We’ve been so busy traveling to festivals, I’ve let a very important month fly by. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I couldn’t let the month end without reaching out to all of you.
If you are new to Jewel of Havana, you may not know I’m a breast cancer survivor. Thankfully, I’m eight years cancer free and three years from my last day of treatment. It is definitely something I celebrate and never take for granted. I’m so lucky we caught it early and had so many people who supported me and my husband as we navigated those difficult times.
From that journey, the Draped In Love Jewelry Collection was born. It was created to honor the doctors, surgeons, radiologists, technicians, and survivors who helped us along the way. I wanted a way to thank them and also raise funds for women who may not have access to the same care I had.
Gifts that Give Back Benefits
For the past eight years, purchases of jewelry from the Draped In Love Collection have raised funds for the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center and for the past three years, the Dodi Groves Breast Cancer Fund.
This year I’m thrilled to announce, I’ll be partnering with Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Institute. When my Oncologist told me about the new facility and the amazing work they’ll be doing for cancer patients, I knew this is where we could do the most good for people in our community this year.
As the holidays draw near, I hope you’ll consider a gift that gives back. This year, 30% of each Draped In Love Jewelry purchase will go to support the new OLOL Cancer Institute.
If you haven’t had your yearly check, make that call today. If someone you love hasn’t either, help encourage them to do so. It’s so easy to get busy and let things go but early detection can save your life and hopefully give you more choices for treatment.
Make the appointment and if you ever need a friend to help you through, I’m right here wanting to pay it forward thanks to all the wonderful people who had our back eight years ago.
With gratitude, xo Ana
I was recently contacted by one of the first collectors of my work. Her daughter was opening as Little Red Riding Hood in a production of the musical Into the Woods and she wanted a meaningful gift to mark the occasion for her opening night.
She selected a piece from the Into the Woods Collection and asked two things: could I get it to her in time and did I have a story card to go with it? Into the Woods was one of my earliest collections, and though I had an inspirational story behind it, I never put it in writing. I didn’t want to disappoint her so I started the process of creating a new story card for her gift.
The Backstory - Into the Woods
In my junior year of college, I finally had the chance to go to New York. On that first day, I saw Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim. The beautiful lyrics, lessons, and music contained in the show left an indelible mark on me (and I maaay have cried a few times ;)
If you aren’t familiar with the show, imagine all your favorite storybook characters together in one village, each with their own dreams and wishes all intertwined: the woods: a metaphor for life, adventure, and going into the unknown. Each time I saw it, different parts would speak to me, missing family, forming family, loss, loneliness, fear, and finally, the understanding and comfort that comes from knowing we are never alone.
Into the Woods - The Jewelry
My parents are avid gardeners and have the most beautiful property with so many nooks and crannies to get lost in nature. I was inspired to use the leaves and textures from their gardens for this collection. It seemed only fitting I would name it Into the Woods as a tribute to my family, and the beginning of a new life. Going into the unknown can lead to so many wonderful things.
I hope the jewelry pieces in this collection help you celebrate your path wherever you may be and remind you to wish, to dream, “to go to the festival”. "The way is clear, the light is good". "The prettier the flower, the farther from the path" and "Someone is on your side... No one is alone" xo Ana
Are You Game Day Ready?
Valentine's Day is THIS Monday. If you want to be Superbowl ready... grab your Valentines gifts before the game. No matter who wins this weekend, you'll be the MVP on Monday morning. Let me be on your team and help you score a touchdown. 😜
Seriously though, I'm not knocking flowers or chocolates. They are lovely. But flowers wilt and if chocolates enter my house, they are gone in under 5.
Meaningful Gifts to Remind Them of You
Why not gift something that lasts. something meaningful that makes them think of you every time they wear it.
Jewelry just makes sense. It lasts. It carries the memory of the day you gave it and the feeling and connection between you and your loved one for years to come.
In case you missed it, we have a quick gift guide with a few of our most popular gifts for Valentine's. And though they aren't featured in this guide, rings have been a popular choice so far this year.... they show really well with hot wings! 😉
Check out these great gift ideas to make the day extra special and help them remember how you feel about them all year long.
I’m just back from time off to clear and refresh after Jewel of Havana’s best year since our inception. I am so grateful to all of you for your support in 2021 and looking forward to a wonderful year ahead!
Ok… full disclosure: I’m not a fashionista. I tend towards classics that will stick around. (I work by myself in a studio most of the time so comfy is always my go-to.)
BUT where Jewel of Havana is concerned, I try to stay up to date (and sometimes ahead!) of fashion trends, especially as they relate to color and texture. It helps inform my design process and also helps me select colors to go with the new clothes you'll find in stores before I hit a gem show.
Who is Pantone?
The palettes on display at the current New York Fashion Week are certainly vibrant but a bit too trendy for me so I turned to the tried and true Pantone color specialists to see what they predict for the core classic color palette in 2022.
If you don’t know the Pantone Color Institute, they started out in the early 60s developing a color matching system for the printing industry. Through the years they became experts in the study of color, and their numbered color system is the go-to “language of color” for designers and industries from every discipline imaginable.
