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    The Portrait

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    It’s easy to misplace Micah Bell as older than he is. He’s 5 foot 8, eye to eye with his mother. He wears a size-13 shoe. He has a jewelry business. But Micah is only 11, a dimple-faced fresh arrival to middle school. Micah’s height comes as no surprise to his mom, Stephanie. “Off the (growth) charts since birth,” she says. Same goes for the jewelry. “He’s always been a tinkerer,” Stephanie says. “He likes using his hands.” At nine years old, he built a mini vacuum cleaner out of a tube, some tape, a propellor and a DC motor.

    11-year-old Micah Bell

    Micah stumbled into jewelry making on YouTube. He was scrolling through videos on his phone when a tutorial demonstrating how to use liquid synthetic resin and molds to create jewelry “popped up, and I thought it was really cool,” he says. At first, it was a hobby. Then, in June, he hurt his ankle during football conditioning. Suddenly, he had a lot of time on his hands. And those hands like to tinker.

    Stephanie set up a little shop in the garage of their home in southeast Louisville. Wedged between Christmas decorations and a barbecue grill, Micah created at his worktable full of resin chemicals, surgical masks to avoid fumes, color dyes, sparkles, toothpicks to swirl designs into the resin before it sets, plastic molds and tools to polish and shape the jewelry. Teachers at his former school, Wheeler Elementary, were among his first customers. Then Stephanie, his self-proclaimed “momager,” created a Facebook page for Micah’s Makings. His cousin got him on Instagram, and his grandma had shirts and a banner made. By mid-summer, Micah was selling at events like the Flea Off Market. Orders started stacking up for earrings and necklaces and key rings. Micah and his mom scrambled to keep enough materials in the house. “I have had to get an Amazon Prime subscription,” Stephanie says with a laugh.

    Stephanie originally agreed that half of the profits would go back into the business or into savings, and that her son could keep the other half. “Then he bought all his friends candy bars,” she recalls with a smile. “I’m like, you can’t have this much money, dude. We have to re-evaluate.” He is only 11 — though an 11 that has traced the line between hard work and success, risk and confidence. No surprise, then, that Micah aspires to be an entrepreneur. Or maybe a blacksmith. Or maybe a professional jeweler, though he knows that might lead to interrogation by some in the sixth-grade sect. One evening in the garage, he looked over to his mom.

    “Why is it so strange for a boy to make jewelry?” he asked.

    She sighed. “I don’t know why people react that way. There are plenty of male jewelers who cut diamonds.”

    “I want to get into that. Only thing is, I’d have to be good at it,” Micah said, smiling. “I can’t go messing up people’s diamond rings.”

    This originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Louisville Magazine as the Portrait. To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

    Photos by Mickie Winters,

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