If you know me, you probably read this blog title and went “pff!”. I spend about half my annual income on jewelry and will never regret this poor financial choice. I do find it ironic though that I’ve never been a big clothing shopper. Most of my wardrobe pieces are staple items that everyone around me has come to recognize (because they get worn at least twice a week), but jewelry is a whole other story and I always seem to surprise my friends with a new piece every time they see me. Bangles, malas, beads, silver, gold; classy, statement, eccentric; from necklaces, to bracelets, to rings and anklets - my jewelry box is full of them. (Side note: my jewelry box is also 18 x 24 inches, hanging next to the mirror on my bathroom wall, therefore I had no other choice but to fill it!)
As always, putting my values first before making any decision is how I ensure everything around me not only benefits me, but also local and global economic and environmental sustainability. Even if the most beautiful piece of jewelry caught my eye, my values in conscious consumerism, including ethically sourced materials and fair trade, needs to be a part of the story of every piece I own before it wins a hook or a cubby spot within my beautiful, up-cycled jewelry box (handmade by my mother!!). When I came across Simply Nature Bio Goods, I was in heaven. Beautiful, classy, unique, and ethical; jackpot! Each Simply Nature jewelry piece is inspired by nature and made from selected medicinal, nutritional, and spiritual plants and trees. All pieces are nickel free and come in 99% recycled packaging with a certificate of authenticity.
I connected with co-founders Priscila Barbedo and Fernando Guevara, both partners in business and in life, to learn more about their story and how the brand came to be. Priscila had grown up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil dreaming of being part of the fashion world, but growing up in a troubled home pushed her to leave at the very young age of 13 years old. Getting by was her only priority, yet this strong young woman still went on to graduate from Law school! Priscila quickly climbed the corporate ladder and opened her own firm which she ran for several years, but something was missing (isn’t something always missing when you can’t be a creative soul?!). This led Priscila to leaving Brazil in 2014 and making the United States her new home where she was “reborn”. Landing in the U.S. quickly reminded her of her dreams of working in fashion. When she met Fernando, it all seems too good to be true. The two South American lovers would then go on to unite their two passions: fashion and nature.
Fernando came from a very different world in Colombia. Growing up with sports as his main focus, Fernando dedicated 10 years of his life to coaching tennis across South Carolina, New York and Florida. His love for nature and conscious living stemmed from his career in competitive sports. When he met Priscila, he had finally found a way to integrate his love for conscious living and nature through founding Simply Nature Bio Goods in January 2016.
Now, just about one and half years old, I've connected with the two to learn more about how this whole “bio jewel” thing works. See below for a Q & A with Fernando Guevara, co-founder of Simply Nature Bio Goods. Prepare to be amazed!
Tell me about your ethical Bio Jewels, what they are made of and how you source them for creating Simply Nature Bio Goods jewelry?
Bio jewels are made with leaves, seeds, fruits and branches from real trees native to the Brazilian Amazon. The goods are selected by local farmers; these guys are very familiar with the life cycle of each species of tree, and so they schedule the collection of our goods during the time periods that best suit each species in order to not cause any negative effects in their natural cycle. Also a high percentage (almost 60%) of the goods are collected from trees and branches that have naturally fallen to the ground due to wind, rain, etc.
All of the bio jewels in Simply Nature's Collections are made with selected plants and trees that bring an added benefit to humans. They are either, medicinal, nutritional, spiritual or even delicious! We see bio jewels as a channel to bring awareness about the conservation of our natural resources.
After the collection, local Artisans preserve the natural beauty of each piece, by natural processes they call, dissection and skeletonization. After this first step, a second group of local Artisans handle the metalization and gold bathing processes. It is important to mention that these guys are environmentally responsible and do not actively practice gold mining, instead they acquire gold from recycled gold sources. Also, no carcinogenic metals are ever used in the procedures, and the whole process is certified by the IBAMA (Brazilian Institute of Renewable Natural Resources).
What inspires your designs and what does your design process look like?
The original artist here is MOTHER NATURE. All the pieces are made to enhance the natural beauty of the original organic goods. That, mixed with the master handcrafting skills of the local Brazilian artisans. These guys use their ancestral native background when creating bio jewels. First, based on all its properties, we choose the plant/tree we want to feature. Natural shapes and patterns are purposely kept and integrated in the design. Bold, confident and elegant designs are sketched by hundreds. We look to choose the ones that most enhance the natural patterns, shapes and specific characteristics of each good; we keep in mind every detail, including the glow or glittery effect acquired with the gold bathing. Priscila and I are using our design background and fashionable taste to create this gorgeous sophisticated brand.
South American ancient native tribes are well known for the use of gold for many things; they created utensils, working tools, weapons, toys, etc. And so, they were master jewelers. It is my belief that these guys are the creators of the first pieces; natural handcrafted bio jewels, with organic goods and sustainable mining, made by people from the jungle.
Most consumers don't usually think of glam when they think of ethical fashion. How do you think you're changing this mindset?
This is a very important aspect for us. We look at ethical fashion as the future of the whole fashion industry. In the past, in order to buy a "glamorous' piece of jewelry, you had to spend a minimum of one to two thousand bucks on anything close to resembling how our pieces look. We are bringing to our customers gorgeous, affordable and unique pieces of art. The natural elegance of our bio jewels are envied by some and wanted by all.
The world is changing; us millennials are built to care and act. Not purchasing from unethical, profit driven huge enterprises is the first and ultimate form of protest against our broken system. And then, creating new, better and ethical options for the people is the next step. It is important to mention that we are always evolving, and our vision for the near future is to implement our very own circular business model.
How have you found North Americans to perceive fashion in comparison to South Americans?
Well, lots of tendencies are similar. However I would say the main difference is the flavor and sexiness of the South American fashion, specially Brazil and Colombia. I like the North Americans sense of simplicity, and the "laid back" and sometimes "care free" fashion vibes.
In three words, how would you describe Simply Nature Bio Goods?
Eco-friendly. Futuristic. Bio-goods.
And there you have it! Do you understand my new obsession now?!
Browse the incredible Simply Nature collections online now!