Basically… it’s a fresh and happy color full of hope and vibrance! Of course, I’m from Louisiana and this beautiful color is one of two we love here (for those who know what I mean 😊)
Pantone Core Classic Colors for Spring/Summer 2022
I went digging a little further to see what Pantone put out for a classic color palette and they didn’t disappoint.
Here are some of the colors they are predicting as core classics for 2022 & how Very Peri, the new color of the year, goes right with all of them.
Keep reading for some Jewel of Havana jewelry picks to coordinate with Pantone’s classic palette. You’ll most likely start seeing these colors in stores soon.
Whether you're picking one of the classic colors or Very Peri itself, here are a few options of jewelry to mix and match with classic color trends in 2022.
Jewel of Havana Jewelry Picks with Pantone Colors of the Year
Cape Amethyst or Russian Charoite
This was the first necklace I thought of when I first saw Pantone's classic color palette. It has all the colors but in a deeper hue and works perfectly against any of them. It's also a fun complement with Very Peri. (Do you see a pattern here?)
Ocean jasper is a hard stone to find as the original mine is mined out. Not everyone will be walking around with your look.
Ocean jasper is considered a calming and grounding stone so perfect as we enter the new year.
Jade or Rhyolite
Which Gemstones Would You Like to See?
I’m creating like crazy over here & getting lists together for my next stone shopping trip, so now’s the time to weigh in. Which colors or stones would you like to see this year? Let me know in the comments or shoot me an email. I'd love to hear from you before the next gem show. Happy 2022!! xo Ana
I’ve been attending gem shows many times a year for over 16 years. At this point, it’s rare that a stone will stop me dead in my tracks… but this was one of them!
I’ve seen many “picture jaspers” but this was different. It had soft colors but such detail. Each one pulled me in to the scene. Like watching clouds, each time I looked at it, I saw a different story, a different perspective. Like a beautiful master painting, the story I saw changed each time I looked at the stone. The storyteller in me was hooked and Dad & I dug through to choose the very best pieces we could bring home to you!
Where is Maligano Jasper Found?
Fun Facts about Maligano Jasper
Each of these Maligano Jasper treasures will be hard to say goodbye to but I hope you will get lost in the story of your piece as much I as do each time I look at it.
Yours will arrive lovingly in a beautiful leatherette presentation box with a card describing the properties of the stone. May it melt away the worries of the world and bring you peace, harmony and happiness. xo Ana
Red, White and Blue Jewelry Roundup for July 4th and Beyond
With July 4th around the corner, you may be planning some back yard BBQs or gatherings with friends before the fireworks to celebrate the red, white and blue. You want to look put together and in the spirit but not everyone is looking to wear a flag to show your spirit.
We've rounded up some of our most popular red, white and blue jewelry to take your casual looks up a notch this holiday weekend and beyond.
So.. are you for the red, white or blue jewelry?
Luckily, you don't have to decide. Our Calla Lily Earrings & Leaf Necklaces have convertible clips. Pick your piece and then get all the color clips you want to go in them.
Grab your red, white and blue clips and decide which are going to the fireworks with you later.
Anyone have a July Birthday?
July's birthstone is Ruby. It also happens to be the anniversary stone for the 15th & 40th year of marriage.
Rubies are said to attract good luck to the wearer, protect you from misfortune and shield against negative energy.
Lapis Lazuli may be one of the December birthstones but if you are wanting more beautiful blue than red this July 4th, we got you covered there too! Check out the Layering Necklace Collection for these delicate designs in gold.
Want to make a statement at the BBQ?
We still have a few Red River Jasper, Lapis Lazuli & Sodalite Statement earrings to take you from afternoon BBQ to evening fireworks.
These can dress up a simple white dress or romper or even a t-shirt and jeans or lets face it.... shorts if you are a Louisiana Girl. (It's too hot for pants down here.)
Understated pops of color more your thing?
From our Secret Garden Collection, these Red Coral and Lapis Lazuli Earrings and Necklaces are sweet and delicate. A perfect pop of color yet understated, light and comfortable.
This design comes in many stone choices but here are the red and blue to go with your fav red, white or blue outfit.
Classic & timeless more your style?
You can't go wrong with Coral, White Pearls or Lapis Lazuli of any kind. They aren't just for July 4th but you sure will look good at this weekend's gathering with these beautiful red, white or blue stones no matter what your plans are to celebrate.
After a few days off to recover & renew I came back to get your orders...well...in order.
As I’m finishing up a few of these Steel Magnolias to ship today, it hit me. Every year I choose a word of inspiration for the year to help me focus on what I want more of. Do you do that too? For the past two years my word was "abundance". It served me well & brought so much with it.
As I’m sitting here polishing this last little magnolia to ship to her forever home, my new word for the year just jumped out at me. RESILIENCE!
