Inspired by her Nigerian heritage, and honing her skills with experience at Nordstrom and Tiffany & Co., Yinka Orisan launched her eponymous jewelry and accessory line in Summer 2014. Ayiba’s Asabe Vincent-Otiono interviewed the young designer and entrepreneur to find out more about her new line.
Asabe: What did you study in college?
I studied supply chain management at Howard University, but I also took a few design and metal smith classes on the side.
Asabe: Why did you decide to create a jewelry line?
I enjoy the hands-on creative process involved in making jewelry. I feel that jewelry adds the finishing touch to complete an outfit. It’s a piece of art that travels with you, helping to convey a particular mood or mark a milestone in your life.
Asabe: How would you describe your line?
I would describe my line as edgy, but classic. I tried to make sure to have enough variation to give everyone a chance to express their own personal style.
Asabe: Could you describe the first time you created a piece of jewelry?
I started making jewelry when I was in the 10th grade. It was actually my father that encouraged me to start my own business when I told him that I wanted to get a job to help pay for some of my junior prom expenses. He signed me up for a class and I ended up making a pair of crystal earrings, which I adored. I vividly remember the instructor making me draw a pair of earrings I would like to wear. Then based on the materials she presented in front of me, she guided me step-by-step on how to bring my very amateur drawing to life. I wore those earrings everyday until I lost them.
Asabe: Where does the symbol for the line come from?
The symbol actually came to me in a dream. I had just paid a graphic designer to create a logo for me and I was stuck with it because I had exceeded the maximum amount of revisions. I was frustrated and made a decision to just let it go and worry about a logo later. After 1 week, I woke up from a dream and the symbol was the only thing that stood out in my memory. I immediately sketched it out and had this lightbulb moment. I interpreted it as the letter ‘Y’ mirrored horizontally for Yinka and the letter ‘O’ in the center for Orisan.
Asabe: What kind of person wears your pieces?
The kind of person who wears a Yinka Orisan piece does not want to be like everyone else and they are confident with their own style.
Asabe: What plans do you have for your line in the next five years?
In the next five years, I would like to expand my product range to include handbags and possibly leather goods.
Asabe: Lastly, what inspires you as a designer?
I am inspired by the bold patterns and symmetry found in traditional West African fabrics. Clean lines and geometric shapes are patterns you can see in this collection and they will remain prominent in future collections.
Shop Yinka’s line at www.yinkaorisan.com