Just Michelle

Alright, so it’s my own fault.

Since I created my business name in junior high, people have been calling me Chelle (pronounced Shell, the second half of my name, thus the business name) which I don’t mind. People also call me Shelly, which I don’t like (sorry if you have been calling me that, I just didn’t know how to tell you). It has been going on so long that I have stopped correcting people. I love and really care about my candle fans (that is what I call my candle lovers) and I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings. So, let’s just get this out on the table…

My friends call me Michelle. (this photo is super old so a new photo is coming soon).

Just me!

Thanks for taking the time to see what I am all about.

Here is the short version (followed by the long version… if you are into that sort of thing).

  • I’m 43 but I feel 33.
  • My birthday is 9-11 (feel free to send gifts).
  • I am obsessed with taking beautiful photographs and I LOVE Photoshop. I see real life like photos in my head.
  • I don’t like cake. Ice cream cake is okay.
  • I love Karaoke.
  • I had jaw surgery when I was 15 to fix my overbite and I have 4 metal plates in my face. I don’t set off the metal detectors at the airport.
  • I talk to my brother on the phone at least once a day. Sometimes 3 or 4 times a day.
  • I can sew you a bathing suit or a pair of jeans, take your pick.
  • I have never been to the Circus.
  • I have been best friends with Heather (AKA Dude) since I was 6.
  • When I was 25, I drove Gladys Night’s purple Mercedes for a week (my car was fine but let’s face it, an egg plant colored Mercedes is pretty awesome).
  • I think my kids are two of the greatest things that have ever happened to me. I love seeing the world through their eyes.
  • I like organization in my chaotic life. Everything in plastic shoe boxes, labeled, is a dream come true for me.
  • I am more in love with my husband every day, and still get that first date feeling when we are together. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful husband and father for my kids.
  • I love to spray paint.
  • I am a night person. I do my best work at night.
  • I love to go to Walmart (don’t judge).
  • I am a good cook, but I hate cooking. You eat it and it’s good, but then there is nothing left but a mess to clean up.
  • I love people. Some of my best friends I have met in the weirdest places.
  • My mom is my biggest inspiration.
  • I am a little controlling. I like things my way. Okay, I am a control freak but I am working on it. I try not to boss people around (too much).
  • I do hair and make candles. I do not make hairy candles.
  • I love to watch TV.
  • I love to look at other photographers work. I can do this for hours. Then I want to show someone what I see (usually my mom) and I can drive them (or my mom) crazy looking!
  • If I see it, I can make it.  I have been known to whip up a creation last minute.
  • Dude says, “we are Pinterest”.  I look for stuff I am thinking about on Pinterest and it doesn’t exist there… yet!

And last and most important…

  • Jesus is my Savior. I am not perfect, but he died for me and I love Him for it!

Here is the long version (with fun pictures!)…

Well, let me see… I am not quite sure what to write here. I think it is going to take some time to really get to know all “about me”. Here is a glimpse into my growing up a creative kid and some of the high and low lights of my life so far. I already gave you the short version. If you ask anyone that knows me, I can’t tell a short story, it’s always long and dramatic (or exaggerated as Brad would say!).

In 3rd grade I co-produced and directed (with Dude, you will read about her later) “Alice In Wonderland”. We made our costumes out of paper bags and then held rehearsal every day for a week (we forced my brother and her sister to participate). We never ended up performing the actual show because our record (we were lip syncing) melted because we left it in the sun one day when we went in for lunch. Bummer.

In 5th grade I received my first sewing machine and had my first fashion show in the back yard (yep, Dude and our siblings were all in it). My dad had half finished the gazebo (he never finished any project, that is why I finish one or it goes in the trash) and it looked more like a stage than a gazebo. It was perfect!


In 7th grade I started making “Jam” shorts and selling them to my friends (they were hawaiian looking and had a big logo on the back pocket). This is when my mom (she always supported all my crazy ideas) took me to the county office and helped me get my fictitious business name and resale license. I needed a business name. Okay, so no one called me Chelle (my name is Michelle) but Michelle was too long to fit on the shorts label, and Designs By Chelle (pronounced Shell, NOT SHELLY) was born!