The magnolia (in addition to being the State Flower for Louisiana & Mississippi) is thought to be one of the first flowers on Earth. Found in fossils dating back 20 million years, it has had to adapt to changing climactic & geological conditions in order to survive making it the symbol of endurance, strength & eternity.
The term Steel Magnolia is a southern term for a woman who exemplifies both traditional femininity as well as uncommon strength. If 2020 taught us anything it is that we are all resilient. We all found our way through the pivots, twists & turns to navigate this new world no matter how hard it got.
We are all Steel Magnolias and for me, this little flower helps me remember in times when I don’t feel so strong that this too shall pass. We are stronger than we know. We are resilient. We are Steel Magnolias.
Here's to a resilient, healthy and happy new year y’all! What's your word for this year?
It's no secret 2020 has been a challenging year for businesses and many not for profits have really been hit hard. This year more than ever giving gifts that give back not only helps the business you are buying from but pays it forward in our community and beyond.
Here are a few of the organizations we work with all year round where your shopping dollars at Jewel of Havana help support not for profits in our community.
Red Magnolia Theatre Co
Now through 12.31.20, use code: RED at checkout to support the Red Magnolia Theatre Company! You'll get free shipping and 10% of your purchase goes to support their educational and performing programs supporting women in the arts.
Theatre Baton Rouge
From now through 12.31.20, use the code: ILOVETBR at checkout to support the theater fund at Theatre Baton Rouge. You get free shipping and the theater will receive 10% of your purchase supporting theater for the community by the community and their educational programs for kids and adults alike.
In this video, I share a few tips on how to put on your favorite bracelets by yourself when there's no one around to help. We cover how to put on spring clasps, tube clasps, bracelets with weight in the middle and a public service announcement about getting your cuff bracelets on and off safely.
Did you know cuff bracelets can snap in half if you squeeze them on and off one too many times? It's called "work hardening". It's why jewelers have to heat the metal once we hammer pieces in to shape for too long. The heat softens the metal so we can keep bending it without breaking it. Once it's hard enough for you to wear, you don't want to keep bending and opening your cuff bracelet or you could have a sad moment on your hands.
If you like this video and tips like these, please share this page with your friends and let me know in the comments below.
Would you like to see more videos like these? Do you have questions about jewelry you'd love answered? Let me know that too so I can bring you more helpful tips in the future. Thanks for watching and happy bracelet wearing! xo Ana
Breast Cancer Awareness
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you are new to Jewel of Havana, you may not know I am a breast cancer survivor.
I am very open about my journey because at the time I was diagnosed, I had never heard about my only symptom being a sign of cancer: It wasn’t on a mammogram, I never felt a lump and I had no family history. These are the things we all hear about.
Gifts that Give Back
Because of the survivors that came forward to help me and my husband navigate those early days and my desire to create a piece of jewelry to thank them, the Draped In Love Collection was born.
For the past 6 years, your purchases from the Draped In Love Collection have raised funds for the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center.
Last year, in celebration of reaching the end of treatments and hitting 5 years cancer free, I released the pieces in sterling silver. They celebrate this milestone and honor one of those original friends and survivors who is now a Heavenly Angel. Your purchases from the silver Draped In Love Collection support the Dodi Groves Breast Cancer Fund in her honor.
When reporter, Kourtney Williams reached out for BRProud’s breast cancer awareness story I was happy to contribute.
I share some details that could make some uncomfortable but if it helps one person get checked early, then I hope you will understand. We need to share with each other. Information is power and education helps you make the right decisions for you. Early detection gives us more options for treatment and hopefully saves lives.
Stay safe and if anything is different, go get checked. xo Ana
The most hilarious part is when I asked her...so what month is it? And she replied... September 15th - October 15th🤣 I mean we can’t even be on time for our own month. 🤣 Cuban time is a real thing people! 🤣🤣
Mom said when they arrived in Louisiana, it was the first time since fleeing Cuba that she felt truly at home. The people of Louisiana are so much like Cubans. Family are your friends; your friends are considered family and strangers become friends in an instant. They know how to celebrate life and they turn even the hardest times into a party. They are warm, strong & resilient people who can weather any storm. They have each other’s back & the food is sooooo good.
So… though I am fiercely Cuban I am also fiercely a Louisianian & even more fiercely American. I will never take for granted the sacrifices my parents made for the freedoms we have today & the warmth & joyfulness of the people of Baton Rouge who welcomed our parents in their mighty Cajun way & made them feel like they were home.
Catch the replay of Ashley’s National Hispanic Heritage Month Special on BRProud below and make sure to join the Jewel of Havana VIP list to be up to date on the next Havana Happy Hour Virtual Arts Market and all the fun insider goodies you get for being in the club!
What you'll need for this project:
- Small ziplocks that can fit a business card size card (check your local craft store in the jewelry section)
- Medium and Large ziplocks for your larger necklaces
- Hole punch or reamer
- Business cards, index cards or cardstock cut to size
- A beautiful jewelry box to store it all in
It's oxygen and moisture that speed up the tarnishing process. Metals can easily scratch one another or harm your softer stones if you just throw them in a jewelry box together. Not to mention the time we waste untangling the mess of chains in those boxes. This video goes through a simple and easy way to protect all your favorite jewelry pieces and sets you up for traveling safely with your treasures.
