Meet Michelle Galindo, founder of Gala is Love, a line of jewelry based in Mexico City that pays homage to the sentimental and symbolic nature of jewelry. I met Michelle just a few months after starting Chava and immediately felt disarmed by her warm and supportive demeanor. It calmed my nagging imposter syndrome (something I am constantly trying to make peace with).
Her designs feel very true to her essence: Thoughtful, eclectic and intentional. We were lucky enough to visit her in her home in the colonia Juarez where she also has her showroom. She's in the process of moving so this may be one of the last times you'll get to see the original space that she put so much of herself into. (Undoubtedly wherever she goes next will have this same, inspiring spirit.)
I was born and raised in Tijuana. I studied business administration as my dad suggested. Studying art or design was not an option. But I was born a creative creature, so sooner or later that side bloomed and I started making jewelry as a hobby at my parent's dinner table back in 2003.
I have always adored shiny things. When I was little, I asked my grandmother to carry me to be near to her gold jewelry and touch it.
My mom hid her jewelry box from me, so I managed to climb through her closet drawers until I reached it. I started to create jewelry for myself, pieces that I dreamed of and wanted so badly but couldn't afford. That's how it all began, I wore my pieces all the time people started to stop and ask me about what I was wearing. I will never forget my first client, I made her a custom ring. I enjoyed making it but at the same time I was super nervous: What if she didn't like it? She opened the box, picked it up and then that glow in her face, her smile, her eyes, it was that bright light of happiness! In that moment I had a hunch that that's what I wanted to do in my life: Make people happy with my jewelry. It's been a journey since that day, I quit my nine to five job, moved to Mexico City and bet on my new life.
I am an empirical jewelry designer, everything I know, I have learned on the field, and learning is something that never ends.
The beauty of jewelry is that it tells your story. I collect jewelry from all the places I travel, and I love to tell the story of where I bought it, who was with me when I bought it, who made it, the materials; it's a time capsule, it tells you what was happening in that moment of life. The same happens when you buy your first diamond, or when you get it from a special someone, you get a raise at work, have a child, you graduate, someone special passes away, all important moments in life. Jewelry is a luxury amalgamation of your story for new generations to come.
Love is my number one passion, it is what it gives me the energy to pursue my dreams. I have a high bar, I'm always looking to be a better designer, leader for my team, friend, daughter, sister, aunt, partner. But what makes me wake up every morning and keep pursuing, is love.
There are so many jewelry brands out there, it is actually easy to create a piece of jewelry, there are so many jewelry workshops that are accessible. That is the easiest part. The hard part, and what the majority of the brands don't have or can't create, is a legacy that lasts. Create a world and lifestyle around the brand that resonates with the people, that's the hard part, and the secret is that just a few are capable to build it.
Building Gala is Love has made me a solitary person, I'm always immersed in my own thoughts, I go to sleep and wake up thinking about Gala is Love.
I know that I'm passionate and I'm always looking for the things that can give me peace. For example since Covid I decided not to be subjected to the schedule and rules of the fashion industry. My mission is to make people happy with my work and build a world that I want to be part of, not chase trends. I'd rather create them.
When I make a collection based on my culture, I don't do it because it is trendy, I do it because I'm an avid admirer of my roots since I was 6 years old and visited for the first time the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. I try to make pieces that are not ostentatious or loud but possess uniqueness and subtle details that are instantly recognizable, an aesthetic that felt both nostalgic yet luxurious - an amalgamation of old world meets new world - with many identifies woven throughout.
But yes, it is not easy, sometimes I want to have someone who I can share my thoughts or doubts with, about everything. I mean I have my phycologist or dearest friends which I love to talk to but ultimately I am very conscious that I have put aside my personal life to develop my business, and that's something that I'm willing to and working on changing. Please don't get me wrong, I'm happy and grateful with all I have achieved but there are consequences when you create and develop your own business.
I don't know how to describe my personal style, but what I know is that I like to invest in good, quality, timeless (materials and design) pieces that will grow old with me and always look good. I like to play with my wardrobe. I have a collection of huipiles which I wear with huaraches or Chanel flats it all depends on my mood. I went this summer to Paul Bert Market in Paris and bought two beautiful vintage nightgowns from 19th century in an extraordinary cotton, lace and hand embroidered little flowers a la Sur de la France that I'm planning to wear as dresses with my old, distressed Doc Martens. I like to play and have fun pretending I'm different characters based on my outfits!
Three pieces of jewelry I never take off? It depends in which phase of my life I am in ... at this moment it's a huge Dome Japanese pearl ring, Malinaltepec Mask ring combined with two eternity diamond bands, a Trillion diamond pinky ring and my Tennis necklace and bracelet all from Gala is Love. I'm like Prince, I love diamonds and pearls! I like fine jewelry pieces that I can dress up or down.
Photos by Alexia Puga Ramirez Garrido