Love, Weddings, and New Orleans

I love destination weddings, mostly because I love to travel and secondly, what’s not to love about a celebration of love?? Two weeks ago, my family and I flew from Seattle to New Orleans to attend our niece’s much anticipated nuptials and it was magical to say the least. If you have never been to a New Orleans wedding, then I feel you may be missing out on something so different, and so unique, it might be worth planning one for yourself – even if you’re already married! I don’t know if it’s the Southern hospitality that is so alluring, the sunshine in late October, the old French architecture, the cuisine of the region, or the music that makes New Orleans such a special place, perhaps it’s a combination of it all, but there is a sense of freedom and most of all fun, from which you cannot escape.

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The setting was at the Maison Dupuy, www.maisondupuy.com situated at an ideal location in the French Quarter. It was originally the location of the nation’s first cotton press, but was turned into townhouses later. In the early 1970’s all four townhouses were turned into one large hotel, surrounding a beautiful courtyard, complete with a bubbling fountain, twinkling lights, and of course, a swimming pool. It reminded me of the South of France and I was transformed every time I stepped out of our room.

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Our first days of our visit were filled with exploring the streets, visiting landmarks like Jackson Square, and of course eating in several of the famous restaurants New Orleans is known for. We had hyped up the beignets from Cafe Du Monde to our kids, so that was first stop on our list..

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The trip was kind of geared around every next meal divided by every next event which meant more food and drink.. This was more like a culinary tour than a wedding at times, but that’s just how we roll in our family – food is the bond that keeps us together! Laughing and sharing stories around a table is what our life is about – exploring new tastes makes it a fun way to expose our kids to differences that we celebrate. From restaurants like Cochon and Tableau to brunch at The Ruby Slipper or Stanley’s and on to oysters at Acme, we made our way through the town using our taste buds.

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My children have an incredible bond with their cousin, the beautiful bride – she is quite a remarkable young woman – the type of person who brings out the joy in us all. She invited them to be the ring bearer and flower girl, and they both took their job very seriously. It was quite an honor for them and I’m certain they will both remember the experience forever. My daughter was included in every step of the celebration, as was I, the matron of honor, (which sounds really old, but it’s just a title)..There were lunches, pedicures, photos, more lunches, cocktails, parties, and then the big day. The bride had booked a suite at the top of the hotel overlooking the courtyard where she would be married, and we girls got to play dress up all day long before the big event. It was quite a day of luxury for all of us, and I may have opened up Pandora’s box for what my own daughter might want if and when she decides to tie the knot.. the bar has been set..

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As the matron of honor I took the opportunity give a small token of love to the other bridesmaids, a small bonding symbol of the love we all share for the bride. I chose the delicate Amber bracelet to give to everyone, including the future Mrs. Fairbank. It’s  a stunning little bangle with a plate of crystals , but not overbearing in sparkle. A perfect piece for a wedding, but cute enough for the girls to wear on even the most casual of days..

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The girls were also treated to a unique t-shirt from the be.line…Each of the bridesmaids received a different shirt with a different saying and as one might guess.. the bride got “be: happy”… After all isn’t that what we all hope for a bride to be?

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And at last the event was to commence…we waited in our room with a view for the signal to come down. Every time I look at this picture I get emotional. My kids were so curious, and so filled with excitement….

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The wedding was  spectacular , filled with immense love for the bride and groom – a true celebration of the couple, both families, and the bonds we have with one and other. My sister-in-law should be commended for the planning and work she put into making it all happen. She has a true knack for decorating – it’s her profession after all – and I think this wedding was her masterpiece. I’ve never seen so many white flower arrangements in my life – it was breathtaking.

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 And the final touch to the quintessential New Orleans wedding…the second line. Nothing could be a better way to finish the night than dancing in the streets with the bride, groom, (and the rest of the city!) It was a perfect ending to a perfect beginning….

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Seattle Girls, Creative Spirit, and Conversation Starters

Wednesday night I had the opportunity to attend an event hosted by the very talented and famous Seattle Lifestyle Blogger, Cass Lavalle of Coco+Kelly. It was the launch of her new venture, Emerald Studio, a project she aims to encompass interior design, supper clubs, party planning, and I’m sure, educating others on how to live a fabulous life.  In the last few years I have had the privilege of becoming friends with some incredible women from Seattle – all by chance, and all because of art, and as I think back upon the trail that lead me to these girls who are in my life, I am reminded of the saying that whatever we project, we tend to attract.