What you'll need:
1. Flat bottom glass or ceramic pan with sides high enough to hold water
2. Baking soda
3. Aluminum foil
4. Hot water (almost to boiling point)
5. Rinse water
6. Soft cloth or towel for drying well
7. Your tarnished silver jewelry
Steps to clean your silver jewelry:
1. Line your glass or ceramic pan with aluminum foil
2. Place your silver jewelry on the aluminum being careful to remove all stones from your chain first. (Make sure the jewelry is touching the aluminum.)
3. Sprinkle baking soda over the jewelry
4. Pour hot water over baking soda to cover all the jewelry
5. Rock the pan gently until all the pieces are tarnish free
6. Rinse well, dry thoroughly and store in air tight container.
Remember....oxygen and moisture cause tarnish to develop more rapidly so dry your jewelry as well as possible and store in air tight containers to keep moisture and oxygen away from your jewelry when you aren't wearing it.
**Take care not to use this method with antique jewelry that has a patina you like or other jewelry with a patina finish. Patina is essentially controlled tarnish and this method will clean off your patina. In this case, use a silver polishing cloth to clean the areas you'd like to shine and keep the patina where you want it.
This is a quick and easy, all natural way to clean large amounts of silver jewelry at home so you spend more time enjoying your shiny clean jewelry for years to come.
If you like tips like these, please share this page with your friends and let me know in the comments below. Would you like to see more videos like these? Do you have questions about jewelry you'd love answered? Let me know that too so I can bring you more helpful tips in the future. Thanks for watching! xo Ana
It was a perfect day and it was not lost on me how lucky we were to have safely made it to this moment when there was so much fear and suffering in the world leading up to it.
Just as I was looking around at all this beauty, feeling such gratitude, I put my headphones in and hit play on a random shuffle playlist. Up comes Louis Armstrong’s undeniable voice...
”I see leaves of green...Red roses too...I see them bloom for me and for you...and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”
I mean... you couldn’t have dreamt a better soundtrack for the moment.
Lapis Lazuli Malachite Jewelry
Lapis lazuli is considered the stone of friendship, goodwill and harmony and malachite, the stone of wealth and abundance so I like to think that when they grow together you will have a wealth of friendship & abundance of love. They are also both calming stones and who couldn't use that right now?
The shapes & textures from this new jewelry collection capture the feelings of those precious moments on the sand, the sounds of crashing waves & children playing, the perfect song on the radio & a deep, deep gratitude for the beauty in the world around us.
May this jewelry bring you peace and calm, a wealth of friendship and an abundance of love.
"And I think to myself...what a wonderful world....."
On Valentine’s Day, I like to show my love and admiration to many people in my life, not just my actual valentine. On a day dedicated to celebrating love in general, why not spread that love to many and show you care?
All of our jewelry comes in a beautiful presentation box with a bow and a blank card for you to personalize so whether you are wanting a present for that special someone, a treasured friend, a cherished family member, or show yourself some love, check out these great gift ideas to make the day extra special and help them remember how you feel about them all year long.
Rose Quartz is the stone of unconditional love, making it a perfectly festive gift for Valentine’s Day. This necklace is one of my personal favorite gift items, it just seems to go with everything and works across all ages.
If you want to check out more items incorporating Rose Quartz, you can shop the collection here.
If you are looking for a gift that is cost-friendly, look no further. We have a ton of affordable options that will make this Valentine’s Day unforgettable. These Freshwater Pearl Coin Earrings pair well with everything, plus their color is perfect for this chocolate-filled holiday!
ANGEL WING JEWELRY
True friends can be our own personal angels—protecting us and supporting us throughout any trials we might face. Our love and thankfulness for them is immense, and Valentine's Day is the perfect time to show them how we feel.
This Double Angel Wing Necklace helps reflect that sentiment and is perfect for all the angels in your life.
PINK PEARL BRACELETS
Here is a perfect gift for the little blessings in your life. Our kids collection has a lot of great gift options that will not break the bank!
Of course, I think the Pink Freshwater Pearl Bracelet is especially fitting for Valentine’s Day, but there are many options you can choose from in the collection.
STEEL MAGNOLIAS JEWELRY
Looking for a new take on a Valentine’s Day favorite? This 3 Flower Cuff Bracelet from the Steel Magnolias Collection is sure to dazzle and stay useful way longer than any bouquet, making it a perfect V-Day gift.
The magnolia is a symbol of quiet strength and delicate beauty making this collection a favorite to exchange with friends, sisters or to treat yourself.
MIXED METAL JEWELRY
Finally, check out the entire Through the Looking Glass Collection for Valentine’s Day inspiration. This collection is all about unconditional love and seeing the world with joy and wonder and I cannot think of anything more fitting to celebrate on this holiday.
