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Rhônya Obst

Rhônya Obst - Founder of Bella Bohemian 2005

I grew up in Belo Horizonte, the capitol of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. Formed by colonists who searched for gold, gems, and diamonds, Minas Gerais was relatively isolated from European influence which added to the huge influx of gold and other valuable minerals in the area and helped the local people develop their own styles of art. Just as my hometown did back in the 18th century, I have found my own artistic style which is expressed through jewelry design with the utmost respect for both our natural environment as well as artisan craftsmanship.

In my heart I knew I had an artistic inclination which lead me to a number of adventures living in a number of different cities and islands in Brazil. In the end, this Wanderlust was to take me to New York in the U.S. Life wasn't all sunshine and coconut drinks, there were definitely failures and disappointments. On top of that, I had to learn English and to acclimate to a new country; the latter being yet another experience that was both fun and frustrating here and there. I always kept moving forward without complaining or taking the mindset of a victim. Instead, I stood tall and confident with a big smile on my face and gratitude in my heart for living in such an inspiring and thriving and bustling metropolis as New York. I founded Bella Bohemian LLC as a hobby in 2005 from my New York City apartment, during which time I was also working as a hostess at trendy parties in Manhattan and the Hamptons, where I was surrounded by beauty, fashion and amazing people.

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Artist: Chris Bovet

My adventure began as I kept passing by a shop called Beads of Paradise. This shop is not your average bead shop as they carry a vast array of exotic artifacts, precious and semi-precious stones, heirlooms, raw materials as well as beads and ethnic jewelry from around the globe. This store is definitely one of New York's gems!

With each passing, I became more intrigued by the colors and gypsy designs displayed in the show window, also reminiscent of Balinese art. It wasn’t long before I started with my first class in bead work and some other classes, which was so much fun and exciting because the colors of the beads mixed all together was simply fascinating. I felt that “colors make people smile, and help lift spirits, making you feel warm, happy and beautiful.” As my passion for creating jewelry kept growing, I started to create a few jewelry pieces for myself, while at the same time people started to ask where I got this jewelry? I was proud to be able to say that I had made them. At first I didn't have the confidence but soon after I built my audience and decided to make it more professional.

As interest in my jewelry grew, orders started coming in slowly, and ladies showed their admiration and support for what I was doing. This way word was getting out so that I saw myself working double in parties and making jewelry until late into the night. And would you believe I didn’t even have business cards nor a web site yet? Now I was placing orders for more materials, visiting the bead stores, making sure the orders were delivered on time, setting up appointments with clients, etc. Word of mouth spread quickly because my jewelry is a unique, one-of-a-kind style, with fine creativity and intriguing details in each of the pieces. “Especially while working as a hostess in parties, many times I felt so sleepy that I began to realize that it was time to focus on designing jewelry full-time.” Most of my inspiration came from people and places observed in everyday life as well as setting up events, hosting events, etc. For example while traveling, I was keenly aware of what women and men were wearing and buying and paying special attention to in terms of cultures and trends in the environment. Now you can easily see why I'd throw myself into this new and exciting journey!? All of this dynamic interaction only fueled my creative process.

I design pieces based on what I see in my current surroundings. “As a designer nothing makes me happier than to see someone wearing my jewelry. It’s such an honor that someone loves a piece that I made! I want the jewelry I design to be beautiful, bold, vogue and colorful with huge varieties, for each person...” while also giving you the chance to escape mass-production.

Its purpose is to inspire and make you feel beautiful — some pieces are made for those who are not afraid to be different and don’t care to follow trends, but instead, set their own trends. It’s “wear what you like” as way to express yourself and stand out from the crowd and don’t let anyone dictate how you should wear anything. Just be and live in the moment, always in your own unique way and BE happy.

One of my clients commented that my jewelry never looks the same twice. I took it as a compliment because I’m able to create pieces for people out of all different walks of life, because we are all different.

With many more months of hard work, I had my first website built and started to participate in trunk shows, fashion and other designer events as well as continuing my classes in jewelry design and crafting. Today Bella Bohemian is a symbol of playful elegance, free spirit and most importantly, environmentally responsible artisanship and fairness.

After 15 years of living in NYC, I met my future husband Detlev and moved to California, 10 years later we move to Virginia, stories for another day. As I began to work with him as a team, the company grew from a small jewelry store to a diverse collection of products. This new chapter in my life brings my husband and I genuine fulfillment as we enjoy each other's company as much as we enjoy collaborating on building this business out of those inner energies that give us delight.

Welcome to Bella Bohemian ~

XOXO Rhônya
» it's really me


PS: Come visit me on my personal blog.