Trigger warning: This article mentions sexual assault.
Bright, eye-catching, and bold - the earrings bouncing from beneath Marcelle’s curls perfectly match her sunny personality.
“It’s so great to finally meet you!” she exclaims, embracing us. “Now I can put faces to the little Instagram icons I know!”.
For many, 2020 was the year that put out lives on pause. But for 21-year-old Marcelle Yacoub, it was the year she launched her very own online earring business.
“It’s so interesting, because I always used to hate jewellery,” Marcelle grins. “When I was young, every single birthday, everyone would insist on giving me jewellery and I would open it and think oh god, not this again!”
The irony is obvious, as Marcelle now dedicates much of her free time - in between working and studying a double degree in Law and Arts - to her online earring business, Pieces of Marcelle.
“I always felt self-conscious wearing jewellery. I felt like I wasn’t cool enough to get away with wearing it [in school]. But then I started University and a new job and I noticed a lot of people would wear statement earrings. I didn’t feel self-conscious anymore about trying out new things,” Marcelle explains. “Then I wanted to wear statement earrings all the time.”
Today, Marcelle is wearing her signature ‘boy bye’ earrings - they’re loud, sassy and they demand attention.
“I feel more confident and happier when I’m wearing cool things on my ears”.
Marcelle launched Pieces of Marcelle in mid 2020, after a sudden strike of inspiration amidst a pretty bleak year.
“I was having a really bad mental health day… I didn’t want to do anything except watch netflix,” Marcelle explains. “A package arrived for me. I opened up the package and I saw it was a pair of earrings that I bought from a small business.”
“I started imagining what I wished was a little bit different about it - I wish it was a little bit bigger here - and then I thought, Marcelle, shut up, like you could do that. And then I thought, maybe I can!”
Marcelle recounts this moment as though it was a kind of awakening, and her entire idea for Pieces of Marcelle was suddenly before her. “It was the weirdest, most clarifying thing,” she explains. “I thought, I’m going to start making earrings, it’s going to be called Pieces of Marcelle and the pieces will reflect a theme of where I’m at in that moment.”
From that day, Pieces of Marcelle was created - an online jewellery business for Marcelle’s personally designed and crafted statement polymer clay earrings. Marcelle’s Instagram @piecesofmarcelle is an integral part of her online business where she shares the inspiration behind her thematic pieces with her followers. For Marcelle, and the online community she has cultivated, it’s so much more than an earring business - it’s a journey of healing and empowerment.
“I think people see [the Instagram and the earrings] as two different things, which is not the case, everything is very much intertwined,” Marcelle explains. “This is not just a business, it’s my life. I’m not telling stories for the sake of selling earrings, these stories are my earrings.”
In the first weeks after Pieces of Marcelle was born, Marcelle spent a lot of time reflecting on her past, her traumas and how they have shaped the progression of her life. Marcelle drew inspiration from these events into her first collection of earrings – the ‘boy-bye’ collection.
“I thought [to myself], boy-bye is going to be about healing from your sexual assault, it’s going to be about healing from your rape, healing from your last shitty relationship. I started to think about the pieces I could make to reflect that, and it all just came.”
“I realised that I would get triggered by certain things, but I started to change my thinking,” Marcelle says, speaking of her ‘boy-bye’ collection. “I realised I can make earrings about it. I thought, from now on, if I feel shit, I’m going to redirect it into my art.”
For Marcelle, the earrings are about taking control back over her life. “I feel like since I started Pieces of Marcelle my life has completely changed. It’s been so therapeutic to know I have control over how I heal. It’s the most cathartic feeling.”
Just one visit to Marcelle’s Instagram or website reveals how vulnerable and honest she is through her art. Marcelle is incredibly generous in sharing her stories, thoughts and opinions with her followers. She cites her fiercely loyal family and friends as providing the support and confidence she needs to keep sharing.
“I’m the eldest of five - I’ve got three brothers and a sister. They have all been incredible,” she says. “My friends are insanely supportive. I don’t think I would be feeling as strong as I am if it weren’t for my friends.”
As for other young creatives who are thinking about taking the leap to start their own business, Marcelle’s advice is simple – “just do it”.
“I had no idea if anyone would like my pieces,” she says. “If you want to do it, just do it, because there will be people who like your art.
“There may be moments of doubt or comments from other people that will make you second guess yourself, but those comments are more reflective of them than [of] you.”