Monday, November 16, 2009

Mateo Bijoux

As the purveyors of all things chic, it was only a matter of time before Plaids and Stripes featured the fab and ULTRA-glam Jamaican-born, New York-resident and scene-ster (and great friend) Mateo de la Harris! He's making a buzz in the fashion industry and with fashionistas all over; get to know him here!

1. How did the Mateo Bijoux line come about?

Well after college I started my own small marketing and management consulting business, Severe MGMT. I started marketing and account management for small jewelry designers, placing clients at Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus and other select high-end retailers. After successfully doing so, and through experience in jewelry, I decided to start Mateo Bijoux. I felt it was always difficult to find really great mens jewelry. So I wanted to take on this challenge and then move on to women fine and fashion jewelry.

2. Did you always see yourself designing jewelry?

I laugh at this question because I really didn't. Having lived in Jamaica, such things are far from your mind or imagination. In college, I studied for my undergrad, a Bachelors of Science degree in Hospitality Management (Hotel Management) at Southern New Hampshire University and for my Masters at Strayer University in DC, I did an MBA in Marketing and Management.
Me designing jewelry is so on the opposite side of the spectrum from what i have studied.

3. Do you see yourself NOT designing jewelry?

At this point no. I mean everything I see, whether it be a leaf, the zipper on my bag, ripples from the rain, I see jewelry. It has become a part of me. I like to think that when people wear Mateo Bijoux, they are carrying a piece of my heart.

4. How is living and working in NYC different than working and living anywhere else?

Well, its certainly different from living and working in Jamaica. (laughs)
People here are more open to change, they are more passionate, radical, and most just unique in their own way.
I live in Manhattan on the Lower East side, where I work from home and design in my studio. The Lower East side, as we call it LES, is very different from let's say the Upper West side. It's almost two different world in this Big Apple.
Working and Living in New York, you have to be focused as you can be sidetracked by the many distractions here. But overall it's great to be in New York; it's great for fashion, the arts, historical landmarks, theatre, and believe it or not you can get great Jamaican food here, too. (laughs)

5. Artistically, where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from my daily life, culture, and just the desire to be different, innovative and always making a statement no matter how subtle.
For example for my upcoming Spring 10 collection you see a lot of nature in the collection. My mother is big on gardening and I remember I would watch her in the morning watering the plants. I did an 18kt gold leaf cuff with diamonds. The way the diamonds are set resembles water dripping off the leaves. Just Magnifique!!
But overall my inspiration comes from everywhere, you can see that in my current, somewhat unisex collection; I turn general tools into jewelry, like a wrench into a very strong and masculine cuff, a screw into a pendant... Sometimes the simplest and basic element can be so powerful.

6. Who's your fave celebrity and why?

Hmmmmmmmm... My favorite... That's a hard one... I mean there is so many out there... I am very old school. I still love the divas like Patti La Belle and Whitney. I love Rihanna because she is causing a stir in the fashion world and just the overall media, taking fashion risks, being daring and just damn fierce. I like Beyonce also, I mean these young ladies are certainly standing out in the crowd with there talent and style.

7. Tell me some of the famous people you have fitted, designed for or who has worn your pieces...

Well so far, celebs are just hearing about Mateo Bijoux. Rihanna, Mischa Barton, and Vivica A. Fox have been seen wearing pieces from the collection. Other celebs such as Estelle and Joy Bryant have pieces from the Mateo Bijoux cocktail ring collection.
Alexandra Richards daughter of Rolling Stones star Keith Richard, has shot for Mateo Bijoux.
Countless models have been wearing my pieces, too. Last week I caught Dree Hemmingway, Cover Girl and friend of mine is wearing Mateo Bijoux, a spider web necklace with 18kt gold spider and diamond.

8. Who would you love to have wear your pieces?

To be honest, I know the best answer for this question would be some hot, famous celebrity like Hally Berry, Oprah, Nicole Kidman or even Mrs Obama to be wearing my jewelry. But in truth, I really wish everyone to be wearing Mateo Bijoux, no matter how small or elaborate of a piece. I want Mateo Bijoux to be a household name.

9. In your business, which aspect do you like the best- the part where you sit down with pencil and paper and design? The part where you source material and start making the pieces? Or the business aspect where the pieces are sold and a profit is earned?

My favorite part of the business is certainly where I just sit down, turn my Jill Scott and Floetry play-list on and sketch away, while drinking some peppermint tea. I love designing a piece on paper and then actually hold the final product in my hand, not to mention how the piece sits on the body. It's like therapy for me. The experience does something for my soul. If one were to take this away from me, I honestly would be lifeless.

10. Have you ever thought of interning with jewelry houses like Harry Winston or Tiffany & Co.? What are your thoughts on that?

I have thought about doing an internship with a major jewelry house. I was actually hired by one. They had offered me a great position to close my consulting firm and join them to manage their accounts and co-ordinate their sales with high profile clients. I turned down the position as I was being loyal to a client of mine, as well as because I felt it was just not my destiny. I am doing what the lord and the Universe want me to do, which is to create Mateo Bijoux. One day I will get to where they are today- Mateo Bijoux worldwide. (winks)

11. What are some of the future plans for Mateo Bijoux? Where do you want to see your line in the next 5 years?

Well, when I started Mateo Bijoux, I didn't just want it to be about jewelry, but I wanted to create a luxury brand. To be one of the first major black owned luxury house. Within the next 5 years, I want Mateo Bijoux to be available nationwide at some of the best retailers including Saks Fifth Ave, Neiman Marcus, Maxfield LA and others. I would like Mateo Bijoux to be on its way to becoming a household name. In the next five years Mateo Bijoux should have already launched other luxury items such as a men shoe line, a clutch and women shoe line and bag collection using some of the best skins.

Be sure to visit the website for more info!!

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