When LESEBI Jewelry invited me to a special meeting in SoHo House, I was not only introduced to a wonderful selection of handcrafted accessories but also a family legacy in the making.
As a former Miss Uruguay, Daniela Rodriguez has travelled the world to places that she's fallen in love with and inspired by. The pieces she has constructed reflects her passion for the water, the equestrian lifestyle and the wildlife in South America. Daniela's affinity for found materials are translated in her worldly designs, which seamlessly integrate goat leather, horse shoes and various metals into modern keepsakes.
During my meeting with the Lesebi team, I had the opportunity to sit down with Daniela herself and her lead assistant, James Ancheta, for a quick Q&A - here's what she had to say about her debut collection:
Q: Please kindly yourselves.
I am Daniela Rodriguez, designer of LESEBI Jewelry that is inspired and constructed by artisans worldwide. We're dedicated to bringing old traditions into the modern world.
I am James Ancheta, Daniela's lead design assistant. My job is to basically ensure that all of our materials are genuine and that our techniques are true to the craftsmanship of the old world.
Q: Daniela, can you please tell me more about your personal history and background as an 'influencer' in your own right? I know that you're a former Miss Uruguay.
Yes, you are right - back in the good ol' days! I've always had a passion for fashion and design - primarily through my travels, I've picked up different pieces from various designers. As the years went by, I couldn't shake off the idea of having my own designs and company. Nowadays, I conceptualize the designs and pass them off to my trusted artisans, and they'll make each specific piece utilizing interesting materials and techniques for them to be truly special. I am also an entrepreneur at heart -- but the collection represents where I come from and where I am today.
Q: Where are these artisans based/from? How is jewelry made?
My artisans are from, for example, Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico - and another in-house designer from Guatemala - I mean, it's a very diverse group and they come very different parts of the world. It's a combination of all these backgrounds that make LESEBI designs so pronounced. However,
it is also important to note that 90% of all the jewelries' components are made in the USA before they are sent off to the artisans for final assembly.
Q: So everything is created in-house - what is the creative process ultimately like?
D: We get very creative. While I was in Mexico on vacation in the ocean, I picked up some seaweed and naturally gravitated to the fluid structure of it. Every creative process we arrive at happens very organically. It's all about finding the hidden treasures that surrounds us.
Q: What is LESEBI? And who is the LESEBI man or woman?
The name LESEBI is actually made up of my two sons' names: Leo and Sebastian (I call him 'Sebi' for short). It took us two years to come up with the name, and I wanted it to be personal. So what better way to do that than combine my sons' names!
The LESEBI man and woman are people that are looking for something truly special. They're very fashion-forward but also want rare, exclusive designs that aren't commonly replicated. Like Daniela, they're searching for uniquely made pieces as if they're on a treasure hunt themselves. They also seek something that visually represents and echoes the environment they're in - for instance, LA is home to so many creative individuals.
Q: What are some special causes LESEBI is devoted to as a brand?
American Cancer Society is one of the non-profit organizations that we strongly support.
The American Cancer Society is something that's very close to Daniela. Every season LESEBI will be creating a pink bracelet as a way to show our involvement and continued support for the cause.
Q: Who are some special, iconic jewelry designers you guys look up to or take inspiration from?
I am in love with David Yurman and Cartier, because I admire and respect their timeless craftsmanship and designs so much.
The ultimate designer I look up to is Vivienne Westwood - she really works with abstract ideas and amazing concepts that require continuous development over time. It's a work ethic that we always try to implement in LESEBI designs - continually reinventing old traditions into new ideas.
Q: In terms of this debut collection, what are some standout pieces?
Everyone has their favorites. There is one that's rather unisex:
it's the chainmail bracelet made of entirely horse shoe nails. This has been one of our most popular pieces. The goat leather pieces have also been quite an attraction.
Also our key signatures are the hand-made pieces - we have graded leather that you can't find anywhere in the United States. And we also hand-carve everything. It's all about the hand-made touch that you see and get throughout the collection.
Thank you again for your time and for having me, Daniela and James - it was truly a pleasure!
- My Belonging
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