to the ladies of Bulverde Spring Branch, Texas and beyond.
Spotted! Fashion-focused ladies of the Branch are no strangers to the stylings of Rupert and Stella. The lightweight earrings have been seen on the lobes of style conscious locals from supermarkets to sporting events. Likely you have seen them and wondered where to find a pair? Well you’re in luck! In fact, the line has been gracing our area since Spring Branch fashionista, Arika Michel introduced the first pair to our community in 2015. Today, Rupert and Stella can be found in many area boutiques but also nationally in shops as far away as Alaska.
Made mainly of leather, the light as a feather line of accessories also includes cuffs and chokers. They are boldly eye-catching, yet you hardly know they are there, unlike large statement pieces from other brands. Weight is perhaps one of the main reasons the earrings are an easy piece to wear day and night. The patterns and color choices are also a draw with something available for every look – Ranger Blue has made an appearance on the ears of many a supportive team mom.
Arika’s motivation to create the line began when she found herself smitten with a pair of earrings made of just leather. “One of my best friends gave me a pair of beautiful, soft leather earrings during a girls’ shopping trip. They were so light. I thought, ‘I’d like to make something like this.’” And so she did. Not without her challenges and set backs, Arika studied jewelry design and sourced the leather. Too small to buy entire hides, Arika acquired manageable pieces from other fine leather artisans – a glove shop in Washington, a furniture maker in Spain.
The initial feedback came from the community, it seemed others were just as smitten with the light and soft leather and loved Arika’s fresh take on the design. Her friends became her focus group, testing styles and even helping with the name. “One of my friends, Erinn, is a huge dog lover and she thought of using dogs’ names,” says Arika. ”My dog is Rupert, and one of her dogs is named Stella. And that’s where Rupert and Stella got its name.”
Arika turned to online distribution to further her reach, using the popular site Etsy to introduce her line to a broader audience. The shop was met with much praise and boutiques began to contact Arika for wholesale orders. Most recently the Rupert and Stella line was shipped to a museum shop in Washington State.
The main source of inspiration for Rupert and Stella, as well as Arika’s biggest fans, remain her community and especially her husband and two sons. “We would have nothing if not for the massive support of the community,” says Arika. “It’s like receiving a big hug every time we hear something like, ‘I saw your earrings on my friend/sister/mom and I just have to have some.’ We couldn’t have done it without the warm, generous women of our community.”
Barely a few years in and the brand continue to showcase new favorites. What is on the horizon for Rupert and Stella? “Expansion, we hope! New items, new colors, maybe a standalone online store.” However convenient online shopping is, Rupert and Stella is handmade in the Bulverde Spring Branch area so locals can get a little spoiled with new styles immediately available and free porch deliveries from Arika’s crew twice weekly.
As inspired as Arika has been by the support of the community, she is an inspiration herself to others who have that burning idea in the back of their mind. “The best advice I could give to someone starting out is to just do it. Do it now, do it today. As women, most of us are so busy doing a thousand things and it’s so easy to put something off until ‘later’ or ‘when I have time’ or ‘when school starts.’ Months, years pass in the blink of an eye. Start today!
Find Rupert and Stella at various boutiques as well as online by clicking here.