In addition to the busyness, the holidays can also be a difficult time—especially when it might be the first time spending them without a loved one. (It was our first without my Father-in-law this year.)
I like to think that the holidays give us some healing power. As we sit and catch up with our family and friends, I like to use the time to keep the memory alive of those who passed and cherish those that are still with us today. I find it important to honor and remember the legacy of the ones we love, and the holidays just seem like the perfect time to do so.
When Carl Welder, who just so happens to be my husband’s cousin, approached me with an idea for a Christmas present to commemorate his late father, I could not refuse. He requested two necklaces, one for his mother and one for his sister, each inscribed with the phrase, “kisses and ice cream”. A lovely idea and an intriguing inscription—I immediately got to work in order to get the two necklaces ready for Christmas.
Now that Carl’s sister and mother have gotten their gifts, I wanted to share Carl’s wonderful story of honoring the father they all loved so much.
Carl's Thoughtful Gifts
Tell me a little bit about your father.
He was a geologist and a scientist his whole life and a very left-brained kind of thinker. But as he got older, he became very affectionate and very very sentimental. In his last three years of life he was extremely that way.
The last year of his life, things had gone way downhill and he was basically confined to his bedroom, his living room, and his kitchen. We kept all trying to tell him that it was okay to let go, I mean he was 91 and had lived this great life—but he just kept bouncing back from a lot of different things.
What we realized after a while is that he loved getting and giving kisses from his wife of 57 years and he loved his ice cream every day, so we decided that kisses and ice cream were enough to make any man stay around on this planet.
Well, this was the first Christmas without him this year. I knew it was going to be emotional, we were all not really looking forward to it. We chose to go ahead and be in the ancestral home where we had all celebrated before and I just wanted something very special for my sister and my mother to kind of commemorate that first Christmas without him.
So, I thought about that phrase and realized I wanted to tie the gift back to that. I was looking around for jewelry here and there and just could not find what I was looking for, so I decided to call and work with you to see if I could create what I was envisioning.
Shop the Look
What led you to choose jewelry to uphold that special memory of your father?
Between my sister and I, I think we each missed one Christmas in all the years we were together as a family. So, you know, Christmas has always been a big deal for us. We are always together. I just wanted to honor his death in some way and honor his memory at Christmas this year. Even though he was not there physically, I know that he was there spiritually.
Can you tell me a little bit about the reaction of your mother and sister in receiving the gift?
You know, there were tears and lots of hugs and love. It really was such a sweet and emotional reaction. Later in the night, my sister unveiled her gift to my mother, a brand-new stereo system with a record player on it. We ended up spending the rest of the night listening to my dad’s old albums on it and just talking about his life. There were tears, laughs, and a lot of memories but I am glad that we were able to get through it together. It was very special.
Is there someone you want to keep close this year? If so, fill out the contact form and we can start the commission process. Additionally, if you have a story of giving Jewel of Havana jewelry this holiday season, be sure to share your story with us. xo Ana
Life's unexpected events and themes of empowerment have often driven the creative process of the work I do at Jewel of Havana. In fact, I named the company after the strongest woman I know, my mother. My new Snow in Havana Jewelry line is a tribute to her story, and what an amazing story it is!
My mother first came to the United States from Cuba as part of Operation Peter Pan. Operation Peter Pan (or Pedro Pan) was led by Father Byran O. Walsh in response to the mounting political regime of Fidel Castro. As Castro began closing private schools, fears that the government would begin sending minors to work camps in the Soviet Union caused many Cuban parents to risk their lives and homes to get children out of the country and into Miami.
Children of all ages were sent to America alone, relying on shelters and group homes run by Catholic Charities. The operation began in 1960 but abruptly ended in 1962, following the Cuban Missile Crisis. Because of this, nearly all of the children were without their parents until the later half of the decade. Though most were eventually reunited with their parents, some never saw them again.
One of those children was my mother. She was 17 when she came to America, after working for the underground herself. I wanted to ask her a few questions about her own experience.
If you could describe your experience in one word, what would it be?
I guess the word would be: “lesson”. A real life lesson.
Communication was probably the greatest challenge. I had studied English in school and was able to speak the language to get by. However, understanding people that spoke fast or use idioms that I was not familiar with was very difficult. At school, it would take me a very long time to complete reading assignments and since I had to also work to sustain myself, there was not much time for sleeping.
Do you think you learned anything about yourself throughout this ordeal?
I learned that God was truly my rock and my companion and that, feeling Him at my side, I was stronger than I could have ever imagined. That I grew up and matured in the time it takes an airplane to fly from Cuba to Miami. That I (a sheltered and pampered teenager) was able to hold a full-time job and save money, while at the same time still continue my education. That I was extremely grateful that my new-found country was full of generous people and opportunities that allowed me to heal and dream again.
Why Snow In Havana?
