Ebijou Founder Elma Felix Handcrafts Jewelry Inspired by Her St. Lucian Upbringing
Meet Elma Felix, cool girl and founder of Ebijou Jewelry.
Elma is a six-year Sarasota resident by way of Miami and a grad of University of Miami School of Architecture and Urban Design. During the work week, she helps shape the development and design of Sarasota County —from land use to public policy, including public art. (In fact, she’s organizing a committee to bring the Florida Association of Public Art Professionals' annual conference to Art Ovation in May—the forum will highlight the benefits of public art and how it enriches our lives, infrastructure and architecture.)
And during her off time, Elma designs and creates a must-own, completely fetching line of accessories that will bring color, texture and dimension to your wardrobe—the kind that will get you stopped in Fresh Market for the age-old question, "Wherever did you find that?"
What’s truly exciting and impressive is that this talented artisan has landed a coveted spot in the oh-so-chic Sarasota Art Museum shop curated by guy-with-an-eye Peter Capriotti. Be sure to pop in for her limited edition capsule collection created exclusively for SAM, because once it’s gone…it’s gone. She can also be found at a trunk show on Feb. 12, 2020, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., at The Ringling Museum Store.
But before you go, get to know Elma, what inspires her designs, and the question she’s frequently asked.
Tell us about the meaning behind the brand name…
Ebijou is a blend of my name and my culture. My first initial is E, and "bijou” translates to "jewelry" in Kwéyol, a fusion of French and Afrikaans that's spoken on St. Lucia, where I was raised.
…and your background.
I was born in Brooklyn to St. Lucian parents. When I was 7, my dad got an opportunity to relocate, so we packed everything and moved from big city life to island life. It was an incredible childhood! Swimming in the bluest of oceans, eating the freshest food and being immersed in culture is something I took for granted until I was away from it.
I left St. Lucia to pursue a degree in urban design and architecture, which I practice today.
How did you get into creating jewelry?
I’ve always made my own jewelry, mostly because I could never find anything I liked. I started experimenting with textiles and metals a few years ago and created this really funky braided piece. Walking through Miami International Airport, someone attempted to buy it off me! That’s when I knew I might have something really special on my hands. I continued to experiment with traditional braids, cords and twists; every re-design got better and better. Years later, the aesthetic of Ebijou continues to evolve. I couldn’t be happier with where we are, and I'm terribly excited for the future!
It’s clear there’s meaning to the art you create, so there must be a backstory to the materials you use.
Definitely. Textiles are at the center of every piece I make—patterns, prints and bold colors. Making sure they’re top quality is of the utmost importance to me. I source my textiles, which are authentic Ankara wax prints, directly from Accra, Ghana. Most prints have a traditional backstory, which ads a layer of depth to the pieces. Ebijou’s signature magnetic clasps and toggles are custom made with the brand’s logo embedded on them. Everything comes together carefully to make a fabulous adornment.
I’m loving that your work can be found in Sarasota Art Museum’s gift shop — how did that come about?
I’ve had some surreal moments! Ebijou being in the Sarasota Art Museum gift shop is definitely one of them. I have an incredible team of friends who are equally incredible creative professionals. I shot a lookbook recently with my amazing photographer friend Matthew Holler. The images were amazing and started spreading within my network before they were released. Anne-Marie Russell saw the images, learned about the brand, and through a series of emails connected me to [Peter Capriot], the museum store manager. After a quick coffee meeting, he asked if I could create a capsule collection for the museum’s opening. The five-piece collection is limited edition and uses the museum’s signature fuchsia, along with a bold graphic pattern in black, white and navy. It’ll be in the museum store until it sells out!
Lastly, what’s the most frequent question you’re asked about your jewelry?
I’ve been asked increasingly about the wearability of a piece, especially because of the use of traditional textiles. Although layered in history, the pieces are an outward expression of my culture to the wearer. They’re made for everyone, so don’t feel intimidated!