ALICIA HALEGUA : Founder and designer, Metalskin

Escape to New York: Halegua had a typical suburban childhood in Coral Gables, attending Ransom and then UM to stay close to home. She felt it was important to operate her business in New York, but insists Miami shaped her eye for design. “It taught me to be open to different cultures,” she says. It’s all in the wrist: “I received a leather wrap bracelet as a gift and wore it all the time. Its comfort and the compliments I received inspired me to improve its design via better materials and construction in more colors, textures and styles,” says Halegua, who took nearly a year to perfect every factor, like vegetable-dyed organic lining. Her big break came in signing with a New York showroom, which placed the collection in 60-plus stores including Henri Bendel in Manhattan, Intermix and Butter in Miami and shopbop.com, which was huge. “We did a lot of high-fiving that day,” she says. Nix naysayers: “Everyone told me I was crazy to launch my company during a recession, and stores were closing up and down Madison Avenue. But I knew through my previous venture as a personal shopper that everyday accessories could update your wardrobe affordably.”

JUST THE FACTS

Favorite material: Python

What you love most about Miami: My family, the beach and wearing something short

2010 to-do list: Expand into mixedmedia necklaces, rings and belts, and lease offi ce space (we’re still working out of my living room!)

You’d also like to design: Place mats and coasters

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