To introduce S’aint Yacque jewels, I must first ask you to close your eyes and picture yourselves in a remote village in Africa. It’s a day of celebration and the women have gathered with laughter to adorn themselves in jewels, handmade by their mother’s mother, passed down with purpose and history. Beautiful beads in earth tones, stones with pockets and grooves that hold memories, bark from trees older than man himself, woven together with leather, linked with chain, that offer a bare & exquisite beauty. Now open your eyes!
S’aint Yacque jewels are a memory of Africa, of home, and its rare beauty. Designer Yacira Valdez, has combined this image with an urban edge, sometimes ravish and unpolished, but always with purpose. Clutch was able to sit down with Valdez to talk about energy, art and her inspirations.
Q: When did you start designing jewelry?
I started designing jewelry and accessories almost three years ago mainly because I couldn’t find accessories that fit my personal style. Through the encouragement of a close friend I worked up the courage to put them out into the universe. I was and still am shocked at how well received they have been.
Q: What elements do you incorporate into your designs?
My personal style is earthy yet edgy, a little grungy but clean…and I think that translates into my designs. I like to mix natural elements such as wood, natural stones, coral, camel bone, coyote teeth, raccoon and fox tails, leather with chain and metals.
Q: You proudly represent the Dominican Republic. How does your culture influence your design vision?
My earlier pieces manifested directly from my connection to DR….I used Asabaches which are the small black fists you see in a lot of my pieces. Asabaches are used to ward off evil spirits and are usually pinned to an infants clothing. Pieces like wood, shells and coral all take me back to the island…the chains represent America….LOL…I just made that up but that shit sound kinda dope…don’t let me get political on here!
Q: Who is the S’aint Yacque customer?
My first collection was a men’s line; I designed pins, tie clasps, big link chains and leather items that would appeal to not only men but a unisex market. When creating I was thinking Prince, Lenny Kravitz, Andre 3000. A man who rides that fine gender line and who takes risk in fashion…but that’s such a narrow market that I had to expand and create pieces for women….the same edginess translated into my women’s line and I think that is what appeals to my customers.
The S’aint Yacque customer is a person who likes unique pieces, not too much flash but likes to make a statement. A fashionista that always looks fresh but never looks like she tried to look fresh.
Q: Tell us about your Spring/Summer collection, Prey? And what inspired that name?
“In ecology, predation describes a biological interaction where a predator species kills and eats other organisms, known as prey.”
I had so much energy inside, both positive and negative and art has really allowed me to express myself and has helped me heal….Prey is the energy that I’m putting into everything I do right now…I’m preying AND I’m praying.
I’m passionately seeking success on many different levels and its like something as come over me…I feel like a predator ready to attack….I’m on a mission and I’ll stop at nothing. It’s almost scary how hard I’m working but it feels great. I’m really proud of myself. Ahem.
I studied designs of rosaries and Buddhist beads and flipped it.
Q: On your path to starting, were there any major challenges?
Time and Money….money and time….I’m thankful that I never run out of amazing ideas for my designs or art….unfortunately I don’t always have the money OR the time to develop all of them….that gets to be a bit frustrating. Jewelry making is expensive and my taste in fashion is waaaaaaay above my means….I have elaborate ideas using leathers, furs, silk, linen…thankfully I’ve sketched out quite a few of them…
In a few years I want to expand my accessories line to feature bags and shoes as well as small leather goods as well as a clothing collection. So!!! if any readers have a rich dad who wants to donate 100 Gs to get me started…holla!! (646)346-0511
Q: You have a beautiful son, how do you manage both career and family?
When I’m stuck on a design I run it by him…he has an amazing eye and it always catches me by surprise when he suggests changes. He’s always on point. He tells me I work too hard and demands me to put the supplies away sometimes. He tells me I need a vacation. I’m not ready for all that though. I’m so focused.
I’ve made a conscious decision to put aside, partying, dating, chillin’ and have really put all my time and energy into my family and my business. My “studio” is my coffee table so I’m able to spend time with him every night after I come home from work…we spend time together while I work.
Q: Who are some jewelry/ fashion designers that inspire you?
I’m inspired by the unknown jewelry designers in the bushes of Latin and South America, Africa, those that make jewelry with callused hands to preserve culture…make jewelry to feed their families. There is something organic and real about their art. They use natural elements from the earth, blood sweat and tears go into each piece and that they didn’t go to Parsons to learn technique. Realness.
Q: What void do you currently see out there when it comes to jewelry design?
Well for me it’s always difficult to find jewelry and fashion that is not overly feminine and men clothes that fit my womanly body :) There is definitely a void of pieces that are not gender specific but that are stylish and modern.
Q: You’re also an incredible stylist! What do you enjoy most about styling?
Definitely watching the transformation of a woman into a model…watching the layers, the makeup, hair, clothing and for it to manifest into a piece of art.
While styling I quickly realized I wanted and needed more control over the production. One of my future goals is to become an Art Director. I come up with amazing concepts and with the right team of photographer, makeup artist, hair stylist, set designer, it’d be over…my imagination is crazy. That’s all I’m going to say….time and money, money and time are all I need.
Q: Aside from your jewels, what other projects do you have in the works?
Aside from my jewelry and accessories I’m developing a t-shirt line using mix mediums, hand painted scarves and a line of greeting cards using my own artwork. I’m also launching a line of authentic vintage sunglasses this summer with my partner Carlos Cully the name is YakBlak…keep your eyes open for that.
An ecommerce website www.cocolah.com is also in the works, this will be a place where I will feature other designers, artists, musicians and much more. That’s due to launch June 2008. I’m also getting ready for the Dance Africa festival coming to Brooklyn this Memorial Day weekend at BAM….you’ll be able to catch me peddling my wares. In the meantime find me on www.yacquevaldez.com, or www.myspace.com/yacquevaldez
Thank you Summer! and thank you to all my customers and supporters.