Bright, bursting with colour, and made by hand- Santa Isla combines some of NBNW's favourite things. The jewelry label, known for intricate beadwork from Columbia is run by the one of a kind Jessica Sanchez, a goddess of adornment and radiator of pure, joyous vibes. We caught up with the Colombian artist, ahead of our collaborative popup shop to tell us a bit more about her work.
Where did you grow up? Have you always had a strong connection to Colombian culture?
I was born in Cali, Colombia (Salsa capital of the world #funfact) and grew up part time in Toronto and part time in various Colombian cities. Colombian culture is part of my makeup - I'm not just connected, its who I am.
How was Santa Isla born?
Truth be told, I was fleeing from a bad relationship with a dude, but more importantly a bad relationship with myself. Santa Isla was born from my deepest desires to nurture my soul and do something that I was passionate about. I needed to create an outlet to freely express my creative + conscious self.
Can you tell us a little bit about where Santa Isla's pieces are made? Is the design a collaborative process with the family that makes them?
All pieces are made in Colombia. When I began Santa Isla the wonderful family I work with took lead in the design process, I simply suggested colors I gravitated to. With time our relationship grew stronger and my connection to the art form also grew giving me the confidence to take lead and design new styles. I now sketch each piece and then we collaborate on what's possible and other things we can come up with. The family I work with are amazing artists and we get along so well that our design process is my favorite thing. ever. They inspire me tremendously.
Describe a Santa Isla woman? Is there enough respect among customers for the value of handmade?
I call us #santaislagirls - she is confident, conscious and cool. Confident to wear what makes her feel good. Conscious about the story behind the hands who made each piece. Cool about living life and loving it.
I feel our generation is a lot more sensible about what we wear and how it's made. Our level of consciousness has grown and we want to know the full story. So yes, I believe the respect is there and it continues to grow.
The practice of adorning oneself cuts across geographical boundaries. In all your travels, where have you seen some of your most favourite forms of adornment?
I haven't traveled everywhere I want to go but to date INDIA takes the title. I get chills thinking about all the gold, pearls, bindis, henna, silks, gah! It's too much and by too much I mean just right. I can't get enough. My dream is to do a tour around Orissa and load up on everything I can get my hands on.
Tell us about your personal process of adornment?
I have staples that never come off: my gold septum ring from Varanasi, bead anklets from Jaipur, silver bangles I made, and pearl studs. Then comes the layering of a Santa Isla piece(s), my grandmother's rings, and anything else I'm in the mood to wear.
Your IG is full of collages, tell us about that?
I love to collage because it's a way to make sense of my random thoughts. You can create whatever you imagine, go to any place, and no one can contest it- it's therapy for me.