Shining the spotlight on a creative autodidact

Striking out on your own is incredibly exciting. But it’s also nerve-wracking. It’s a challenging time when you often feel vulnerable and exposed. What if nobody likes my work? What if nobody places an order? What if I can’t come up with new ideas?

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Oksana Belo launched an online business to sell her quality hand-crafted designs. A self-proclaimed autodidact, she created her own jewelry line despite not having any formal background in design.


Born from a desire to wear quality lasting pieces that truly complement her unique and individual style, and armed with nothing more than books and intuition, Oksana set out to create her own line.


Soon she was selling pieces. First to friends, then to customers in cafes, and even to a stranger on the street who stopped her to ask where she’d bought those fabulous earrings.

When I discovered OBELO jewelry, it was love at first sight. So I approached Oksana to learn more about how it came to be.

Russia to the USA: what were the main cultural differences you encountered?

I moved to Portland with my family when I was a preteen. It was quite a culture shock. Honestly this question deserves a dissertation. On the one hand, people are people. We all want the same things: love, happiness, freedom! While on the other hand, there are so many differences. There’s the obvious ones, like a different language, to the small everyday things, like food preferences. It might seem strange to my American friends, but I don't drink soda pop. I just never developed a taste for it.

What drew you to design and create your own jewelry line?

I’ve always been creative and artistic. I graduated from a Music Academy, attended an Art Institute, and have done a number of artistic projects. Plus, I’ve always loved beauty and fashion. So jewelry design was a natural evolution for me. I feel it’s a synergy of all the things I love. And it makes me so happy and proud to see other women wearing my creations.

What’s been the hardest things about going it alone in business?

I would have to say figuring everything out for yourself. There’s no one whose back you can hide behind. You have to take full responsibility for everything. And I mean EVERYTHING!

What’s been the best thing about being in business for yourself?

You’re calling your own shots. You are the boss! And it’s a great feeling knowing you’re doing something you want to be doing, something you believe in. A friend recently said, “Live your life by your design, not default.” I couldn’t agree more.

Where can people purchase your unique designs?

All my work – bracelets, earrings, necklaces, the wedding collection – is available via my website OBELO Jewelry. I also design one-of-a-kind pieces for that very special gift or occasion. If anyone reading this post places an order before the end of April 2016, they’ll receive a 10% discount on their order by using the coupon code 'AScribingHand'.

Best business app?

I've yet to find it, but I'll let you know when I do.

Best book or blog?

Dream destination?


If you enjoyed this, you might also like to read my interview with the very talented sculptor, Jennifer Mann.