In 10th grade I started painting on t-shirts and doing t-shirt parties . In 1988, it was the cool thing to wear these gaudy painted outfits with beads, denim and ribbons hanging off of them. I would do 1-2 parties a week. My mom (who had sold Tupperware) taught me how to book the parties, take the orders and because I was only 15, she would drive me to parties and to deliver the orders (she is the best mom ever). I was making a killing at $200 a week. Not too bad for a 15 year old.

Logo label & shirt

My senior year in high school I designed and made a line of clothes for the school fashion show. I ended up selling my samples at the end of the show. I was voted ‘Most Likely to Succeed’ in our senior class standouts. I am very content with my life. I know I am blessed and my family and my health are what I consider “success”. So. I guess my classmates back in 1990 were right!

I made these

After high school I was told I was going to Jr. College. Signing up for classes was overwhelming and I called my mom and told her I was going to be an actress and not go to college. She didn’t laugh but told me I had to take some sort of class and work or move (not very nice). I signed up for acting class.


For 2 years I took acting classes at Grossmont College and The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. I spent a lot of time sending out head shots, trying to get an agent and going on auditions. I was doing a lot of “extra” work and I got really good at standing around. I also worked a ton of different jobs and was known to have 3 jobs at a time. I worked at Nordstrom in the alterations department, The Limited, Yardage City, and a flower shop. I worked on a kiosk cart at the mall that sold seasonal stuff, I was a fashion show dresser for Leonard Simpson and Gretchen Burns. I worked as a telemarketer for Olan Mills (I hated the job but loved working with my friends). I think this was my first exposure to photography.  I sewed bridesmaids, flower girl and prom dresses, I made jewelry, hair bows and let’s not forget my favorite…hair scrunchiis! I worked as a blackjack dealer at Viejas Casino for a whole minute. My mom and I were just talking about all my jobs and I am sure I missed a few, I just can’t remember them all.

In 1992 my mom came up with the brilliant idea that I should go to beauty school. I think she was a little worried about where I was going in life. I admit, I needed direction. I enrolled in beauty college and have been doing hair and loving it ever since. I hate it when I have to admit that my mom has a good idea. Mom’s are old and don’t know anything…right?

beauty school graduation

In 1994 I was in an elevator at USD with my boyfriend and his roommate. We were going out to a club and my man was dressed in some jeans and a vest that I had made him. He was admiring himself in the reflection in the elevator, something about how a fine dressed black man…blah…blah (did I mention he was 6’2″ HUGE black man?) and I said to them, “Yep, pretty nice jeans for your big ass!” We all started laughing and the entrepreneur in me started thinking. It was right there in that elevator that the idea of my new company, Big Ass Genes was born. Genes because the booty is in the genetics. After that I enlisted the help of my friend Michelle to help me make the patterns and the clothing. My boyfriend was going to be the sales department and we put together a business plan and some investors. I learned how to make jeans and pretty soon we had a full line of t-shirts, hats and jeans. I was quickly learning how tough the apparrel industry really was.

Big Ass Genes

In 1995 (age 23, and now you can figure out how old I am) I made my boyfriend of 3 years marry me. Big mistake. When I got married I quit dating, he didn’t. I was young and stubborn and no one was going to tell me he wasn’t marriage material. I should have listened. I guess this was about when I adopted one of my mottos, ‘what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger’ (I am so glad Kelly Clarkson finally made a song about it).

In 1997 I started my candle business. That is a whole other wonderful story.

In 2000 I kicked my cheating husband out. We split our assets and he got Big Ass Genes and I got the candle business (guess which one is still in business?). I lost 30lbs (I have always struggled with the weight thing) and got myself back. I dated a lot…blah blah blah, partied, went to Las Vegas a lot…blah blah blah. Stories for a later time (oh, do I have some good stories).