So, why Snow in Havana? Well, it’s a reference to one of my favorite books, “Waiting for Snow in Havana” by Carlos Eire, which chronicles his own story of fleeing Cuba under Operation Peter Pan. The combination of Erie’s story, that of my mothers, and perhaps even the unknown stories of the thousands of other Cuban children who came to America almost six decades ago, sums up some of the core beliefs I learned from my mother. We all have what it takes to weather any storm (even when we don't think we can). We do not know what life holds for us, but there is always hope and new beginnings and if we persevere, miracles can happen, and what could be more miraculous than Snow in Havana?
Introducing the Snow In Havana Jewelry Collection
Dodi Barron Groves
Just after my diagnosis, we were showing at Festival International in Lafayette. I had already had two surgeries and was to start radiation after the show. Dodi and Bryan stopped by to visit and this time her usual bouncy curly hair was in a pixie cut. She looked cute as a button but it’s when I learned she was having her own battle with cancer. In true Dodi fashion, she immediately began to share with me what to expect on the next part of my treatment journey and helped take away much of my fear of the next steps. She became one of my cancer angels, letting me know what to expect and encouraging me along the way. Dodi was the very first recipient of the Draped In Love copper earrings just after I created the original design.
Dodi was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana. After attending the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, she began teaching at Katharine Drexel Elementary. For 20 years Dodi taught kindergarten to over 450 students, touching many lives along the way.
Dodi was such a giving person. She was known to always serve others, often paying for clothes, supplies, lunches and snacks for those in need. She also anonymously provided resources to less fortunate families throughout her community.
Dodi began her battle with cancer in 2008. Even throughout her own treatment, she was still known to reach out and help those around her. During chemotherapy and radiation, she was known by many other patients as their “chemo buddy”, always uplifting and encouraging everyone she met along the way.
What I loved most about Dodi was her joyous spirit. I looked forward to seeing her and her beautiful family at every festival or market when I was in town and we would chat like old friends. It wasn’t possible to leave Dodi’s presence in a worse mood than you started. All who knew her were familiar with her radiant joy and contagious happiness.
Dodi lost her battle in 2015, due to medical complications of breast cancer. She left behind Bryan and their daughter, Ava. I, along with everyone who knew her, continue to remember her as the kind and radiant person she truly was.
The Witches Ride
I knew I had to let everyone know about this event and this amazing organization dedicated to my friend. I also wanted to make sure this new collection worked to benefit the foundation, which is why I decided to devote proceeds to the Dodi Groves Memorial Fund with every purchase from the Sterling Silver Draped in Love Collection.
I think it is impossible for me to do anything that could properly thank Dodi. Her kindness and warm-hearted nature are things I will never forget. I hope that in partnering with her foundation, I can help others like she devoted her life to and work to keep her memory alive.
This is the last pill.
Although (odd as it sounds) cancer brought many blessings, it has also taken many friends who had reached this milestone before me.
This is the last little pill.
I called it a healing treatment to help me cope with it. It was both a daily reminder of the cancer yet a daily reminder to live life to the fullest.
It was a daily reminder of each friend who lost their battle in the years I have been taking it. It is not lost on me that the same may happen to me.
It’s a new way of life. A “new normal”. I had heard cancer survivors use that term before but I really didn’t understand until I went on the journey myself.
I have now been cancer free for 5 years. This is the last pill of my healing treatments.
I want to celebrate this moment, this journey & the blessings it brought with it. There were many not so pleasant things but I want to focus on the good I saw, the friendships made, the deepening of love between friends & family. But mostly I want to celebrate the cancer survivors who helped me along the way. They were my cancer angels here on earth. The ones I created the Draped In Love Collection for as a thank you for all they did to help as we navigated those first days. Three of them are now Heavenly Angels & with each healing treatment these last 1,825 days, I have thought of them...their strength, their courage, their selflessness, their complete joy of life & warrior attitude.
In celebration of this milestone and in honor of those angels who are no longer with us, today I am releasing the Draped In Love Collection in sterling silver. The copper pieces will continue to raise money for the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center but these new silver pieces will contribute to the Dodi Groves Breast Cancer Fund.
I will share more about Dodi's story and this very special foundation formed in her honor next week. Today, I want to say thank you, celebrate this milestone & all those who helped us along the way. I am forever grateful and promise to keep paying it forward whenever I can. xo Ana
Well... this just happened! So honored to be chosen for the Juror's Award at the Red River Revel this week. What a nice and unexpected surprise. Great way to start Revel 44!
The Red River Revel Art Festival runs until Sunday, October 6, 2019. Come see us in Booth #8 and check out our new - Steel Magnolias Jewelry Collection completed just in time for the Revel.
That said, the plant has taken on new meaning with the emergence of the Red Magnolia Theatre Company in August 2017. What began as a group of friends with a passion for theatre quickly became an all-female theatre company, complete with innovative concepts and stunning performances.
Their first performance, Love Loss and What I Wore, debuted in October of 2018. Founders Michele Taylor Johnson and Paula Shreve wanted to do something special for their company on opening night, so they reached out to me for the perfect gift.
I was thrilled to combine my love for theatre as well as jewelry design. We worked together to make custom pieces for each co-founder, serving as a reminder of their hard work as well as their continued-commitment to bring art to our community.
