Many moons ago, I started my first business: a Wearable Art Accessory line called Aoede’s Hands (pronounced A-YO-DEES).
Aoede’s Hands is a handmade Wearable Art line specializing in making African fabric Kanzashi-inspired flower accessories. It blends traditional Japanese fabric folding techniques with vibrant patterns and colors of African fabric commonly used for outfits. These pieces are not just trendy: they also classy and elegant and will enhance many outfits in your wardrobe.
These wearable art pieces are coated with Eco-Friendly Fabric Hardener to preserve their integrity and shape over the years. Additionally, they are extremely lightweight, so you won’t have to compromise the health of your ears.
But before becoming the line it is today, there were many trials and errors, and even a time during the Pandemic when I had completely given up and closed shop.
But let’s start at the beginning of my journey.
How I started my Jewelry Line
It had never occurred to me that I could make handmade jewelry, until my friend Hiroko who was going to FIT at the time gifted me with a pair of gold leather earrings she had made in class. After inquiring further, I decided that I too would be making some for myself. After all, as a full-time student living in Brooklyn NY, and with rent and other responsibilities to take care of, I could not afford the fancy things I had my eyes on… After doing some online research I stumbled upon these Kanzashi flowers – which are “hair ornaments used in traditional Japanese hairstyles”. I absolutely loved it and thought they were absolutely stunning. One day I decided to head to the library by my house, by Grand Army Plaza and checked out some crafts books for review.
At the time (2010), Youtube was still relatively new, so I was mainly surfing the web and researching blog posts on crafting. One beautiful afternoon, I jumped on the 2 train and headed to midtown manhattan to the fashion district so I could visit and grab some fabric and jewelry findings. Of course, I first started with Mood, but as I was walking on 35th street between 7th and 8th and found a Senegalese vendor who had an amazing section of African fabric. At that moment, I had a revelation: I should use African fabric to honor my African roots!
From Experimenting to Mastering a Sewing Technique
I went home and started experimenting with fabric and shapes. There were different styles that I thought would theoretically look good, so I had to do it. I quickly encountered my first challenge: I noticed that after a while the earrings would lose their shape. I had to be creative: Why not use hair spray? If it could keep your hair stiff, so it could keep cotton stiff too! I picked a small extra hold spray bottle to try and went home: it worked and I was able to finally get some decent pairs of earrings. That is how I created my first pair of earrings. Later I would find an eco-friendly fabric hardener at a sculpting store in New York, that I still use to this day.
How I Started a Small Business Selling Wearable Art
Whenever I wore my creations people in the street would compliment me and once someone asked me where they could purchase them. That’s when I started to think about making some more and starting to see them to people who asked including my friends. I had a few sale events at my house and then, I started to participate in a few local markets. Every time I would travel to Europe, I would bring some to sell to friends there so I could get some cash to use on my vacations. Finally, I started an online store on this new website for handmade stuff called Etsy.
After a while, I created a small sole proprietorship that I named Aoede’s (the greek muse of music – I was studying Jazz performance at the time).
Aoede’s Hands: A Unique Look
I have to admit, some people tried to imitate and copycat over the years, but I am proud to say that you will not see African Wax Fabric featured so that way anywhere else. I was able to develop beautiful work and you’ll be amazed by the craftsmanship and quality of these handmade accessories. But do not take my word for it:
*note these earrings are size extra small and I make these on demand*
Aoede’s Hands Today
Before moving to Florida a couple years ago, I sold all I had left at wholesale prices and closed the business. A few months ago, a friend of mine encouraged me to get back at it… so I did.
I am back at handcrafting beautiful Kanzashi flowers with love, to cater to women and men who have unique looks and bold personalities.
If you like vibrant colors and African Batik, you will be sure to find something you like here!
*I used to make very large earrings as you can see on previous pictures, but not I mainly create these sizes (although occasionally I make larger size on demand)
It’s been a long and interesting journey and I am grateful to everyone that has ever purchased anything from me. I had taken a break anything for a while and this year a friend of mine encouraged me to start over again a few months ago.
Maybe you have a friend’s birthday coming up or just feel like treating yourself for the holidays, please check my online store! If you are in the Fort Lauderdale area you also can find them at the Sistrunk Kollective inside the Sistrunk Food Hall.
Right now, to celebrate the end of 2022, I am having an Online Sale of 15% OFF all pairs of earrings. Free domestic shipping!
*Note that the extra large earrings are made on demand*