Norris Family Pic

April 2003 was a hard time in my life. Now, I have not talked about my family much in this “about me” page because it is about me…duh. But, I come from a close family. I loooove them, they are my world. My brother is my best friend and I talk to him sometimes 3-5 times a day (sometimes it is only for 2 minutes before he grunts that he has to go and he hangs up on me! Dummy, you called me.). My mom and I are super close (watch out I say super a lot). It drives Brad crazy but we talk or see each other usually every day. Now about my dad. We had always been extremely close. I was “Daddy’s Girl”. That day in April was awful. I hope you never have to go through it. Losing my dad was the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. He fell off a ladder onto his head. He spent 3 days in ICU, non communicative, before he died. My world has never been the same.

In 2003, a few months after my dad passed away, I started hanging out with Shawna’s (yes, you will hear a lot about her too) little brother. So, this is a great story (it is our little love story so…duh, I think it’s great) but to really enjoy it (and oh you will) I have to tell you all the details (not those kind, so get your mind out of the gutter). I will write about it somewhere else, soon. Anyway, Brad and I fell in love.


May 1, 2004 we got married! Sold our house in June and bought a new one July. The plan was to split the property on the new house, build a second house and flip both properties. It didn’t work out that way and we lived there 7 years.


On March 14, 2006 Teagan was born (I call him my “little skinny”). My sweet little boy was 5 weeks early and only weighed 4lbs 2 oz. My pregnancy and his birth were a little scary (long story for later) but he was healthy, and I was alive. 10 days later he and I got to come home.

On January 18, 2007, after a year and a half of trying to figure out what was wrong with me (not mentally, we all know there is something a little off there…ha), it was confirmed and I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I had been having vision problems, muscle and movement problems and some awful pain that couldn’t be explained. So, yep, a bomb was dropped on me and it was unbelievable. Not to mention I was almost five months pregnant.

On January 26, 2007 I was five months pregnant and went in for my weekly sonogram (I was high risk because of Teagan’s pregnancy). Now I want to prepare you. The reason I am so open about something so personal and devastating, is that I feel that life is about sharing and loving people. If sharing my story helps just one person then that makes the pain I went through bearable. They told me fetal death is not common, that is doesn’t happen often. It happened to us. On that day, at that appointment, I found out that my precious little baby no longer had a heart beat. On Monday January 29, 2007 I gave birth to Tatum Grace. Tatum’s death has changed me. I don’t want to go into it here but I will talk about it soon. Like I said, I want to help people. Tatum changed my life and I want to be sensitive and a blessing to others who have gone through dramatic experiences. Now, onto happy things.

On May 22, 2008 Delaney was born. She was baby no name for about two days until Brad made me name her. I just wanted to watch her and see what name she looked like. Does that make sense? The approved names (Brad wouldn’t let me name her just anything I wanted) were Landis, Sailor and Delaney. I wanted a different kind of name. There were always at least three Michelle’s in my class growing up and I wanted my kids to have their own names. Brad was getting the car and my brother came in to help me outside. I was looking at the birth certificate trying to decide and my brother says, “Nail ‘er Sail ‘er!” He is such an ass, how could I name her Sailor after that? Her middle name was to be Louise since she would be the 5th generation with that middle name and Brad didn’t want people to call her Laney Lou, well guess what!

On December 24, 2009 I received my first DSLR camera. I could finally capture those memories. I started clicking and I haven’t stopped since. I found my love for photography and I dedicated myself then to becoming more than just an average photographer. I want to be the best!

On November 13, 2010 we moved into our house we live in now. It was a rough at first because it literally fell apart after we bought it but all is good now.


January 4, 2017  life is a blessing and a gift. I try to savor every minute with my family and my friends. My kids keep getting older and it reminds me how short life really is. They have such fun personalities and bring me so much joy. We have the best discussions and I still love to see the world through their eyes. They now are old enough and enjoy helping me with all my crazy projects. Delaney is a mini me. She loves arts and crafts and she is always willing to be my photo model . I am teacher her how to edit and use Photoshop. Teagan is also very creative. He loves to watch Youtube and learn new magic tricks or designs for his rainbow loom! He even mastered the Rubix Cube. Brad is excited because we bought a motor home last march. His camping dream has come true! I am changing my focus to glamour photography and working on building that business.
Life is good.
Thanks for reading my ramblings.
Sorry about the grammar and typos, I take pictures and make things, not teach English.

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