Small Town, Big Name: The Woman Behind Beyoncé's Jewelry

Photo contributed by Ellen Hunter NYC

Photo contributed by Ellen Hunter NYC

With toilet paper gripped in her tiny hands, a young girl named Ellen Hunter rips apart the roll, piece by piece. Most kids like to play and make a mess, but this six year old is making a product. She takes the pieces of toilet paper and, along with a little bit of scotch tape, creates the perfect miniature wedding dress for Barbie’s big wedding day.

“I was always creating something,” Hunter said.

Years later, Ellen Hunter now designs jewelry and hair accessories for her company Ellen Hunter NYC which can be found at Kleinfeld, Bergdorf and Goodman, and Henri Bendel.

Hunter had a vision for her company since its creation. Starting out fresh from college, she apprenticed for a woman from her hometown.

“She did not have lofty goals to get her jewelry on celebrities, and mainly wanted to keep the company under the radar,” Hunter said.

Going in the opposite direction, Hunter aimed higher than her mentor. The work paid off when she saw her products being worn by stars like Beyoncé, Carrie Underwood and Ariana Grande.

“From day one, I just imagined getting into the top stores,” Hunter said. “I envisioned super early on that celebrities would be wearing my jewelry.”

Hunter had exactly one minute to pitch her line of jewelry to buyers at Henri Bendel, an upscale women's store based in NYC. That “elevator pitch” landed her the opportunity to test her product at their trunk show.

“I was always creating something.”

She was their top-selling trunk show of that season, saying she owes her success to perseverance and never letting her company slip away.

Despite her growing success in her company, her production remains personal. Unlike so many entrepreneurs that came before her, she stands today as the lone ringleader of her company.

“My company is still a one man show. Actually, Manny is my HR team,” Hunter added, pointing to Manny, her small lap dog.

Hunter traded her small-town Tennessee life for the fast-paced streets of New York City to pursue her career, but in order to do this, she had to go beyond her comfort zone.

“Take really big risks,” Hunter said. “We live in a world where people are telling you to play it safe, but the worst that could happen is you hear a ‘no’, and that is not going to kill you."