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A polished jewel

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Ella Ortego sits atop of a desk as she shows off some of the different styles of jewelry that she has made. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)

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Ella Ortego, the 12-year-old daughter of Jeremy and Amy Ortego, sold some of her handmade jewelry at the Sunset Jam this past Saturday. Pictured here are Ella (center) and her grandmother Mona Ortego (left) as they give change to a customer (right) who bought a piece of jewelry. (Photo courtesy of David Ortego )

Ella Ortego breathes new life into family heirlooms as the 12-year-old’s first business endeavor

By: TONY MARKS
Associate Editor

Some children spend most of every minute of their free time in front of a television or a computer screen. One Ville Platte 12-year-old, Ella Ortego; however, spends her time making her own jewelry, and marketed some of her crafts at the Sunset Jam Saturday in Sunset.
“It’s really special to be able to do this,” Ella said. “I didn’t think I’d ever be able to sell my jewelry. I thought I would just wear it myself or give to my friends for a birthday gift.”
According to her grandmother Mona Ortego, “She’s the first 12-year-old that ever had a booth at the area monthly craft event.”
Ella, the daughter of Jeremy and Amy Ortego, first got interested in jewelry from seeing items on Pinterest. She said that she “thought it would be cool to make some.”
“She loves antiques, which is odd for someone her age,” Mona said. “We went to an antique shop and saw some dangling earrings. I said I would like mine to look like this because I had a pair that is too long for me. She said that she could fix them.
“One of the ladies that worked there was listening and got her interested in selling jewelry,” Mona continued. “That’s how we decided to attend the Sunset Jam. Ella was so excited to do that. We cleared it with Mom and Dad, and that’s when we got started buying things and getting set up.”
What Ella sold in Sunset were earrings and rings that she made using beads that came from bracelets or necklaces and some earrings. “Some of the beads came from my grandmother’s old jewelry that she didn’t want anymore, and we bought some new beads from Hobby Lobby,” she said.
Some of the beads Ella used were 30-year-old Cloisonné beads that Mona and David Ortego got in New Orleans. These Cloisonné beads are the most unique because they are harder to find. She also used purple glass, starfish, beige beads, and stones of different shapes, styles, and colors. “I have a few favorites,” she said, “but my favorite style is the starfish because it reminds me of the beach. I also really like the green pebbles that came off of a bracelet my Dad gave to my Maw-Maw years ago.”
Ella begins the jewelry making process with some hooks and wire and grabbing some old or new beads. “There’s some wire that has a little circle around it,” she said. “Whenever you slip the beads on, they can stay and won’t fall off. Then you kind of twist the wire to make a little hoop so you can go around to clip it.”
Ella made close to 50 pieces of jewelry for the Sunset Jam. “I put a burlap table cloth over the table,” she said. “I simply just put them on the table, and I had a homemade sign on an easel. It’s all about the presentation. I also learned about the cost of items, time to make them, and what makes people buy them. People like a story associated with the item. It’s how you present it. ”
Besides making jewelry, Ella is artistic in other areas as well. According to her grandmother, “She actually can take a cardboard box and reconstruct it to make something else out of it. She designs things, and we’re amazed at what she does and designs.”
“Her sister Sydni is pretty artsy also,” Mona added. “She helped Ella with her poster and gave her some of her beads from old necklaces.”
Ella is beginning her seventh grade year at Sacred Heart where she is also an alter server. “I like to dance, but the reason why I like to make jewelry is because I like to do a lot of crafts.”
She said that she wants to keep experimenting and getting better and said that making jewelry and other crafts is special to her. The most important lesson about selling her jewelry in Sunset was learning about the business side of things. “She did learn that it wasn’t cheap to get started,” Mona said. “It was an investment to start off with, and it might take a while to get your investment back.”
“I think it might just be a little hobby that I do,” Ella said. “I don’t know if I would like to pursue it as a job. I was planning on starting to do some bracelets, but I don’t think I’ll be doing any necklaces. It’s a lot of work to make the jewelry, but it’s really fun.”
Mona concluded,” My husband David and I really enjoyed spending quality time with our granddaughter Ella in her first business venture.

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