When I was younger, I used to be so uncomfortable with the things that made me unique. As shy as I was, I hated the fact that I could never just blend in and move with the crowd. If it wasn't my height, it was my skin colour. If it wasn't my skin colour, it was my hairstyle. Something always made me stand out, and I didn't appreciate it. Now? You wouldn't know I ever had a problem with standing out. I think I've fully grown into accepting the things that make me me, and I love my uniqueness. Uniqueness and originality are things that I now seek out in the way that I present myself to the world. From my hair to my clothes, I love creating original looks that represent me in all my fresh flyness. As a big fan of accessories, I know that the right bauble can set an outfit off just right, so I keep my eyes open for cool lines that don't kill my wallet. One of these such lines is Absynia, created by Elle Lewis.
I introduced y'all to Absynia earlier this year when I purchased a pair of earrings for myself (and a ton of one-of-a-kind items for my girlfriends). I quickly fell in love with the beautifully-crafted pieces (for men and women), and was extremely appreciative of the fact that I was able to obtain high-quality, original jewelry at amazing prices. To boot, Abysnia's customer service was top notch! Clear, quick, and kind - just the way I likes it. Y'all know I love to spread the word of amazing companies and lines, so allow me to formally introduce you to Absynia! I reached out to creator Elle Lewis to ask her some quick questions about the line - check out our mini-interview, and stay tuned for the special deal she gives '83 To Infinity readers! Once you finish reading, head on over to Absynia's online home, launching today!
Hi there readers! My name is Elle and I’m the brains (so to speak) behind Absynia! Some interesting things about me: I’ve always been an artist and an entrepreneur. When I was 7, I would draw stories and sell them around the neighborhood for .5 cents. My mother used to tell me that story all the time, whenever I moved on to the next thing. I was always trying to make and sell something, dreaming of creating something great. I was voted class dreamer in a graduating class of 200+ students.
What inspired you to get into the art of jewelry design?
I really just did it. I was buying a ton of cheap jewelry that would break all the time and hated to throw it away. Sometimes I couldn’t fix it so I’d make it into something else. It wasn’t long before people started to notice and when someone tried to buy my earrings from my ears, I figured I had something here.
I'll admit - the first thing that drew me to your line was the name. How did you come up with the name Absynia?
I’m the daughter of a Rasta and so growing up I learned a lot about Africa. When I was thinking of what to name my line, I thought it should be something to represent me. I mulled over names of African empires and chose Nubia, the empire that I have a strong religious and cultural connection to because of my father. Abyssinia is the Biblical name for the region once known as Nubia, Absynia is just a shortening of that.
You also carry select vintage items, which I love. Why was this important for you to include in the Absynia brand?
I expanded to vintage because I love vintage items. The quality, the style and the idea of preserving something for the next generation, all appeals to me. So much of our current economy is about making things as quickly and cheaply as possible and that is a shame, I think. Absynia is all about standing against the “buy-it, toss-it” idea so it was fitting that Absynia includes quality, vintage items as well.
To me, the Absynia brand represents being unique, presenting quality, and maintaining personal connection with its customers. How do you accomplish these things so successfully? Is there anything else that Absynia represents?
Maybe this is ambitious but I think and hope Absynia as a brand, represents the growing handmade community. I’ve observed that people now want to return to knowing where their items come from and who made it. They want to be responsible with their money and invest in responsible companies who treat them well, provide quality and are ethical in their practices. I run my company as a customer. I LOVE fashion, I LOVE to shop and I use my experiences as a customer to make my company work. I made jewelry I wanted to buy and I treat customers the way I wish I was treated, for me it’s that simple.
How has your knowledge of worker abuse, child labour, and other cruelties in the global marketplace framed the way you run your line?
Definitely. I’m not comfortable participating in an economy that disenfranchises and even enslaves people. When I first learned about what really happens in the fashion industry I was frozen. I didn’t know what to do, where to buy or if I should buy. Discovering an artisan community like Etsy really helped me. When I started creating I had a network of people to reach out to, to find out where to buy supplies. I support other artists, local suppliers and this year I did my most exhausting sourcing of materials, tapping into Native-run businesses and local artisans
What advice do you have for others who want to take the plunge into entrepreneurship?
The best advice I can give is really consider who you are and what you stand for, then take your company in the direction that reflects that. I know a lot of people who want to jump on trends because they think they can make money but if it isn’t authentic then it won’t last. When your company is a reflection of who you are, people respect and connect to that. It also makes it very easy to be your own brand ambassador when you aren’t hiding who you are. I’m a Pro-Black, Pan-Africanist. It shows up in my jewelry, in my aesthetic and people- whether or not they’re from the Diaspora or not-respect that. And they support it- which gives me such joy I can’t even describe it.
What's next for Absynia? When you look 5 years into the future, where do you see the line?
When I look five years down the road, I see continuous growth-Growth of me as an artist and of my company. There are things I want to try with resin, with metal and with butane torches. I see myself fully immersed in my craft and my customers benefit from that.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Yes! www.absynia.com is opening on Sept. 24th and I’d love to share a deal with your readers! When they go to www.absynia.com or www.absynia.etsy.com there is an option to leave a note for the seller when checking out. All they have to do is mention where they heard of Absynia and I will refund their shipping charges, no matter how much they order. It’s just a small thank you for stopping by.
So, there you have it, folks! If you're looking for unique, conscientious, gorgeous, and exceptionally-crafted jewelry and vintage pieces at incredible prices, Absynia is where you need to be. Take advantage of Elle's awesome deal, and treat yourself or someone else! Now, let me get on and snatch up a few pieces that have been calling my name...happy shopping!
Thanks so much to Elle for her time, and make sure you follow @AbsyniaShop on Twitter! Don't forget to vote for '83TI in the Black Weblog Awards (Best New/Personal/Int'l/Writing In A Blog) - 1 more week to go in the semi-finals!