Named after French botanist Pierre Magnol, the magnolia is a beautiful flowering plant that many in Baton Rouge have come to love and admire. The official flower of Louisiana, magnolia trees commonly grace the streets of this city, symbolizing beauty and elegance at every turn.
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
Paula, tell me a little bit about how you first learned about Jewel of Havana?
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.
Why did you originally reach out for a custom piece?
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.
Why did you want these items to be custom made?
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.
Explain the process of creating these pieces.
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.
What was your reaction to the finished piece?
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!
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!