I'm a big fan of jewelry, as should be obvious to you guys by now. It's one of the easiest ways to incorporate something unique into my look, and it can all be packed up into a small suitcase, the most travel-friendly kind of collection!
The other thing I love about jewelry is that EVERY culture has it. In nearly every country I've been to, I've gotten a piece of jewelry. I'm inspired by the different traditional accessories people of various cultures have created. Native American jewelry is especially popular right now, and versions of it have often been incorporated in vintage looks over the decades, too (though often in a more stereotypical, kitschier way).
I found out about Lenise Omeasoo through a feature in Native Max Magazine. She is a Native American (Blackfeet) artist that creates hand-beaded statement jewelry with motifs inspired by and incorporating traditional Blackfoot aesthetics. Her jewelry designs are bold and twinged with tradition, and I knew I'd love to have some for my own! I am passionate about supporting communities that create beautiful aesthetics and buying authentic pieces. Mainstream stores are producing a lot of "tribal" stuff now that nods to Native motifs without giving credit or support to the communities they came from, and vintage clothing oftentimes did the same in their day. By buying from Native artists, I can confidently wear these gorgeous pieces and know I am giving credit where it is due.
I wore these earrings with a black 1940s dress I recently acquired, but can't you see them with jeans and a leather jacket (*cough*Janey*cough)? They can go vintage, they can go boho, Western, all sorts of fabulousness!
I bought this pair of hand-beaded earrings from her, and she kindly agree to answer some questions about herself, her culture, and her business so we could get to know her a bit more.
Where did the name "Antelope Women Designs" come from?
I wanted to make my own brand… a brand for women, jewelry that makes a women feel confident and willing to take her own personal style to the next level with my statement pieces. My Indian name is Antelope Fast Runner. I was given this name after I won my first state title in cross country. My mother's Indian name is Antelope Woman Stands Alone; she too was a cross country champ. The antelope is an important animal in our family, a family of runners. So, as you can see, me and my mother's Indian names inspired my brand name!
How would you describe your heritage/culture?
I would describe my culture and the people behind it as resilient.
How did you learn to make beaded jewelry?
I taught myself to bead. At the time I started a family of own and moved away from my home. My mother is a good beadier and so is my sister; you can say the inspiration to start a new hobby came from them. When I first started, I knew the basics of tacking down beads and stitch edging. Over the months I started to experiment with larger beads and sequins. I'm still learning new skills and developing the business part of selling art. I plan to make my designs more complex and also to bead larger projects. I have some amazing projects in the works!
What is the significance of this jewelry to your family's heritage?
I think there are two different types of beadwork. We have the traditional style with a nice color contrast and symmetrical design, then there is the contemporary style, meaning we like to use bling, design with a more vibrant look, trying out new fabrics. Our dancing regalia is evolving. It's exciting!!
Do you wear your pieces with your everyday clothing, or do you save it for special occasions with traditional clothing?
I tend to make statement, everyday jewelry. I love how you can wear a simple top and look amazing with one or two pieces. I do make regalia pieces as well that the customer only wears when they dance at a powwow or other gatherings.
Why is it important to buy authentic jewelry from First Nations artists rather than just buying "Native American inspired" pieces from mainstream stores?
I think it's a choice between buying something you got at the mall that's machine-made or having a custom piece made by an artist that knows the culture, an original piece made for you.
What is a part of your culture that you feel is misunderstood by people from other cultures?
A lot of things are misunderstood about natives; as modern humans we stereotype different cultures. You have to take the time to learn about them. I have seen over the past years our culture has taken on a great interest in fashion and design. I myself don’t see anything wrong in someone seeing inspiration in my culture and giving it a new look.
What is something from your culture/heritage that you are especially proud of?
I'm proud to be a Blackfeet woman because it’s an honor to be born into a culture that is still blooming.
Where can people check out and buy your pieces? Do you have any social media accounts we can follow, too?
You can find me on Facebook, I have a page called Antelope-women Designs. The site is under construction!
Do you incorporate Native American motifs into your wardrobe already, or would you like to? How do you feel about buying from Native designers versus from mainstream shops? Is there anything that has especially inspired you in Native fashion?
This post is not sponsored by Antelope-women Designs, and I have not been compensated for it. I purchased these earrings myself and just wanted to share how awesome they are with you guys!