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Timeless Grace


School Counselor Reveals Her Alter Ego as Jewelry Designer


Written by

Arlene Hisiger


“We’re more alike than different,” might seem an unlikely worldview for the creator of one-of-a-kind vintage jewelry pieces, yet Ashley Caccamise insists it is a verity to live by.

Her fascination with human behavior began at an early age. After working in “hardcore” human service agencies where her slight size caused her to realize that she “needed to be good with words,” she chose to enrich her existing store of psychological knowledge by pursuing a Master of Arts in Counselor Education at SUNY Brockport.

Currently working as a school counselor within the public school system, Caccamise credits her students as her real teachers.

Describing her students, who are challenged by a variety of life barriers, as “some of the most courageous young people I know,” she views her mission as being present and supportive of what they do. “I walk with them through their journey, not ahead or behind. I tell them: ‘trust the process, wait it out, stay the course,’” Caccamise said, sharing the mantra familiar to all her students.

For Caccamise, it’s all about planting seeds and fostering growth even if the growth is not immediately apparent. She accomplishes this by watchful waiting, observing behavior, and noting behavior triggers.

She applies some of these very same skills when assuming the role of her alter ego, ZiLLA’s QuEen’s Victoria ZiLLA, mistress of vintage remix. At jewelry shows, where Zilla displays her inventive meld of vintage and modern necklaces, brooches, bangles and notebook adornments, she gauges customer interest by non-verbal cues such as widened eyes, or by comments that hint at a person’s emerging connection with a particular piece.

Through her design pieces Zilla aims to evoke a simpler time. “I really believe,” says Zilla, “that I was born in the wrong era.” Citing Grace Kelly’s poise and regal bearing as iconic role model, Zilla masterfully mixes her sui generis pieces to recreate a ‘20s or ‘40s feel with a modern twist. “With vintage remix I’m given permission to continue to celebrate its [the jewelry piece’s] life by making it modern,” she explains.

Her necklaces, a delightful profusion of shapes, colors and textures, artfully combine at her command. Each piece, whether of her own creation or customized to a customer’s specifications, contains two constants: a silver or gold-toned crown shape charm, alluding to her “queenly” status and a silver or gold-toned heart or bird-shaped charm, alluding to her celebration of the love and light of life’s journey.

On September 19th her mirror images will converge in a defining charitable act.

Caccamise/Zilla is a volunteer for the Al Sigl Community of Agencies and is on the planning committee for their upcoming Fine Tastings event. In honor of the organization’s 50th anniversary she has donated a necklace to be auctioned as part of the evening’s silent auction.

As she recently told Peggy Fortune, Marketing Coordinator for the Al Sigl Community of Agencies, “An anniversary is about a journey. This piece will celebrate the love, the light, and the people who have been a part of that journey.”

And therein lies the key to undoing Caccamise/Zilla’s seeming incongruity; even her singular works of art are alike in that they bear the stamp of her passionate dedication to the things she undertakes.



Contact Arlene at 585-442-6108 or arlene@wordtailor.net
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