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Latina artist Tatiana Cardona celebrates the feminine spirit through ceramics and jewelry collab with Konstantinos I. Leoussis

Lips are a powerful symbol. The image of red lips conjures many things—confidence, sensuality, freedom of speech, playfulness, love or a kiss. The mouth is where words, thoughts and ideas are expressed, and its subtle movements can unlock an array of emotion.  Miami-based Colombian ceramicist and artist, Tatiana Cardona, and NYC-based Jewelry Designer and Antiques Dealer, Konstantinos I. Leoussis, have collaborated on the new dynamic Female Alchemy capsule collection, celebrating the art of lips through wearable jewels.

Tatiana Cardona, Founder of Female Alchemy, says, “My work started off as an ode to the female artists that paved the way for the rest of us. With time it has since evolved into the embodiment of the fun, creative, lively feminine spirit. Lips carry our words out into the world, and help us articulate the messages we wish to send. My vessels carry their own message of the power in female energy. I wanted that energy to be able to be worn and taken with you everywhere, which is why I decided to collaborate with KIL NYC to bring my ideas to jewelry and make them more accessible for everyone.” 

Female Alchemy

Tatiana Cardona, Founder of Female Alchemy. (Photo courtesy Female Alchemy)

Tatiana would describe her work as lively, colorful, pop-inspired works of art that also provide a function. She creates functional art pieces because he wants people that may never have had an opportunity to purchase artwork to finally be able to have art in their home that also has purpose. “Your everyday mug can be just as fun, artful, and joyful as a beautiful painting hanging on the wall,” she says.

Her journey as a business owner came about after many began showing interest in her work during college. 

This pottery business was sort of thrusted upon me and it just kept growing so I had to grow with it, learning everything along the way,” says Tatiana. 

She began exploring the feminine themes of her art as part of a series of vases for her college thesis back in 2018 featuring the lips of different female artists that were important to art history. She was frustrated by the lack of female artists represented in art history books and set out to honor these women through her own art. After presenting her thesis project, Tatiana soon began receiving requests for mugs and vases in the same style and soon Female Alchemy was born. 

“The coolest thing that has happened to me and my business is having people like Haley Williams, Emma Roberts and Heidi Klum reach out to me and purchase my work. I literally could’ve never imagined that my work would be in their homes but it is absolutely amazing!” Tatiana shares.

She began exploring the feminine themes of her art as part of a series of vases for her college thesis. (Photo courtesy Female Alchemy)

“I have always dreamt of being an artist as a little girl but that dream was never encouraged by anyone except my father who was also an artist but never made a career out of it. Unfortunately he passed away when I was only nine years old and that support was no longer there in my life.”

Still, despite the lack of support, Tatiana was determined to never give up and follow her dreams. Growing up in an immigrant family also helped her develop a hard-working, passionate, and dedicated mindset. 

“Watching your family struggle financially and fight to succeed in this country speaking a language they don’t understand and still managing to keep your family afloat has made me confident in the fact that there is absolutely nothing you can’t do if you set your mind to it. Having faced those struggles at a young age really has made me fearless and resilient, and as a business owner you cannot be scared, you have to take the risk. You have to have faith in yourself.”

Female Alchemy

“Don’t ever let any of the struggles you have faced hinder you from moving forward,” says Tatiana. (Photo courtesy Female Alchemy)

Tatiana made a lot of mistakes along the way and learned many lessons too. When she started her business, she did not have a plan or a roadmap to follow. 

“I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going with this business,” she says. All she knew was that she wanted to make art pieces and that people wanted to buy them.

“I didn’t have an accountant or an LLC set up until a year after my business had already begun. So, my first bit of advice is to see an accountant before even opening your LLC or just getting some business and financial advice from a professional before doing anything will really allow you to start off on the right foot and not have to backtrack in the future.” 

Her second piece of advice to all aspiring Latina entrepreneurs and women business owners is to “not spend it before you make it.” 

(Photo courtesy Female Alchemy)

Tatiana experienced first hand the consequences of jumping headfirst into something without having the funds to back it. “When I started out, I dove right into getting a large studio space that was out of my budget but it was my dream space. I later had to give that up because I was only making art to pay bills and not from a place of love and creation. That really sucked the fun from what I loved doing and it made it really hard for me to enjoy it.” 

Lastly, she tells all the minority women out there looking to succeed in their passion to never give up and never listen to those who tell you you can’t succeed. 

“Don’t ever let any of the struggles you have faced hinder you from moving forward, use those struggles and turn them into skills to help you stand out and achieve your dreams and not as crutches that hold you back from working for what you truly want.”

Today, Tatiana has found success with her business, and her collaboration with Konstantinos Leoussis is expanding her reach and bringing more functional art pieces into homes around the world. 

Start your entrepreneurial journey with inspirational titles on Audible today!

Female Alchemy

 Your Favorite Necklace has an open-mouthed lip, recalling the moment before a kiss. (Photo courtesy Female Alchemy)

“When Konstantinos approached me via email about collaborating on a jewelry collection we began brainstorming right away. I loved his work and his ideas and also already had a few designs in mind, and he had just the right artistic touch to make them come together,” say Tatiana on working with Konstantinos Leoussis.

The collection features seven distinct designs which embrace feminine energy. Wearable for everyday glam, each piece is available for order in either sterling silver or 18K gold plate.

