Marisha Lee-Guy finds inspiration in everything Caribbean and uses it to create bold, hand-made jewellery.
“Exotic Pieces By M was inspired by the natural beauty of the Caribbean people and the natural materials of the Caribbean region, practically fusing the two to emphasise the elegantly bold features of Caribbean beauty,” Lee-Guy told WMN about one of the pillars of the business she founded six years ago.
“The diversity of the various skin tones, personalities and life styles greatly influence the look I achieve,” she said, adding that they are complemented by her personal style that she infuses in every piece. She makes each piece herself and creates for any occasion and age group.
“I am inspired by the shades and hues that are so often taken for granted. The fading yellow into burnt orange of a sunset; the rare sight of the sea having a bluish-green, almost turquoise appearance; the colour cyan, which can be found in gemstones and bronze.”
And, contrary to popular belief, she said men represent the majority of her customers. “We feature a vast array of materials for women’s accessories. And while it may be argued that women may be more impulsive buyers regarding beauty items, the notion that men are the chief gift-giving gender is cemented in history,” she smiled.
“I have a men’s collection: neck and wrist wear,” she said, adding that her customer base is varied. “I create for entertainment artistes, business professionals, fashion affiliates, etc.”
Lee-Guy uses a variety of natural materials such as coconut shells and sea shells, as well a gemstones, beads, haematite, leather, metals and wood. She also does quite a number of hand-painted pieces. “I do ‘make to match’ jewellery pieces – any colour fabric material or to match any outfit using affordable, quality material, as well as ‘ready to present’ presents – complete gift wrapped or gift boxed pieces.”
Operating out of her home in Cumuto, Lee-Guy said she would go to various locations, including business places to do exhibitions.
“People would then place orders or purchase on the spot.” She is in the process of expanding to a brick and mortar space where customers can “walk in and purchase.” The satisfaction of her customers is of utmost importance, so she frequently has to customise pieces to meet their needs.
“There are times when men will contact me for gift jewellery for their wives or moms and I ask questions about the recipients. Is she outgoing or reserved? What is her favourite colour? Things like that so I can make the item more personal.” Likewise, she said, there are women who contact her looking for gift items for their special men. “Sometimes they are looking for a gift item suitable for casual or formal wear, and as usual, we are pleased to meet or surpass expectations.”
The mother of one said she has always been a very creative person. She loves poetry and her training as a children’s drama teacher somehow led her into the song writing arena, where she wrote a number of songs for musician Catherine Williams. She has also written for reggae artiste Andru Anthony and co-manages West-African folk dance and performer Kendra Thomas. The 43-year-old is currently developing her musical skills on the tenor pan and guitar. But it was her coordinating ability and her well-put-together look that landed her the manager and image consultancy positions with Williams, inspiring her to take her jewellery-making skills to another level.
And while she may not have any formal training in jewellery-making, the unassuming Lee Guy chuckled as she told WMN of skills most people, by just looking at her, would never imagine she has. “I am formally trained in the field of electrical. But I can also tile, do woodwork and masonry.”
She said her sense of accessorising, styling and creative resourcefulness is 100 per cent natural, but she is not opposed to getting certified.
“My tools are my innovative thoughts and creative hands, and my passion for what I do fuels my inspirations. I am, however, open to the concept of formal training because I believe it can only enhance our knowledge as we grow professionally.”
She believes that a natural talent should not be taken lightly and should never be allowed to go to waste. In her case, she said, “It’s all about showing appreciation for God’s greatest gifts embedded in nature, embedded in people. Embracing our natural Caribbean uniqueness, representing the vibrancy and creativity to the fullest.”
With the start of the gift-giving season, Exotic Pieces By M is placing special emphasis on helping people give the perfect gift. “When it comes to crafty jewellery gift giving, you select it we perfect it.” During the month of December Lee Guy will be featuring a “stop and shop” display at Big Tymers Mini Mart, Malabar, Arima. “I am currently awaiting confirmation of a couple other venues,” she said.
For more information visit Exotic Pieces By M on Facebook.