Textile designer, painter, photographer, musician and jewellery designer: is there anything Lejoi Reese can’t do? Growing up in southern California, Lejoi always had an unwavering passion for the visual arts, and after graduating university she went on to explore many different avenues before settling her attention on jewellery. But Brave Chick isn’t just a jewellery brand. It’s a movement.
The LA brand aims to empower women and girls all over the world, using jewellery as a vehicle to promote anti-violence, anti-misogyny, authentic living and self-awareness. Women’s beauty should be celebrated, and their voices heard. A survivor of domestic abuse herself, Lejoi Reese is one inspiring, brave chick. She chats to us about the story behind her collection.
How did Brave Chick begin?
“Brave chick started after a childhood friend of mine offered to financially back a business to empower women and girls. Our concept was to create one-of-a-kind jewellery that would inspire women to feel confident to fulfil their true purpose. My pieces are unique and bold and they promote self-expression and bravery. My personal history of surviving domestic abuse has been the impetus to inspire women to celebrate their beauty and find their authentic voices to sing loudly!”
"Our concept was to create one-of-a-kind jewellery that would inspire women to feel confident to fulfil their true purpose."
How do you want people to feel when they wear Brave Chick jewellery?
“I want wearers of my jewellery to feel just as unique as the one-of-a-kind jewellery they’re wearing. I tell my five-year-old daughter every night: “Do you know you are special?” And she says, “Yes Mommy.” Then I say, “Do you know what being ‘special’ means?” She says, “Yes, there is no one else like me.” And I say, “Yes, and that is an AWESOME thing!” I want every woman in the world to feel special.”
How did you get into the jewellery industry?
“I’ve got two arts degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design, which led me to the corporate design world in New York City. After working in the wholesale textile design industry for over a decade, I decided to broaden my skills and experience by entering the retail sales and interior design industry. This gave me more free time to devote to my painting and jewellery making passions. I take pride in being a graphic designer, a textile designer, a painter, a photographer, a musician and a jewellery designer. These labels don’t define who I am, they are just proof of my passion for the arts. I use all of my design training, marketing experience and business skills to develop and actuate my dream of being a jewellery designer.”
"I take pride in being a graphic designer, a textile designer, a painter, a photographer, a musician and a jewellery designer. These labels don’t define who I am, they are just proof of my passion for the arts."
What inspires your designs?
“I’m most inspired by colour, form and function. I let the colours and sensibilities of gemstones guide the look and feeling of my collections, which usually results in a mixture of statement pieces and everyday simple pieces. I’ve always been attracted to contemporary and classic modernism. I love Mondrian, Picasso, Le Corbusier, Miro. Art history will always be at the back of my mind while designing, from Egyptian sculpture and Greek architecture to Aboriginal painting. It’s this combination of new and old that makes my style of jewellery unique and distinctive.”
Where do you create your best work?
“I do my best work in solitude - locked in my room by myself, even late at night while most of the world sleeps. I make all the jewellery by hand in my home studio.”
"I value respect for individuality, compassion for suffering, and empathy and sacrifice demonstrated through genuine love."
What are your core values at Brave Chick?
“My values are based on my strict upbringing by a physician father and teacher/librarian mother, combined with the extensive travel I’ve been privileged to experience. Growing up in southern Californian as a mixed-race African-American girl has also influenced my outlook on life. I value respect for individuality, compassion for suffering, and empathy and sacrifice demonstrated through genuine love. My family support has fostered these values, while my travel has enhanced my open-minded and accepting spirit. You can see my love of individuality in my one-of-a-kind designs. The diversity of my collections reflects the influence of the various cultures and global outlook I possess. We give back by donating to non-profit organisations committed to the fight against domestic abuse and violence.”
"I have seriously big dreams and drive to see my concept of “The Brave Chick Movement” become a global phenomenon."
What’s the most meaningful piece of jewellery you own?
“Alexandrite is my favourite gemstone, because of its rarity and ability to change colour in different lights. After my divorce, I bought myself an antique alexandrite ring and it means so much to me now because I bought it BY MYSELF. It’s a symbol of freedom, independence and “other-worldness” for me.”
What’s been the highest point of your career so far?
“Presenting my jewellery to a prospective customer while sharing my story of surviving domestic abuse and experiencing them open their heart to share their own story of abuse. We hugged and we cried, but then felt renewed by the realisation that we can share in the wisdom of experience and beauty of my jewellery.”
What does the future hold for Brave Chick?
“I have seriously big dreams and drive to see my concept of “The Brave Chick Movement” become a global phenomenon. I want to see The Brave Chick Movement be a meaningful movement of emotional and spiritual support for women around the world. My jewellery and brand will be the vehicle to promote anti-violence, anti-misogyny, authentic living and self-awareness.”