Michal Negrin: The reality of romance

Exclusive: Internationally renowned designer shares her story of commercial success, personal fulfillment.

Noa Tishby (photo credit: Alon Shapranski)
Noa Tishby
(photo credit: Alon Shapranski)
Twenty five years ago, Michal Negrin started selling jewelry at the artists’ market in Tel Aviv’s Nahalat Binyamin before opening a store on Sheinkin Street. Today she and her husband, Meir, are the owners of a jewelry, fashion and interior design empire with 60 stores in Israel and abroad, including, Japan, the US, France and Italy. Their products are developed, designed and manufactured in the company’s Bat Yam factory, which employs more than 250 workers.
Michal Negrin (Ohad Romano)Michal Negrin (Ohad Romano)
Negrin, who grew up on Kibbutz Na’an, lives in Neveh Tzedek, a Tel Aviv neighborhood that she views as a combination of a city and a kibbutz. Her husband is the president of the company, and their daughter, Yasmin, works at the factory on her own fashion brand, Stardust.
Negrin loves baking cakes and collecting unique dolls, but more than anything else, she loves her colorful and creative work.
How does it feel to have your name and work associated with an entire style?
When I started designing jewelry, I stood out in the scene because Israel was known mainly for gold and silver jewelry. I feel lucky that my job is what I like to do most and that, together with my husband, I have established a business full of optimism, color and harmony.
When I travel around the world, I meet people who say they were inspired by my work when designing their homes, and I’m happy to know that the items I designed bring joy to their lives as well.
Did your fascination with angels start in your childhood?
Growing up on a kibbutz, I always felt somewhat different. Our home was designed in my mother’s unique style. She added aesthetic elements and a personal statement to every sphere. I have always been drawn to beauty and loved using unconventional materials. From every style or time period I like, I take the elements that I relate to and use them to create a world of my own, where I change constantly. Angels used to be central in my graphics, but today I relate more to graphic stories, with a combination of interesting dolls, 3D and a contrast between revealed and concealed elements.
Do you live the style that is associated with your name?
First, I design the things I like for myself, and then I share my world with others. The fashion department of our company was conceived because I felt I had no clothes I liked to wear. I couldn’t find the colorfulness and graphic aspects I was looking for. Over time, demand for our clothes increased, and today the fashion department manufactures two collections a year, so now I always have something to wear.
In the factory in Bat Yam we set up a gallery and a visitors’ center designed exactly like my home, and that’s the feeling I want there to be when people enter my store -- a homelike and inviting atmosphere, an entrance to another world that is different from the somewhat alienated world outside.
Are you a romanticist in other areas of your life?
I’m a romantic type, but I’m also a doer. I’m constantly developing my world to dimensions I never thought I would get to, and that always fascinates me.
Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most?
I especially enjoy seeing how, every day, thanks to our staff of talented people, I can fulfill the dream I had the night before. We always have interesting projects underway, and something new happens almost every day.
A recent project I take pride in features exhibits for a new design concept in stores abroad. It’s a combination of movement, light, visual stories and color that express the optimistic atmosphere we create in our factory. I find it very rewarding.
What have been the heights of your success so far?
The international success -- every new store that opens abroad is a huge excitement. I feel like an Israeli ambassador. Apart from feeling proud, I am intrigued to meet new people and discover different cultures and beautiful places all over the world. Every time, I am thrilled by the friendships I form.
Another highlight is my daily routine -- arriving at our factory in the morning and giving life to an idea I have. I’ve been blessed with the chance to do what I love most, and that’s the biggest accomplishment from my point of view.
What characterizes your current collection?
Several jewelry categories, each from a different place. I used new materials for the first time, such as polymeric stones combined with gold and silver leaves, and golden bracelets made up of links. I gave them all a twist with turquoise and gold, unusual color combinations of green and fuchsia, as well as a line of black, gothic-style jewelry.
Why was Noa Tishby chosen to represent the brand?
Noa was a long-time dream of mine and Meir’s. When we first decided to select a presenter for the brand, her name immediately came up. She is international, but her roots are planted in Israel.
She promotes Israel, is beautiful and a great example of a woman who does what I would like to see more of: She goes all the way with her dreams, is strong, independent and still feminine and delightful. Her humor and intelligence have made me her number one fan.
If I had to choose just one of your items, which would you recommend?
The one that would best suit your personality, the piece of jewelry that would make you feel the pleasure of being a woman when you wear it. This is a statement that a customer from Singapore wrote to me, and it was our previous slogan.
Which item from your collection would you take on a desert island?
If I had to choose just one, I would take my favorite item from the latest collection. Usually when I design a piece of jewelry or a new item of clothing, I become infatuated with it and say that it is the prettiest we have ever had.