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The fun started out at E. Smith Mercantile, my new all-time favorite shop/ bar/restaurant/kitchen/science lab/classroom. Kim Brooks, the Seattle stylist, Erin Gainey, founder and president of the Seattle Design Foundation, and I cozied up for some serious cocktails created by E.Smith’s mixologist extraoridnaire, Brandon. It was belly up to the bar where I was introduced to Kate and Jessie – the mother/ daughter team who are half of the family running E.Smith. Needless to say, these women are the real deal – open, loving, creative, and crazy fun. If you’ve never been to E. Smith Mercantile, you need to plan to right away – the storefront is filled with beautifully edited items, hand selected by the girls. Kate has her own Apothecary skin care line which she creates right there in the science lab below. And, Jessie, well if you google Jessie you’ll find her list of talents are endless.. designer, teacher, creator, all around amazing woman…You’ll find trend-setting clothes, stunning jewelry, cards, kitchen items, all for the “in the know” crowd. After you browse through everything you need, head back to the bar – a smooth black granite countertop  in the shape of a horseshoe magnet – that truly attracts everyone who walks through their doors. The experience is unlike any other in city, not just because the drinks are so good, or the food is so delicious, but the vibe and the energy that the owners and staff project is over the top fun. This is the ultimate in doing what you love and loving what you do..
Then it was off to the event.. The launch of Cass Lavalle’s new venture, Emerald Studio was in the 95 Yesler Creative Space, and what a gem this is. If you ever get the opportunity to visit this building or decide to attend one of Cass Lavalle’s events, just stepping into the space will make it worth your while. One step into this creative space and you know these women who work here are changing the world. Cass is one of several talented women making waves in Seattle, and not surprisingly, they all share space here in Pioneer Square.
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We were treated to handcrafted cocktails and canapes created by Chef J.J. Proville, who by the way, was voted one of Seattle’s next hot chefs by the Seattle Met magazine. I wish I had taken more pictures because the rest of my evening was spent laughing and chatting with some of Seattle’s most creative women, like Brandy Brown of Maraboudesign, Moorea Seal, Olivia Knapp, the list goes on. What I felt in that room was really magical and as I reflect, what I loved so much about the evening was that everyone I met was completely filled with excitement, creative spirit, and genuine joy for others’ successes.
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As a side note, I’d like to leave this blog with a couple of thank yous. One, to my dear friend Erin Gainy who is as beautiful inside as she is on the outside.Her work with the Seattle Design Foundation is inspirational and she’s a real maverick.  I’d also like to thank my friend Angela. She stayed at my house over the weekend and sneaked off with a pair of my black ankle boots that I’d probably had opted for to complete my outfit for the night.. Since the boots were absent from my closet, and on a trip to Portland, I had to choose a pair of fun sexy pony hair pumps. This was the best thing ever in the end. I met more people because of those shoes, so I’ll leave you with my conversation starters.. It’s my “Owed”  to Pony…shoe
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Please check out the following creative works by these very talented Seattle Women (and man): www.seattledesignfoundation.com, www.maraboudesign.com, www.oliviaknapp.com, www.mooreaseal.com, www.esmithmercantile.com, www.cocokelley.com, www.chezjjp.com, kimbrooksstyle.com

On Going Global

I moved to Africa when I was just ten years old. My father had taken a position with the American International School of Lagos, Nigeria, so we packed up our things, bought a ton of non-perishable items, and headed off to West Africa. Little did I know at that age, what an incredible impact West Africa would have on my life. Firstly the experience of adapting to a new way of life, being introduced to new cultures, and embracing differences proved to be some of the most valuable gifts my parents could have ever given me. As I grew, and as my experiences expanded, my very narrow view of the world vanished and the veil was lifted. What I realized at a young age was that borders don’t create the differences we think they do. Language and looks may be different, religion maybe, but as humans, we all react to laughter, we all appreciate a kind gesture, we feel pain, and we love our families and the time we spend with friends. We also love to create.

Unless you’ve traveled to West Africa or you’re an art aficionado, you may not be privy to some of the incredible pieces created by the artists from this region. Many of the below mentioned artists have been showcased in some of the most prestigious galleries in the world and their works can carry price tags in the six figures. On a recent trip back to Nigeria I had the pleasure of staying with some very dear friends who over the years have amassed quite a collection of art from that area of the world. In fact, my friend’s passion for West African art has now landed him an official position with Bonhams Auction House based in London as the representative for that region. On that same trip I had the pleasure of meeting two incredible young women from Italy who landed in Lagos with a vision for fashion, and who have taken the town like a storm. They represent the generation of people who believe success in business goes hand in hand with the empowerment of others. With the launch of their fashion label, Kinabuti, they are mixing runway fashion and grassroots education for local Nigerians who want the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty and be a part of the skilled workforce. There’s nothing better, in my opinion. With a funky vibe and a wicked since of social media on their side, they are attracting bankers, investors, local celebrities, as well as foreign officials and foreign media. I invite you to visit their website at www.kinabuti.com and check out the what the buzz is all about.

