HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE JEWELRY INDUSTRY?
The power of jewelry has always intrigued me. It is the one accessory that can define a person’s style in an instant. As a wardrobe stylist, I could count on a fabulous piece of jewelry to nail a look! When pulling a look for styling, I remember being frustrated when I couldn't find the extravagant pieces I desired, so naturally I started making pieces by hand, mixing vintage elements to create something unique.
DID YOU HAVE ANY TYPE OF DESIGN BACKGROUND?
No. I studied Fashion Merchandising after I finished my undergraduate degree in Political Science. I am currently taking metal making classes. I love the feeling of hammering out copper and brass!
HOW LONG HAS YOUR COMPANY BEEN IN BUSINESS?
While my company has been in business for five years, I launched my accessories line in 2017.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO START YOUR COMPANY?
The love I have for unique style and my relentless drive to use my creativity and share it with the world.
WHERE ARE YOU BASED?
WHERE ARE YOU FROM?
Mount Olive, Mississippi. I moved to San Francisco in the 90s.
ONE WORD TO DESCRIBE YOUR JEWELRY
IS THERE A UNIQUE STORY BEHIND YOUR BUSINESS NAME?
Cocoacentric is how I describe myself. It is my aura, my spirit. While I am a woman of color and Cocoa brown describes my hue, Cocoa doesn’t have to be the color of your skin but your essence - who you are inside.
Centric represents centeredness. I aim to live in line with the laws of harmony and ultimately live a life with creativity and balance.
I combined the two and came up with this way of being, which is also a spin on Afrocentric: Cocoacentric. Being Cocoacentric means being centered and true to yourself and your style.
WHAT’S THE FIRST PIECE OF JEWELRY YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH?
A pair of tassel earrings my mom owned - a total 80s look! They are made of long silk black tassels, dangling from a gold vermeil lion’s head. When I was a kid I remember being in awe of them every time my mom wore them to parties so you can imagine how ecstatic I was when she gave them to me. I love the fact that she bought them over 25 years ago and they are still relevant - they are bold and elegant.
WHO IS YOUR JEWELRY ICON?
I couldn't honestly name one individual that would seal the deal and satisfy me as a jewelry icon. I would name various indigenous tribes of Africa, Asia, India and Native America and as my jewelry icons.
Indigenous tribes were some of the original creators and they were creative beyond my wildest dreams! Using nature to curate timeless treasures from headpieces to nose rings to cuffs to body chains. Not to mention layering to perfection! Much of what we consider today as jewelry trends, come from various indigenous tribes across the world. Now that’s iconic!
WHAT IS YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL?
Three years ago, I discovered through a reading I had with a sage that the dragonfly is my spirit animal - they are social but need their own space. Coincidentally, my first big purchase when I was in college was a diamond and abalone dragonfly necklace, not knowing it was my spirit animal.
IF A THEME SONG PLAYED EVERY TIME YOU WALKED INTO A ROOM, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
‘Cold Blooded’ by Rick James.
DO YOU HAVE A PIECE(S) OF JEWELRY YOU WEAR EVERY DAY AND IF SO, WHY?
Starting from the top:
A gold ear cuff on my left ear that reminds me to keep my heart youthful, and reveals my eclectic spirit.
On my left hand, a princess cut and round brilliant diamond rooster band my partner gave me 11 years ago.
On my right hand, my mom’s first promise ring featuring a tiny diamond solitaire. My mom’s first love gave her this ring.
ONE WORD TO DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE
LAST PIECE OF JEWELRY YOU BOUGHT AND LOVED
I would have to say instead of bought, it would be a pair of earrings I made. They are these large rose lavender tassels with light gold abalone posts. I made them from a vintage curtain rope tieback.
THE THING YOU ARE COVETING NEXT
A vintage Sonia Rykiel duster.
THE BEST GIFT YOU’VE GIVEN RECENTLY
A set of gilded gold agate coasters.
THE BEST GIFT YOU’VE RECEIVED RECENTLY
An extravagant pair of faux diamond ear crawlers. They are wild!
YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH...
...earrings! The bigger the better.
LEAST FAVORITE FOOD?
I stay away from processed foods. I cook at least four days a week, and make it a ritual to prepare a southern inspired dinner for my family on Sundays, to start off the week healthy and equipped to tackle the Monday blues.
WINE OR CHEESE?
COFFEE OR TEA?
YOGA OR BOXING?
New Orleans. Growing up, I would go there year-round. It is such a mysterious and romantic city with amazing food and authentic people.
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT?
Anywhere warm with a secluded beach.
THE LAST SONG YOU LISTENED TO?
‘Trust In me’ by Etta James.
THE LAST CONCERT YOU WENT TO?
Jay-Z 4:44 Tour.
L' Amant/ The Lover by Jean-Jacques Annaud.
SUPERPOWER OF CHOICE?
Time travel. I would love to understand why indigenous groups chose special ceremonial pieces to adorn themselves. I've always been curious about rites of passage and the ceremonial embellishments men and women tribes wore, and the meaning and story behind them.
I’m an amazing writer. I have poems I wrote over 20 years ago.
SOCIAL MEDIA OF CHOICE?
FAVORITE PART OF THE DAY?
Around 10am which is right after I have my coffee.
LEAST FAVORITE PART OF THE DAY?
Right before 3pm when I hit the afternoon slump.
YOU WON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT...
...my cell phone.
WHEN DO YOU FEEL HAPPIEST?
I feel happiest when I am in nature and the sun is peaking through the trees. You know, there's nothing like Northern California in the spring. My ultimate happy place is summer when I am camping with my family!
WHEN DO YOU FEEL STRONGEST?
When I’m creating and when I'm organized.
HOW DO YOU PICK YOURSELF UP FROM A LOW DAY?
Self-reflection. I meditate. I think about my part and my frame of thinking in the scenario. I find responsibility which in turn helps to make me stronger and not hold on to negativity or fear.
WHAT PIECE(S) OF JEWELRY MAKES YOU FEEL HAPPIEST?
My 24k vermeil cowrie shell necklace, makes me feel the happiest. It epitomizes my essence, which I believe is simple and delicate, yet strong, earthy and regal.
WHAT PIECE(S) OF JEWELRY MAKES YOU FEEL STRONGEST?
Earrings and (lipstick).
WHAT DOES JOY MEAN TO YOU?
Since I'm an artist, what brings me joy often shifts but currently, what brings me joy is how amazing it is to be a woman in 2018, especially a black woman. We are forcefully taking our narrative and creating magic in so many artistic genres. Issa Rae's HBO comedy series 'Insecure' brings me joy. It fills me up with memories of my 20s, and the show makes me giggle and I love that feeling! DANCING, brings me joy! I love to dance. I also find joy in quiet moments and laughing out loud with girlfriends!
WHAT DOES CONFIDENCE MEAN TO YOU?
Confidence is doing what you love, with love. Having a positive attitude. Owning and honoring your worth, time and talents.
WHAT DOES EMPOWERED MEAN TO YOU?
Empowered means that I can think and speak for myself. Most importantly, it means that confidence, intelligence and fierce determination are the only tools I need to achieve anything I set my mind too. Lastly, as an empowered woman, I am not ashamed of my past. I am proud of my history and I honor and respect my ancestors before me that have struggled to pave the way.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Listen to your heart. Allow your intuition to be your ally. Be rebellious and relentless about your dreams. If it doesn’t work out, it’s okay - you can pick up where you left off and gently reveal your heart again.