I sat down with Paula and Michele to discuss the theatre company, the custom jewelry, as well as their upcoming production.
The Red Magnolia Theatre Company
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Michele, tell me how Red Magnolia Theatre Company began.
There would be no Red Magnolia Theatre Company if it weren't for Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias. I lived in North Carolina many years ago, and while there I played Shelby in Minerva Production's Steel Magnolias in Wilmington, NC. Minerva was an all-female theatre company and my experience with them and that show was so profound it stuck with me, almost twenty years later. I was sitting at my desk one day, thinking about that show, and decided to see if Minerva Productions was still around. I found their website and emailed them on a whim, trying to find the contact for Anne O'Shea, the founder of Minerva and also "my M'Lynn" in our production of Steel. She was so excited to reconnect and began giving me advice if I really wanted to start a female theatre company.
Why the name Red Magnolia?
I chose the name Red Magnolia as tribute to Steel Magnolias, Minerva Productions, and the "Red" for my hometown of Baton Rouge, the "Red Stick." Also, because I found this quote on the web: Known to be one of the oldest flowering plants, the magnolia represents beauty, strength, and endurance in ever changing times
I saw Jewel of Havana's booth setup at Theatre Baton Rouge many years ago. I walked over during an intermission of a show I was attending. I was drawn to the name as my mom was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. We discussed Cuba, Louisiana, and I bought my mom a necklace as a gift that day.
Michele and I wanted to give each co-founder of Red Magnolia a unique gift at the opening night of our first production, Love Loss and What I Wore by Nora and Delia Ephron. As I already knew you and your own performance history as an actress, it was a no brainer to ask if we could work on a custom piece. Being a local, creative, female business owner also supports Red Magnolia's mission to collaborate among women in the arts.
The magnolia is Louisiana's state flower. It is also a symbol of stability and grace. It made sense that we find a local jeweler to create a piece of jewelry unique to Louisiana and that would represent an all-female theatre company. Jewel of Havana was the obvious choice as we all love all of the handcrafted pieces, the creations are inspired by nature, and you understand the mission of the Red Magnolia Theatre Company.
This creative process was really all Ana. We met and discussed a custom piece that would have a magnolia on it. We also wanted an affordable price point! After working on the original design, I came to the studio to look at the prototype. I could tell it was going to be beautiful.
I LOVED the finished product. The pendant was an excellent choice because you could add whatever necklace, chain or ribbon unique to you to it. All the co-founders have uniquely different personalities, so it was perfect. The pendant was a not only a perfect gift, but it signified strength as well as beauty. It was exactly what we had wanted!
Michelle, if I understand correctly, you are now working on your second production? Tell me about it.
Our second show will be the one of my heart, Steel Magnolias. Full circle. Even crazier, it will be performed on Theatre Baton Rouge's second stage, right where my husband proposed to me and where I met him.
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As I returned home later that day, I just couldn't get the shade off my mind. I decided to check out Pantone for some inspiration and to see if I could find the color. For those of you who don’t know, Pantone is a company dedicated to color. They created the Pantone Color Matching System to standardize color reproduction in a variety of industries, and regularly put out predictions for upcoming color trends. I find myself heading over to the site constantly, hoping for a sneak peek at the season’s latest trends.
Pantone Classic Colors for Fall 2019
This gem closely resembles the guacamole color. That bright gleaming green is just about enough to stop traffic. It would pair well with some of the neutral colors Pantone suggests, like cream, navy or gray.
This gem closely resembles the nephrite jade, but it’s a bit lighter. Like the nephrite, you can definitely match this stone with a ton of neutrals, or wear the guacamole color for an extra ounce of excitement.
Graphic Feldspar Jasper
This is one of the most perfect neutral-color gems! Beyond pairing well with literally any color in your closet, this wood-tone creamy brown is sure to make the deep green shade shine.
African Green Opal
This luscious gem would be perfect with a darker green. I especially love the brown and terracotta veins in this stone, it brings out the amazing color of the stone and its sure to bring it out in your clothes too!
In a world where men are getting a bum rap by the ones who misbehave, I get to see the absolute best in them every day. They are thoughtful, they care and most of all, they love you big.
Take for example, my brother Hugo. Hugo is a teacher at Saint Joseph’s Academy and his wife, Stacia, is the principal. The school recently celebrated its 150th anniversary, complete with an entire season of celebratory events to commemorate Saint Joseph’s work in the lives of so many.
The 150th Anniversary Gala was the last of these events, a grand finale of sorts for the volunteers who had worked tirelessly for months, Hugo and Stacia included. Hugo decided he wanted to do something special for the people who had honored the school so well. He enlisted my help, searching for unique jewelry to gift to the volunteers and to his wife.
After some brainstorming, we decided that we would work together to make custom jewelry, incorporating the school’s shield. We ended up making a pair of cuff links, two rings, a pendant and a pair of earrings. Hugo has always been a thoughtful gift giver but this project was a really special one. I loved having him in the studio and collaborating on the designs.
