While chain mail can typically be used to create a medieval knight costume, a former UCF Knight used chain mail to create her future career.
A class of 1998 alumna, Jennifer Nyiri took her passion for art and her degree in graphic design to make a career selling handcrafted jewelry and accessories — right from the family room in her home.
In 2012, Nyiri created Alyce n Maille, a website name inspired by Alice in Wonderland and chain mail, also known as chainmaille, a series of links or rings connected to or fitted into one another.
After a successful website launch, she began receiving orders from all around the world, including France, Great Britain, Germany, Brazil and Hawaii.
"You get to create these amazing pieces of art and it's amazing to see where this stuff is going," Nyiri said.
Her talent and persistence gave her the opportunity to have her jewelry sent to TV stylists to be featured on the CW's Vampire Diaries and Jane the Virgin.
Nyiri's blue forest pendant necklace was worn by actress Nina Dobrev in Diaries' season 6 finale, along with a pair of keepsake earrings featured on Candice Accola.
A blue twist necklace also made a finale appearance on Jane the Virgin, worn by Carrie Madsen.
Before the TV-show popularity, Nyiri followed a career path in multimedia art, where she worked at JHT Inc., a UCF-area disabled- and veteran-owned business that provides training in instructional design, multimedia production and professional graphic design.
Being laid off after working there for four years, Nyiri became a freelance for JHT for a few years and then worked as an overflow artist, an artist who can't be kept on payroll, until 2014.
With a full-time job, Nyiri decided it was better for her to focus on her marriage and raising three sons, while digging a little deeper in her creative side.
"I know I wanted to do something in the creative field. I am always wanting to learn new things," Nyiri said.
While surfing the Web, she came across a dragon scale bracelet, which sparked her creative outlet.
"I had never seen anything like it," she said about the bracelet. "When I researched on how to create the dragonscale weave, the more I became intrigued about chainmaille."
After making it, Nyiri showed her friends, who instantly loved her work and wanted to buy it.
"It's very rewarding to make something that people want. It's so much more satisfying to make your work. It's worth the blood, sweat and tears," she said.
She gains inspiration for her pieces from everything around her, whether it's nature, music or even video games.
"It's neat because it's something totally different. I wasn't on the computer. After 15 years [of design], you just get tired and you want something new and fresh," Nyiri said.
After continuing to make her own pieces, Nyiri's friends weren't the only ones who were fans of her work. On May 2, 2013, Nyiri became a member of The Artisan Group, a premier entertainment marketing organization, after being invited to join.
The invitation-only organization introduces Hollywood to the handcrafted movement by providing celebrities, industry leaders, VIPs and members of the press with an array of handcrafted products for marketing opportunities.
Through TAG, Nyiri's jewelry has not only been showcased in TV shows, but has been gifted at GBK's Luxury Gift Lounges for the 2013 and 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards, as well as 2013 New York Fashion Week.
"I remember I was drawn to [Nyiri] because of her expert chainmaille capabilities and loved the fact that she uses the highest quality materials in her pieces," TAG founder Valerie Guerrero said.
Members of the organization have placed nearly 300 handcrafted products on more than 25 hit television shows.
"Words can't describe how grateful I am to be a part of the group. I have friends from all around the world," Nyiri said.
As for what's next for Nyiri, she plans to focus on more celebrity events, while also working to send more of her pieces to TV stylists.
"TV shows are like my baby. You hope you get what [stylists] are looking for and hope you did enough research. It's like a challenge," she said. "Game on, let's do it."
Browse her shop
Marina Guerges is the Editor-in-Chief at the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @marinaguerges or email her at MarinaG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.