Roannta Dalrymple started making jewelry on a whim six years ago when she wanted to get hair accessories but found them too expensive. What started simply as a way to beautify her hair at minimal cost, six years later has turned into a jewelry line with an invested following. Now her direction is less happenstance and more deliberate action. Her aesthetic has evolved over the years to a more “essential” and pared down style. Citing as inspiration a well-known designer who now regularly collaborates with the internationally popular footwear brand Reebok, she thinks she has further to go and a lot more to learn.
EP: When/how did you start making jewellery?
RD: I started in 2010 but it became a business in 2012. I was unemployed after I did my Masters, I was out of a job for about a year. I had dreads at that time and I wanted hair jewelry and when I priced them online they were something ridiculous like 80US. I said “I can do this”. I got myself a spool of wire, a hammer, and some beads. I was semi employed then and I was still kind of working and finishing up my degree and it was just fun. So I did the hair jewelry and maybe a pair of earrings for myself. Got a job, and then lost that job, and was at home doing absolutely nothing. I think I started to get a little depressed. When you look for a job for very long time, you reach this magical point where you stop looking. You reach a point where you`re like; “You know what, not having a job is what the Universe decided to give to me, and I`m okay with it.”*Laughs* …because the rejection hurts…when you send out 12,000 resumes…
So just to find something to do I was making jewelry. I made a few rings for people because they asked. But I was very much focused on a career and getting “a good job”.
“Making jewelry is hard work. People don`t grasp how hard that work is”
And then UWI had their Orientation Village. At this time I had a tonne of stock that I was doing absolutely nothing with and one of the girls who shared the tent with me was a girl named Shanice. We got a little close. She added me on facebook. A few days after she messaged me and said she wanted to do another market. But the cost was too much for her and she said it was in South (Trinidad). She wasn`t driving at that point. Everybody she was asking to share with her said it`s too last minute because they don`t have stock. And I was like “I always have stock”.
So I thought “Why not?” I ended up at the market and it was like the worst market ever. If we made $50 dollars we made a lot.
I would credit that chance meeting with Shanice and that chance ending up at that market for where the business is now.
Making jewelry is hard work. People don`t grasp how hard that work is. Especially if you`re doing wire work ….it is just hard work, but those events gave me the zeal to start thinking about it as a business.
EP: How many pieces do you think you`ve made from then to now?
RD: Woooooo. I would say in the hundreds. I can turn out hundreds of pieces in a Christmas Season alone.
EP: What do you enjoy about making jewelry?
RD: It is…peaceful.
EP: From talking to you, jewelry making seems to me the same way I feel about drawing. .. too tedious.
RD: My attention span is very minute. To this day it`s the only thing that has held my attention for this long. To date this is the thing I`ve been the most focused on in my entire life, and this includes boys. This includes everything. I just get bored of everything else except this.
EP: What does Tautology mean?
RD: Tautology is one of my favourite words. It`s actually a math concept. But it defines circular logic. It`s putting something new into an equation and the equation remains the same even with the new elements added. An example of a tautological statement is that the woman is a widow. All widows are women so that`s circular logic. I like it because a lot of my jewelry is very geometry based.
“How do I boil this very complex piece of geometry down to the barest essentials of jewelry.”
EP: What inspires you?
RD: I do a lot of research into what is trending in the fashion world, especially in terms of colour. But a lot of things that inspire me would just be the things around. I then go to what`s happening art wise. That`s where most of my jewelry inspiration really comes from. I look at a lot of geometric art, I look at alot of water colour art. I think one of my stronger talents as a jeweller is my work with colour. So I`m very good at matching and combining colours that won`t normally “go together”. The first thing I do every year when I`m starting a collection is look at the pantone colour of the year. Inspiration also comes from a lot of the abstract work I see, a lot of tattoo work is very abstract now so I look at that a lot too. And then there`s just the barrier of what can I do with that? Then I have to kind of work within the constraints of that in terms of how do I get streamlined lines from this or how do I boil this very complex piece of geometry down to the barest essentials of jewelry.
EP: What are you trying to achieve with your designs?
RD: I am going for a classically minimalist aesthetic. I really want something that while still being outstanding and being very very different, is appealing to everyone because it`s very easy to wear. So I want people to have pieces that are unique but that are at the same time so streamlined and so seamless that they can be worn with almost anything. I intend to make your favourite piece of jewelry.
“I intend to make your favourite piece of jewelry.”
EP: What is the hardest part of what you do?
RD: For me it`s actually not even the intense labour-because it is labour intensive; my back hurts, my fingers hurt. I`ve hit myself with a hammer numerous times. Really for me, the hardest part of this right now is that my ideas aren`t limited by my skillset, but what I am able to accomplish is limited by my skillset. So I think of what I want to make but I can`t always make it because I don`t have the skill for it yet.
EP: Future plans for your designs?
RD: What I really want to do is there is a lady named Melody Ehsani, she designs for people like Nike. I don`t think she produces much anymore, but she does design. So she designs for Nike and some other retail stores. Shoes and jewelry. So that is really the goal. I want to be able to make the handmade pieces as well, but on a smaller scale, by order. But it is really is to influence the aesthetic so much that I can do that. I`m not sure how viable that is for Trinidad. But I do know that that`s what I would want.
What I surmise is that she gets the designs and they do the production. But it is her line, “Melody Ehsani for….”. That`s what I want to become in a few years.
EP: Do you have a favourite piece of jewelry you`ve done?
RD: I do. There is a collar I did last year, that is square, like a bib. My favourite piece of all time.
EP: What does it mean to you to be extraordinary?
RD: I do not think it is to be special. People think being extraordinary is to be “special”. And I do not think it`s that. To ME. To me to be extraordinary is to really pick that one thing and give it all of your focus. And that one thing can be ordinary. Jewelry is ordinary. But if you give that one thing complete focus and give that one thing all of your capacity, then you make that thing extraordinary. And when you do that you become extraordinary by proxy. So I don`t think it`s that you come special or you are an extraordinary person. We’re all born the same more or less.
“To me to be extraordinary is to really pick that one thing and give it all of your focus. And that one thing can be ordinary. But if you give that one thing complete focus and give that one thing all of your capacity, then you make that thing extraordinary. And when you do that you become extraordinary by proxy.”
We have different life chances etc. People who become extraordinary are people who have given one thing that focus. That dedication. Serena Williams is extraordinary. Not just because she is s tennis player, but because she has given that thing her focus so she is the tennis player. Same thing with Kobe. Extraordinary person. Not because he was born to be a great basketball player but because he gave that one thing all of his focus. And I do think that is what makes us extraordinary. And not everybody has that ability to focus. That`s probably the only thing that`s different. Not everybody has that fibre to just do something repeatedly. Would I say I`m extraordinary? – not yet. Do I plan to be extraordinary- yes.