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I mention these people because they represent the fusion of humanity. It was with this fusion in mind when I first designed my Ibeji ring., I was living in Mexico, an American who spent most of her life in and out of West Africa and Europe, and I was working with a local silversmith, trying to create a few small pieces to begin my “new venture”. My heart and my inspiration kept bringing me back to my African experience, and as I thumbed through countless books on African art, I knew that if I didn’t create something that came from my soul, filled with such love and light, I would never be happy with the end results. With the encouragement of a dear friend who was also a designer, we created about ten pieces, all with an African influence, and I never looked back.

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As I’ve developed my line, I’ve changed direction for a few collections within, but my love of Africa still shows how connected to that region I am. I hope my customers feel that connection to other cultures when they wear my pieces and understand how bonded we really are as humans through art, design, fashion, music, and literature. I leave you  with one of my favorite pictures of me as a young girl trading jewelry with a young Masai girl. Maybe it was already written in the stars that this would be my journey.

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For a peek at some incredible West African artist visit www.octobergallery.co.uk/artists/anatsui/  and www.mutualart.com/Artist/BenEnwonwu/

be: twelve.. what it means

If you’ve followed football for awhile and if you’re from Seattle, you probably know how incredible it’s been to be a part of the cheering squad here in the Northwest. For decades, Seattle fans waited with bated breath for the one team that would change their lives forever, would bring great pride to the city, and act as a uniting force for the Washingtonians. Being a fan has become more of a movement and to me it’s become a reminder that when communities come together for a positive idea, incredible things can happen.

When we began our own journey of jewelry design and creation, the be.line was only going to be created for bracelets and necklaces, but putting the message out there on t-shirts seemed like just as good an idea. What we choose to be is really entirely up to us and when we wear it, we become it, and that is really our message. We can choose happiness, we can choose joy, we can choose who we are.. And so with the launch of our new and improved website, with so many new products and lines, it seems fitting to begin by introducig our be: twelve.

To be twelve is to be connected, to push through adversity, to stand tall and strong, to come from behind, and to work together to achieve the biggest dreams imaginable. I feel like this path to where we are now has been met with ups and downs, but has involved so many amazing people along the way. I am constantly reminded  that I am surrounded by people who have joined together to help me, teach me, support me, and come as a loving group with a common goal. Hopefully this is the beginning of great things.Wear our be: twelve t-shirt and be a part of a group who understands what together really means.

be: fearless

 

Starting something new can be a daunting task. Risk taking has that word “risk” in it that can turn us all off because most people fear the unknown. However, the interesting thing about starting something new is that with each step forward, doors begin to open up, new knowledge is acquired, and if you are open to it, new relationships are formed. I start my first blog with this title because, well, writing a blog is new to me…(even though it’s 2014.. I should get with the program), building a website is new to me, and quite frankly designing jewelry was new to me at one point too. After six years of practice and study, I still don’t feel like I’ve even scratched the surface of all I need to know, but it’s a path that is evolving and I will share this experience with you. As a mother of two young children, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend, my life can get kind of crazy – throw in starting a new business and it can get borderline chaotic. That being said, unless we tackle each day with the idea of being fearless, we may never reach our true potential. We may never realize just what we’re capable of.

This month is breast cancer awareness month, and if you know of anyone who has fought this disease, I’m sure you know that these women are fearless. Please make sure you get your screening and stay on top of your health. This month also marks the launch of the Empowerment Project: a docu-series about women across America who were asked, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”. The film has opened up an amazing dialogue amongst men, women and kids, and shines a light on what roles women have in shaping our world. And finally, after some painful imagery and terrible choices made by some very visible sports figures, Seattle’s Russell Wilson has become the spokesperson for “Pass the Peace”, an aim at preventing and bringing more awareness to domestic violence.

I know the above doesn’t really have anything to do with jewelry, or fashion, or business, but it does have everything to do with women’s issues and since women are my customers, (and I’m a women,) talking about being fearless is a good place to start. I hope you continue to check back occasionally to see what’s new and what has sparked my need to share. We have a beautifully updated website, brand new products and we’ve added a fabulous t-shirt line with jewelry to match very soon. We are extremely excited and hope you are too! And with that, I leave with a quote by author Jack Canfield, ” Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Let’s get to the other side and be the best we can be.