Former nurse makes jewellery inspired by nature

Last year, Yasanyah El’s work was featured in three art exhibitions: The Art Gallery Tobago; African Film Trinidad and Tobago; and Studio Joli. - Photo by Angelo Marcelle
Last year, Yasanyah El’s work was featured in three art exhibitions: The Art Gallery Tobago; African Film Trinidad and Tobago; and Studio Joli. - Photo by Angelo Marcelle

HOW OFTEN does one walk away from a secure, promising career to follow one’s passion?

Yasanyah El, 33, believes her decision to quit nursing and become a jewellery designer was divinely inspired.

Eight years ago, while completing her degree at the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT), El said she embarked on a journey of self-discovery that literally changed her life.

“I was at that point in my life where I was just getting into holistic activities such as yoga, shiatsu and reiki. I was at a point where I wanted to find out more about myself, where I came from, who I am and who I am supposed to be,” she told WMN.

El said she spent a lot of time reading, holding conversations with like-minded people and even more time in nature, just observing.

During that period, she developed an appreciation for plants.

“Nature motivated me to observe plants in a way I never did before, a part of the natural make up, the stages in which plants grew was so fascinating to me. That was how I comprehended the process of birth after death and now if you look at my designs you will find a lot of spiral work which symbolises Rebirth.

By the time she graduated from COSTAATT in 2017, she was already “head deep in love” working with wires, crystals and shells.

“I was determined to use my intuition to curate spiritual adornments that not only looked pretty but were meaningful and healing to women. To be honest, I used my knowledge of nursing and applied that manifestation to my talismans (objects with inscriptions that are thought to bring good luck).”

El, who grew up in east Trinidad, is now a full-fledged jewellery entrepreneur and has no regrets about her decision to quit nursing.

“Business has been a beautiful journey from start to present. I have been an artisan for seven and a half years and it has been a real journey in growth and development.”

She started off making only loc hair accessories, and at the time, wanted to be the top loc hair accessory provider.

“I was able to connect with a couple hairdressers and started supplying them with the accessories and this had me busy. But with anything in life we must grow and my growth happened in a few months.”

El gradually moved away from loc accessories.

An Yasanyah El creation. - Photo by Angelo Marcelle

“I wanted to adorn women not only with their hair items but with earrings, rings and anything that symbolises Venus energy.”

Venus is recognised as the planet of love, beauty and pleasure.

Saying her spiritual journey was pushing her to do more, El said she literally sat down and gave herself a motivational speech “which was needed because I did not know how to start to make an earring.

“After my talk, I picked up my tools and my wire and I simply made an earring, then a ring, then a choker and I could not stop.”

She resolved then that “everything we do in this physical realm has lessons we must learn and we are offered opportunities for growth and expansion.”

In the period 2016-2017, El was selected to be part of Y Gallery Art exhibition but she declined.

“My confidence at the time did not allow me to think I was ready to be featured in an art gallery.”

But her first year in business, she was selected by Fashion TT to showcase her talismans before an international panel. The following year, El was part of the O2N Fashion Show hosted by former beauty queen Nicole Dyer-Griffith.

In 2019, the designer was given the chance to speak to women about her accessories at an event hosted by Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon. That same year, she also established a clientele in Grenada, where her jewellery was sold out of a shop in Grand Anse.

Last year, El’s work was featured in three art exhibitions: The Art Gallery Tobago; African Film Trinidad and Tobago; and Studio Joli.

She operates from her home studio. But she also sells her merchandise at four locations: Junckollage Gypsy Caravan, Long Circular Road; Bella Dynamite Accessories, Chaguanas; Things Natural, Crown Point, Tobago; and Iya Aje Sacred Store, Betsy’s Hope, Tobago. Customers can also get her items online via Instagram.

El, who specialises in wire accessories, said her clientele is mainly women, “99.99 per cent to be honest.

Yasanyah El believes her decision to quit nursing and become a jewellery designer was divinely inspired. - Photo by Angelo Marcelle

“This is because my adornments are curated with women in mind. As women, we are known to have days where we literally don’t have that confidence to feel beautiful.

“What I have notice with my talismans, because I create with intention, whenever someone sees my pieces they instantly connect with it. I have had women express how beautiful they feel while wearing these talismans or by even looking at it they can tell it was made with the intent.”

She said rings are her favourite creation.

“I love making rings. Growing up, I was always harassed about my big hands and long fingers and, I won’t lie, it did hurt as a young girl, thinking I have ugly hands. But rings really changed my life, I think. My signature piece, as of recently, are my Kairi and Alubera earrings.”

El said she gets her inspiration from the “mysteries of Mother Nature.

“One example of this would be my banana leaf earrings, which symbolises the interaction between the earth and wind. As a result, the leaves begin to separate creating a beautiful personality for each leaf.”

Her rebirth earrings and rings, she said, are another example.

“If we look carefully in nature we see how each plant starts off with a spiral and this spiral grows into such a beautiful plant/tree. It’s simply breathtaking to be aware of this change as we, too, spiral through life growing and changing every day. All of talismans have a meaning and I love explaining it to people.”

As much as she loved nursing and caring for the sick, El said she felt as though she was called to heal people in a different, holistic way.

“Somehow the universe made it that I help do this using metals and pure intention. That’s the best way I can say it.”

She said while making her jewellery, she had no intention of leaving nursing.

“It honestly was never a thought. It literally just happened the way the ancestors wanted it to be aligned and I never once questioned it because deep inside I already knew what was meant to be would be.”

El said when she decided to quit nursing she got a lot of support from people who saw her potential. But some, including family members, had misgivings about the idea.

“You know your family will tell you things like “it’s just a hobby, you need to get a job and keep this as a back-up.”

She said that mindset pushed her create even more talismans.

“What really encouraged me and continues to encourage me is the way people react to them. People are really blown away when they see them and when they try it or even buy it, it is like a sense of joy and it raises their self-confidence every time. I am so grateful for that.”

One of the pieces made by Yasanyeh El. - Photo by Angelo Marcelle

El said it was not difficult to accept what she believes she was called to do.

She advised up and coming jewelry designers to not limit themselves, “whether it is through self-doubt, comments made by others or just society on a whole.”

El added, “Most times we have creative people coming back into this realm with a different view on life and they can only express themselves through creative mediums. Then we find the ones who try to suppress the aura of these beings. Take my advice, Do not listen to them. Express yourself but never suppress yourself based on what others may say.”

Her own journey, she said, is a case in point.

“Growing up, I never thought I would been where I am today."

Yasanyah said as a girl, she enjoyed making clothes for her dolls with her tiny sewing machine and playing doll house. But she also had the best time climbing fruit trees and playing rough games with her siblings and cousins.

“I was very ‘tomboyish’ but this didn’t stop my mom from dressing me up especially for those Easter bonnets that I would never forget.”

She said during adolescence she began to embrace her feminine energy but was not sure how to express it in the “right way.”

“I know for sure I was not on the path I needed to be on. All my life lessons, challenges, trauma and interactions with people really played a major role in who I grew up to be and I am forever grateful."


"Former nurse makes jewellery inspired by nature"

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