Twin Elegance: Empowered and Bold
Inspired by her childhood in Guyana, South America, Cloyette Harris-Stoute carries the jewelry-loving influence of her culture and a dedication to female empowerment in each of her pieces. Interchangeable and symbolic, her statement jewels promote bold self-expression and a joy of life. Read our exclusive interview to get the inside scoop behind the designs of Twin Elegance.
In Guyanese culture, there is a tradition regarding the bestowing of jewelry gifts to newborn babies. Can you speak to your experience with this, and how the tradition is embraced in your jewelry designs?
Guyana is known for its distinct high-karat yellow gold jewelry that is worn as an expression of status and pride, with bold and unique designs that celebrate our rich culture. This pride is nurtured from a very early age with the tradition of parents and grandparents gifting newborn babies and young children with handmade gold jewelry usually at the time of the baby’s christening or birthday. My parents also embraced these practices, which led to me having my own little collection of gold bangles, earrings, cross necklaces, and rings as a child. I later continued this tradition with my own children. These experiences have fueled my preference for using 18k gold in my designs to get a rich yellow gold finish that I have grown to love and appreciate.
The confidence of your mother has guided values of female empowerment—something that has become a value of your brand. Can you speak about this empowerment, and how she inspired you and your business?
Growing up as the eldest child and only girl child in my family, I spent a lot of time observing and learning from my mom as she navigated being a wife, and mother and working a full-time job. Her style, self-confidence, and creative talents, all strengths that I wanted to emulate, empowered me to embrace my own unique qualities. A few years ago, I launched a blog to highlight strong women, like my mom, and to empower other women through their stories. My business is the marriage of my twin passions, women empowerment, and jewelry designing, and being able to celebrate women by embracing the values that my mother taught to me is super empowering.
How do you hope your jewelry empowers women? How has being an entrepreneur empowered you?
I hope that the symbols of strength and love in my jewelry will articulate the beauty, self-love, and self-confidence of the women who wear my pieces. As the saying goes, empowered women empower women. As a teenager, I struggled with self-confidence and body image issues, so being an entrepreneur who creates jewelry that helps women to feel beautiful, confident, and free to express themselves is definitely empowering. It also gives me the opportunity to show the young girls who I mentor through my non-profit, Guyanese Girls Rock Foundation, that they too can become entrepreneurs and create their paths to success.
New York is at the heart of your brand, and you have drawn inspiration from your home country, Guyana, embracing generational jewelry. What are the similarities and differences between the two places that have inspired you, which you find essential to translate through design?
My experience in both places has definitely influenced my design aesthetics. The vibrant, exuberant energy of this big city encourages the freedom of bold self-expression and has inspired my creation of bold statement pieces, which is also the similar style of jewelry that is worn in Guyana. The difference lies in the choice of material that is used to create the jewelry. I work with only precious metals and stones, a preference that is influenced by my upbringing where fine jewelry is the common choice vs a more diverse and multicultural selection of jewelry that is made in New York from a wide variety of materials and techniques.
You have expressed that your designs are meant to celebrate and inspire confidence while valuing personal traits and strengthening self-expression. How would you describe the ways in which your collections help with all of this, and are there any pieces that come to mind to support these values, and why?
Yes, my collections are designed with women in mind to inspire confidence and encourage bold self-expression. Centered around elements of strength and self-love, my interchangeable aesthetic is infused with heart and pear-shaped cutouts, zodiac symbols, and natural gemstones that evoke sentimental feelings and deliver timeless styles. I strongly feel that wearing a piece of jewelry that embraces your personal and individual traits is a special feeling. The size of my pieces is another important factor as they are eye-catching and perfect for the woman who wants to be seen.
How does your brand differentiate from others in the market? What makes Twin Elegance unique?
Twin Elegance creates meaningful jewelry that is intended to outlast everyday trends. Each collection is inspired by a life experience or is a reference to my birth country and includes features that focus on empowering and celebrate women. Many pieces in my collections are also versatile, with interchangeable features that offers the wearer multiple styling options.
You have described your art as handcrafted jewelry, made to tell a story. What is one of your favorite stories behind a collection?
That would be the Zodiac Tibisiri bracelet collection. The links for these bracelets were inspired by the bundles of ‘Tibisiri” straw that my late grandmother used to create stunning handbags that she sold to department stores and local boutiques back in Guyana. The branches, or ‘spires’, taken from the Ité Palm are stripped by the women of the Arawak tribes in the Rainforest to produce the Tibisiri straw that is then used to create unique items of craft.
What is your process for creating and producing your designs? How do you work with private clients, if someone has something in mind?
After conceptualizing and sketching my designs, I work with a manufacturer in India to bring my pieces to production. Except for a few collections, the majority of my pieces are made to order from the designs that are listed on my website and handcrafted by artisans, including women. I chose India because of its rich history of jewelry making and the unique talents of the artisans. It is from this rich history, customs, and culture that the indentured laborer from India brought their talent of metalsmithing to the then colony of British Guiana (now Guyana) and established several jewelry-making businesses. Though I don’t currently work with private clients, it is my plan to offer this service beginning in 2023 for custom pieces that are made by artisans (goldsmiths) in Guyana.
Each collection is accompanied by a “behind the scenes” explanation for the designs. Which collection was the easiest to develop? Which was the most challenging, and why?
Zodiac Queens was the first collection that I developed and articulating all of the details, sourcing stones, and managing the manufacturing process was a bit challenging. The cannon bud collection has no stones and has elements from prior collections that made it much easier to develop.
You work with various precious stones and materials that have significant meaning, beyond their inherent beauty. Is there a particular gemstone that you prefer to work with? Why?
I love working with amethyst because of its numerous benefits and healing properties. The beautiful lilac crystal is thought to encourage connection and love and offer protection, humility, and spiritual wisdom. I was also born during the month of June under the Gemini zodiac sign, and light amethyst is of my birthstones.
Your designs are magnetic. Is there a favorite piece, amongst all your designs?
The prissy peacock double ring from the Peacock Passion Collection is one of my favorite pieces. It’s an oversize 2-finger ring and a great conversation starter for a social introvert like myself. In addition, it’s inspired by one of the most elegant and confident birds in the world, which is a true representation of the Twin Elegance woman.
What are the characteristics of a person who would be a great match for your brand’s aesthetic and identity? Who would you love to see wear one of your pieces next?
She’s a woman with an energetic personality who is confident, elegant, and comfortable in her skin. I would love to see actor Tracee Ellis Ross in one of my pieces. She is a multi-talented style icon with a schedule that involves lots of travel, and my interchangeable designs, including the oversize hoops which are wardrobe staples, will offer her multiple styling options.
What are your personal and professional mantras?
The Twin Elegance mantra “Keep Your Confidence Wrapped in Jewels” is a reminder to women to embrace their inner elegance, celebrate their successes and milestones, and always adorn themselves with confidence.
My personal mantra is “I am more than enough, I was born to Rock” it is also to remind myself and the young women that I mentor to be accepting of themselves, practice self-love, and have confidence to pursue their dreams with confidence.
To follow Cloyette Harris-Stoute’s creative journey visit https://www.twinelegance.com/ and follow @twinelegance on Instagram.