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Meet Nancy Neill, Local Jewelry Desiger

May 5, 2017

Inspired by her mother’s talent for jewelry design more than 30 years ago, Batavia resident Nancy Neill did what some people only dream of: leaving her “real job” and starting her own jewelry business.

Today she’s still creating handmade pieces found in gift shops, boutiques, and museums across the country.

In her current collection, butterfly and dragonfly designs, florals, and leaves are front and center in circle necklaces, pins, and earrings. Neill has played up the top colors of the season—including Greenery, the Pantone color of the year, as well as Lapis Blue and Island Paradise, a soft turquoise.

Neill still exclusively credits her mother’s eye for design as the launch point for her own success. What’s most unique about Neill’s jewelry is that it’s veiled in nature, using materials that celebrate the environment. Each piece may include glass beads, semi-precious stones, pewter charms, Swarovski crystals, sleek chains, and vintage brass components.

Neill’s former experience with advertising and special events for an importer & distributor of the Italian designer Gucci pairs nicely with her eye for accessories. But jewelry design was only a hobby when she went looking for a necklace for an assistant. She couldn’t find the right piece, so she made her own.  A colleague saw the piece, recognized Neill’s talent, and took her to a jewelry show. Neill made more necklaces, and the popularity of her designs traveled by word of mouth—or “word of neck,” she says.

Today, The Little Traveler in Geneva remains Neill’s longest-standing customer, and her residency in the Fox Valley is founded in that relationship. 

Neill previously lived in the San Francisco Bay Area while her mother lived in Chicago.  It was during that time that Neill’s burgeoning jewelry line was seen and purchased by The Little Traveler at a New York show. A large number of reorders followed, and Neill and her mother were curious about that. They planned a visit to the Geneva shop, but found it closed (before the store was open on Sundays). They knocked on the door of a neighboring realtor to inquire about life in the Fox Valley, and Neill and her mother’s residency in Batavia and Geneva followed from there.

Neill offers this tried-and-true advice to any entrepreneur: Start small with what comes naturally, don’t be afraid, and listen to your mother!

About The Little Traveler: Today, downtown Geneva, Ill., is still known as one of the most unique shopping districts in the Midwest, maintaining a tradition of hospitality, charm, and character. The Little Traveler, at 404 South Third Street, has remained the cornerstone of this tradition. The shop has grown from the original Italianate Victorian residence (which now serves as the center section of the shop) to 36 rooms of treasures.

Little Traveler
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