'I'm working happy': Former waitress becomes earring artist

A display of Amiel's earrings at Judy Shillingburg's Special Touch Gallery in HarborWalk Village.

When Michelle Amiel sat down in March to make herself a pair of earrings, she didn't think she would look up nearly two months later with 500 pairs of earrings to show. The Emerald Coast's newest earring designer is a life-long Destin resident with roots planted deeply in the sugar-white beaches. "I grew up on Holiday Isle before people were there, before condos were there. I actually mailed the first condo brochure for Holiday Isle," said Amiel. Amiel started making earrings during what was originally going to be a short leave of absence from her job in the restaurant business. After extending her time off on a few different occasions she eventually extended it indefinitely. "I've been waiting on people for 35 years. I just wanted to take a break and sit down for a minute; that minute turned into nearly a year," said Amiel of her decision to not return to work and instead pursue her new found love of making earrings. Amiel makes a large selection of earrings — colorful, sparkly, some are adorned with mermaids, dolphins and other nautical-themed beads, some with peace signs, some with motorcycles. "Anything really," said Amiel. She is excited about the idea of doing special orders if someone has a specific request as well. In an interview with The Log, Amiel said she was surprised by the positive feedback she received from her earrings, and she never imagined she would be selling in local galleries. She says she's excited to wake up everyday, she feels like the earrings have given her a shot of adrenaline. "I'm not just working hard now; I'm working happy," said Amiel. Michelle Amiel's earrings are currently available for purchase at Copper Penny's Emporium located at 211 Main St. and at the Judy Shillingburg Special Touch Gallery at HarborWalk Village located at 34 Harbor Blvd. Suite 214.