Thursday, August 22, 2013

East Meets West: African Jewelry Designer Thérésa Adhiambo talks Emeraude Chic

 NAISIAE necklace from Emeraude Chic's New Maasai Line

In honor of my excitement about Kenya POWERED by Rare Customs, I'm giving away one NAISAIE necklace from jewelry designer, Thérésa Adhiambo of Emeraude Chic to a lucky new subscriber to our mailing list! To join the list, visit and subscribe. Yesterday I had the chance to talk to her about the inspiration behind her new Maasai line and hear some interesting tales from the stunning polyglot.

Rare Customs (RC): Where in Africa are you from?

Thérésa Adhiambo (TA): I was born and raised in Cote D' Ivoire to a Kenyan Father and Mother who is French and Guinean.

RC: Wow, that's a bit of an African United Nations!

TA: Yes, it definitely was. One day I ate Ugali (a traditional Kenyan dish), the next day my mom was making crepes. We spoke French and English in our home and have cousins all over the continent so I was pretty Pan-African from the start.
 Thérésa Adhiambo of Emeraude Chic

RC: You went to an HBCU (Historically Black College and University), what did that mean as an African woman?

TA: My father was the first to go to college and we moved to the US when I was 15. He pushed education early on but also wanted us to know our history. I wanted to really understand the African American experience as an African in America and really just wanted to absorb it all. Going to Morgan State really gave me a stronger sense of pride in who I was and really has served me well. It prepared me to perform well and even better than my counterparts.

RC: So let's move on to fashion! You're a biologist by training - what made you design a jewelry collection?

TA:  I actually started making jewelry for for my mom when I was a kid. As I got older I started making jewelry for myself and people would compliment me all the time. Then it turned into a hobby and I was doing bridal showers and things for friends. Eventually my hobby turned into my business.

RC: Why did you decide to do the Maasai line?
Maasai woman and jewelry

TA: My first line was Sankofa and was very much West African influenced. I am still inspired by the melting pot that my family is and wanted to create a line that bridge the gap between East and West Africa. I love the spikes and colors and richness of East African culture and the strength of the Maasai people. That's where the inspiration for the line came from.

RC: Who is your biggest fashion inspiration?

TA: MY MOM! She used to make her own jewelry. She would go into the jewelry store and carry her own sketches and materials with her. That's actually where Emeraude comes from, it's french for Emerald, her favorite stone and green her favorite color. I remember the jeweler making pieces she'd designed and then replicating them for other customers. My mom taught me everything about style but also taught me about compassion and service. She still gives me input and even comments on my Instagram!

RC: Last question, if there is one place in Africa you'd like to visit, where would that be?

TA: Senegal and Goree Island. I think Wolof sounds so beautiful, it's almost like people are singing when they speak. Even though my family isn't slave descendants, that history is very important to me. I am a very spiritual person and I feel like visiting Goree Island is a way of honoring my African ancestors who went through that experience.

The beach in Saly, Senegal  Thérésa's dream African destination

You can have your very own Emeraude Chic creation and be on trend by visiting their website or following EmeraudeChic on Twitter, Instagram, and Pintinterest.




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