Making the Artisan FW 2016 Collection

Posted on December 08 2017

Designing a collection when your workshop is in another country is a challenge. The way I have overcome this obstacle is by taking trips to South America for two weeks twice a year. In my designs trips, I visit all of our providers, walk artisan markets, and work on improving our production techniques.

The Artisan collection is a very special collection for me. In this collection I am letting go of my fears and focusing on starting my journey to design something truly exceptional using non traditional materials. Below are some photos of my trip and my quest for beauty.

The Workshop


I always start my design trip in our workshop. Our workshop is where we develop samples, do our quality control and basically make sure things happen. In my design trips, it is where I connect back to the materials, my past projects and my core team.

When I arrive, the workshop is very neat and organized. However, everyone knows that after “hurricane Paola” hits it will have to go over major reorganization after it leaves. Whomever said that “chaos is the first step in the creative process” was right on point!

Visiting Providers

A big part of my job during my design trips is to work with our providers to improve the techniques that they have been used for decades (even centuries) so they are appropriate for sale in the United States. In this trip, a major objective was to “nail down” our gold and silver leafing procedures. To achieve this we mixed Miriam’s expertise in gold leafing with my U.S. products and research to “run experiments.”

Designing is a collaborative process. Mixing ancient production techniques with new technologies is one of the things that I enjoy the most when creating a new product.

Getting Inspired – Otavalo

Designing is a “live” process. I never know what is going to inspire me. Every time that I am in South America, I make a point about visiting artisan markets and meeting new providers and try to understand what they are working on.

Sometimes, I see a piece of jewelry that is native to the place that I am visiting and it inspires me to create something based on that little piece of history. In this trip, I found this with Marta. Marta is a traditional indigenous woman from Otavalo who taught me how to wear a traditional bracelet. Women in Otavalo have been wearing these string bracelets for hundreds of years. These bracelets signify the woman’s importance in the community: more beads = more status. The red beads in the bracelets are coral and are traditionally believed to ward off evil spirits.So many layers, it is so chic!

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