I recently spoke with Hugo about the gifts and the use of jewelry for a very special thank you.
Hugo's Thoughtful Gifts
Okay Hugo, kind of break down the event and the reasoning for the gifts.
I am a teacher at Saint Joseph’s Academy and my wife is the principal, so we are both very involved in the school. We were celebrating our 150th anniversary this year. We had some key people, including the chair of the committee, who help put all of the events on and some other people who had just been such a key part of the celebration and had given themselves to a degree that you cannot pay.
I wanted to give a gift, but I did not want to just give something that I could purchase anywhere. I had the idea to give something handmade. I have watched you make jewelry forever, so that was my first idea of something to give. Additionally, I was fortunate to go a step further and help work on some custom pieces myself.
I wanted something that had a connection. I wanted to give them something special, so when they looked at it they knew that the work they had done was appreciated, and that they would remember all the good things of the process of putting on the events.
Jewelry is something you put on at special times and it carries a special connotation. I guess I was also thinking the gala was a black-tie affair and maybe something they could wear. Although being a guy, I neglected to think that the outfits had already been picked out and coordinated with jewelry!
Why did you decide to use the school’s shield?
I think it just being centered around this celebration. This is how I really came to know these people. SJA is a vocation to me. My wife has been there for 23 years, I have been there for 8 years. It is special to us. The shield is the logo of the school so to incorporate that into the jewelry is something I was really excited about doing.
It was eye-opening to see how much work goes into each piece. Not only in how careful you have to be to design everything but just everything in general. It was pretty impressive to learn. And fun to do!
How did you react when you first saw it?
I was absolutely thrilled. I couldn’t wait to give them to my friends and my wife. My wife did not know that I was making a ring for her. She actually did not know that I was making a ring at all, I just told her that I was making cuff links, so she was surprised.
What were the reactions of the recipients?
They were floored. I presented to them right before the gala began and they were very touched. I received a lot of secondhand stories of people who were telling me about seeing them and loved it.
The ring is beautiful and that equates to the appreciation of the school. It’s not something that was mass produced and I think they understood that. In fact, I had a couple of people ask where they could buy one when they saw it. I loved the idea that it was something that was thought out specifically for them. I wanted people that received it to know they are special.
Thank you! It was my pleasure and such an honor to be a part of the process. I’m humbled by the service that they gave to a place that I care so much about.
Thankfully, you all keep me busy in the studio and my MVP (aka Dad) has been busy too. Finding time to conceive, design and build the new booth has been challenging. Luckily we've been able to steal a bit of time this summer to conquer some projects long in need of attention.
With that, I'm so excited to announce we'll be debuting the (almost) finished display at the Baton Rouge Arts Market this Saturday. We won’t have the walls up and not everything is complete but I’d love for you to come by and let us know what you think, what could make it better for you or what you’d like to see more or less of. (We'll have some new jewelry too :)
The art show season is right around the corner so I wanted you to know we will have a fresh new look thanks to our MVP (aka Dad), Mom's mad sewing skills & a little assist from one of our Children’s Jewelry Consultants!
For those of you not in the BR area, we hope to see you this fall as we take our new booth on the road! Click here to see when we'll be at a show near you.
We sat down with Michele Johnson, President of Red Magnolia Theatre Company, to speak about her mother Paula Taylor, and what makes her special. It is truly heartwarming to see how highly Michele thinks of her mother. We hope you enjoy her words as much as we did.
Michele and Paula
She is very strong. She was a single mom before she married my dad when I was eleven. So it was just me and her for a really long time.
She managed Toys R Us in the 1980’s as the head manager over a bunch of people, so I really have always viewed my mom as a little bit ahead of her time because I think women in the eighties weren’t really at that level yet.
I just view her as probably the strongest person I know. She is very loving but she can definitely be stubborn! I think I get that from her. She is the person you call if someone isn’t treating you right, she is not someone you want to mess with.
Do you ever wear any of her jewelry?
Oh absolutely. The older we get, the more similar our tastes become but yes, we borrow each other’s jewelry all the time. In fact she was just fussing at me yesterday because I still have her pearls that I borrowed!
What does wearing her jewelry mean to you?
I guess it really signifies everything about our relationship. To me, it shows the comfort level we have with each other. I do feel like a little bit of her is with me when I’m wearing her jewelry.
What is your favorite thing about your mom?
Probably our relationship. She really is my best friend. My mom is the person I talk to every morning when I am bringing the kids to school and usually in the afternoon. I guess because it was just us two for so long, we have a unique connection.
What would you like to say to your mother on Mother’s Day?
Happy Mother’s Day to my rock, best friend, and best Pippy. I love you Mom!
Happy Mother's Day Paula & Michele!
xo Jewel of Havana
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Ana Maria Andricain
Ana is a metal clay certified artist creating handcrafted nature inspired artisan jewelry from her Baton Rouge studio. If you love natural gemstones and metal, welcome home!
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