“It was an honor working alongside Tatiana to bring this collection to life. I am an admirer of her work and the passion she puts into it is palpable. While I am not a ceramics artist, I did sculpt each of the pieces from our collection in wax, pretending as though I was working with clay. I tried to invoke Tatiana’s creative drive and I think the collection really came out amazing. It is all handmade in New York City, and a lot of love goes into it,” says Konstantinos Leoussis.

You might be interested: Franca NYC co-founder, Jazmin de la Guardia on how art connects us through common language

Female Alchemy

 The Lip Ring is available in sizes 4 through 10, featuring an open mouth with two front teeth for an unapologetically fun statement ring. (Photo courtesy Female Alchemy)

To shop the Female Alchemy Jewelry collection, visit femalealchemy.com/collections/jewelry 

About KIL N.Y.C.

Inspired by a life of travel and antiquities, jeweler Konstantinos Leoussis created KIL N.Y.C. in 2018, to showcase his love of old-world techniques and motifs. KIL N.Y.C. puts an edgy and modern spin on sentimental jewelry, creating styles that are both easily wearable and instant heirlooms. 

About Female Alchemy

Each piece in the female alchemy collection is handmade by Miami-based ceramicist, Tatiana Cardona. As an artist, she strives to create lively, empowering functional art, to brighten up one’s home. The lip motif is inspired by the feminist movement of the 1960’s and 70’s, when red lipstick stood as a symbol of protest. Cardona’s work has since evolved into a positive and fun way to promote femininity in the sacred and ancient medium of ceramics.


*This article contains affiliated links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission. 

Franca NYC co-founder, Jazmin de la Guardia on how art connects us through common language

Jazmin de la Guardia is the co-founder of Franca NYC, a small Brooklyn based design studio that focuses on handmade ceramics. 

 Franca NYC was born from an idea: There are common threads that bind us. No matter where you come from or where you are going, there is a commonality to be discovered. This common language, or lingua franca, is what we strive to achieve.  Craftsmanship, design, and artistry make up the foundation of our work, and we continue to seek out ways to bring the soul of lingua franca to each piece.

Born in Paraguay, with a mother from Uruguay and a father from Cuba, Jazmin grew up with a passion for travel and art. That passion eventually led her to Pratt Institute in NYC where she received her Bachelor’s in Printmaking. Following her education at Pratt, Jazmin took her skills and passion for art to co-found Franca NYC with her business partner, Sierra Yip-Bannicq. 

The idea for their ceramics design studio came about in 2016, after both women expressed an interest in owning a business. 

“We were both working in small design studios at that time and as much as we loved our jobs, we were both really excited about the idea of starting our own business,” said Jazmin. “We decided to launch our brand at NY NOW, where we got a lot of exposure all at once and thankfully started getting orders to get us through those first months.” 

The women chose the medium of ceramics to be the focus of their business because it was something they both loved and had been drawn to back during their college days. Focusing on ceramics also had the benefit of being low-cost. Starting out, Jazmin and Sierra had a very limited budget, like many new entrepreneurs, so making their products in-house from start to finish without having to make a huge investment in machinery and production equipment was a big advantage. 

Jazmin working in studio. (Photo courtesy Jazmin de la Guardia)

Jazmin recalls one of her fondest memories of these early days, while she and Sierra worked in their first studio making their products. 

“Sierra and I are working long hours in our first studio, just the two of us, making what felt like a million cups and mugs. We felt like we were melting, we had no AC and the studio was so hot the tar from the rooftop—we were on the top floor, walk-up—was literally melting into our space. The kiln was firing and it just seemed like we were inside a giant oven. Even though the situation seemed less than desirable to most people, we were thrilled to be there and would not have wanted it any other way. For us it was all worth it because we were working towards building something of our own and being independent.”

The threads that bind: Leveraging social media and community 

As they developed their business, they learned to navigate challenges and obstacles and leverage their strengths. 

One of the biggest challenges they faced as their business grew was learning to be flexible with their production volume. Jazmin shared that there were many times when they had more orders than they could accept, while other times when the flow of orders was much slower. 

“It was important for us to try and keep our staff throughout the year so we decided to try and ride the slower times as best we could,” said Jazmin. “During the slower moments, we relied on social media to keep up with brand awareness. Thankfully things seem to be more stable now and we feel we can plan our production accordingly, but I would say trying to be as flexible as possible was key to us growing as a business.”

Franca NYC leveraged social media to stay connected with customers and build their network. (Photo Source)

Through the use of social media such as Facebook and Instagram, Jazmin and Sierra were able to stay connected with customers and gauge what products they were interested in. It’s this connection, both online and in their local community in NYC that has been their strength and helped Jazmin and Sierra drive their business forward. 

“Thanks to our community we were able to ask for advice when we needed it and learn from our peers. We’ve been very lucky in this sense,” said Jazmin. 

You might be interested: Argentinian artist Lucia Maman explores feminine themes

Jazmin admits that at the beginning, she never would have even thought to reach out to other people, or even strangers, to ask for advice or just chat about their experiences as a business owner. 

“Now I can say it’s one of the things I recommend most people do, especially women. A quick Instagram or Messenger DM can go a long way,” Jazmin said. “Always reach out to other women. Creating that network and community will be not only great for your business but will also help you get through some of the overwhelming times you’ll inevitably go through as a business owner.” 

As Franca NYC’s message states: There are common threads that bind us. No matter where you come from or where you are going, there is a commonality to be discovered.