About the ModelMeet BRAVA's February cover girl
Photographed by Shanna Wolf
Full Name: Elle Azul Duncombe-Mills
Occupations: Freelance writer, photographer and jewelry designer/maker
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
My younger life was spent constantly on the move; I’ve lived in Costa Rica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, California, Maine and Maui. Madison has been home for the past year now, though my wandering soul is pulling me away yet again. The next adventure is Oahu!
Why have you been on the move so much and what’s taking you to Hawaii?
My family is nomadic at heart. My father is a sailing captain and musician, my mother is a clinical psychotherapist and my older sister is an artist, so everyone’s passions certainly lend themselves to a wandering lifestyle. For [my partner] Nick and I, Hawaii is a great next step for a couple of reasons: family is there, and also my jewelry business is also poised to open in several more boutiques throughout the islands.
Where did you go to school?
I attended Grinnell College [Iowa] where I graduated with honors both in Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies and Studio Art. I also met Nick there.
Where did your passion for making jewelry come from? What materials do you use? What inspires your designs?
I have always been a creator. As a child I would constantly paint, draw, sew and write—always seeking to create beauty out of whatever environment I was in. Jewelry was a natural progression from that state of mind, I think, and was born of a passion to create something as yet unseen to the world. Inspiration for my current line, the “Silver Leaf Collection,” draws directly from nature; using sterling silver, I aim to capture wonders like the gentle curves of newly budding leaves, the fleeting glimmer of dewdrops and the delicate rustling of loose petals in the breeze. My inspiration is truly infinite.
What are your dreams for the business?
My vision is to expand the line with fresh, new designs for the ears and the neck, and eventually to sell in boutiques throughout the U.S. and possibly Europe. Right now, though, you can find the line at Grasshopper Goods in Madison and A. Ell Atelier in Kauai. I also have a limited amount available for purchase online at elleazul.com.
You are a freelance writer. What subjects are you passionate about?
One of my greatest joys is learning: I constantly seek exposure to unfamiliar perspectives and ways of life, and I think that is reflected in my writing. I look for stories that involve meeting new people and learning about their lives, or traveling to places I’ve never been before. By embodying this openness and zest for life though my writing, I hope to encourage others to seek new and unfamiliar experiences and thrive by doing so.
Any advice for fellow creatives who are just starting out?
Confidence in your craft is absolutely key. Equally important, though, is having mentors to guide you along the way. I have incredibly talented and caring mentors for my jewelry, writing and photography, and they have each been invaluable to my success.
Your name is very interesting. Why did your folks give it to you?
My name is a combination of my blue eye color and my gender. So my parents took “she blue” and translated it into the two languages they spoke, French and Spanish. And so I was named Elle Azul!
We hear you have an interesting pet. Explain!
We do! His name is Santiago (“Santi” for short) and he is the cuddliest ball python in the world. His favorite activities include exploring the apartment, climbing over tree branches and licking peoples’ noses.
Check out Duncombe-Mills’ looks from La Lingerie in Madison at BRAVAMagazine.com.