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.”
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.
“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.”
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.”
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.
“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.
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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.
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