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Meet Jewelry Maker and Activist Alan Pelaez ’15

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Fairfield chapter.

Name: Alan PelaezYear: SeniorMajor: Sociology and Professional Writing

Look out Fairfield, we have an up-and-coming celebrity on our hands! Meet Alan, a trendsetting jewelry designer, model and social activist who has a passion for traveling and helping other people. When he’s not in California working for UCLA or featured in TV interviews, you can find him on campus working towards his degree in Sociology and Professional Writing. Read on to learn more about this passion-driven, kind-hearted celeb and don’t forget to check out his jewelry here.

Her Campus: So, I see that you’re the owner of Pelaez | Designs, how did you get into making Jewelry?Alan Pelaez: Well, I was born in Mexico City, but migrated to the US when I was younger. Growing up as a poor Black immigrant in America, my mom was always working to make sure that I had a roof under my head and food. At about 7, I started to make bracelets out of rubber bands and beads to pay for lunch at school. I would sell these bracelets to all the businesses in my street. I lived in Boston, so it was always easy to find adults that would by my $1 bracelets (laughs). Anyway, when I was in High School, I decided that I wanted to invest my savings, which was only about $300, in materials to make real jewelry. I started slowly, but eventually self-taught myself some jewelry techniques and business 101 rules to launch Pelaez | Designs.

HC: It’s super cool that you’ve been able to expand on your design passion! What inspired you to launch Pelaez | Designs and can you talk a little about what types of jewelry you design?AP: That’s a good question! I guess that my drive came from a really big frustration in my life. I was frustrated about a lot of the violence in my community –police brutality, my parent’s low wages, and the violence against my queer and trans* community. The only times I felt like things would get better was when I made jewelry, when I made art. My jewelry is all about the experiences of people in my life. I have pieces that narrate stories of migration—pieces about the US/Mexican border that you can see on my website. I make necklaces that resemble boats from the slave trade; it’s all a spiritual journey for me. 

HC: Do you think people understand the spiritual and political meanings of your jewelry?AP: I think so. I’ve received a good amount of e-mails from people all around the US sharing their stories with me, and I sometimes translate their stories into jewelry pieces, so I think that I’m at least creating a new narrative of how to see jewelry.


HC: So it seems like you’re a pretty big social activist. What issues are you most concerned with today?AP: I think that immigrant rights are a huge concern for me, especially as an immigrant. However, I think that the biggest concern for me is the lives of transgender immigrants. It’s been very emotional work to see my friends and family members constantly struggle with acceptance, access to healthcare, access to education and access to decent work. It’s not a good thing that our society can’t see how beautiful it is when people are being unapologetically real and true to themselves.

HC: With jewelry and activism, how do you fit in the fact that you worked as a professional model in the past?AP: I was modeling around the same time that I got serious about Pelaez | Designs. It sort of happened out-of-nowhere. A close friend of mine and I did a photo shoot in Boston and I only got 1 good picture, but I sent about 75 or so applications to be considered for shoots. One day, like 7 months later, actually, I got an e-mail from a photographer interested, and that’s how it all started. I was in some magazines and runway shows modeling clothes from Nordstrom, Karmaloop, The Men’s Warehouse, and some other clothing brands.

HC: Are you still in the industry?AP: I’m not as involved as I was. I will only consider taking jobs it if it’s operating under a social justice concept. For example, if it’s a benefit show, I will most likely accept it. I will also accept jobs if the show or brand is intended to de-construct gender roles and celebrates androgyny.





Danielle was previously the Deputy Editor at Her Campus, where she oversaw social and content strategy, lifestyle, beauty, fashion, news, and entertainment. Prior to joining Her Campus, Danielle worked at House Beautiful as Senior Lifestyle Editor, directing and producing feature videos and stories. Danielle also served as Snapchat Editor at Cosmopolitan, overseeing the brands daily Snapchat Discover channel. In 2016, she launched Cosmo Bites — which is now the official food and beverage vertical at Cosmopolitan. That same year, Danielle was named as a Rising Star in the digital media industry by FOLIO Magazine. Danielle got her start in digital media by launching the Her Campus chapter at Fairfield University in 2014, where she acted as Campus Correspondent for 2.5 years, before graduating with a degree in English and creative writing. She enjoys wine, food, and long walks through HomeGoods. Follow Danielle on Instagram!