Local Designer Series: Wendy Nelson of Calendar Girl

Wendy Nelson has an adoration of vintage and history, and it all started when she was a little girl. She received a special gift of vintage treasures from her great-grandmother and she has been smitten with the past since that moment.

Fast forward to 1990: Wendy, who at that point had an extensive interior design background, just had a baby and was looking for a way to keep busy while at home with the newborn. She looked to her past, started Calendar Girl and hasn’t looked back since.

Each of her pieces are created in-house using authentic vintage jewels and other components, and she doesn’t just stick to designing jewelry: unique picture frames, elegant jewelry boxes, interesting belt buckles and exquisite handbags are other components of her collection. Wendy can create custom pieces for anyone looking for their broken vintage jewelry or old family heirlooms to become new again.

DG3 had a chance to speak to Wendy about her designs, plus we wanted to get in her head a bit to see what it’s really like to design for Calendar Girl.

DG3: How do you describe Calendar Girl to people who don’t know about your brand?

Wendy Nelson: Calendar Girl jewelry designs are an eclectic mix of vintage jewelry and components inspired by the grandeur and elegance of the past recreated into wearable art with a modern flair. Each piece is handmade and designed in my studio – using vintage pieces makes each piece one of a kind. I try to remain true to the unique representation of the pieces that go into each design.

DG3: Can you set the scene for your typical workday for us?

WN: My days are never structured. I work when I feel relaxed and inspired, never rushed. I love to work early in the morning with a cup of Starbuck’s coffee or late in the evening with a glass of Cabernet. My favorite place to work (when I am able) is the lake. There’s something about the color of the water, the sky and the fresh air that inspires me. Off-season, my studio is a quiet retreat filled with vintage handbags, photos, favorite quotes and my own collection of vintage jewelry.

DG3: Who or what inspires you?

WN: I have an assortment of vintage and antique pieces I’ve collected over the years that inspire my work. One is an extremely old sterling silver handbag (circa 1900s) that belonged to a young lady on her way to see her fiancé who was killed in a train accident. Another is a collection of old lockets that contain the pictures of their previous owners’ loved ones. I don’t know how I became the trustee of these very special treasures, but I feel they came to me for a reason. I look at them for inspiration. It reminds me of how each piece I create is composed of someone specials history and were once loved and cherished by them.

DG3: Where can people buy pieces of the Calendar Girl collection?

WN: You can find Calendar Girl at select local art shows, online at calendargirlvintage.com, at The Village Fine Art Gallery in the Village of Rochester Hills, or you can commission work by calling 248.719.1392.

DG3: What is your favorite article of clothing in your closet, where did you get it and why is it your favorite?

WN: My great-aunt’s fabulous 1940s raccoon coat. She showed it to me for the first time when I was 14 years old. I tried it on and I fell in love. Not only did I fall in love with the coat, I fell in love with the glamorous women, the lifestyle and the fashion. It’s when I became obsessed with everything old. I am honored to have it in my collection and will cherish it forever.

DG3: What is the best advice you have ever received?

WN: “You can’t be everything to everybody so stay true to your vision.” Love it. Live by it.

DG3: What would people be surprised to know about you?

WN: I have a unique collection of chickens.

DG3: Cats or Dogs?

WN: Dogs. Boxers in particular.

DG3: Smoothies or Milkshakes?

WN: Smoothies

DG3: Chanel or Versace?

WN: Chanel.