Tell me a little about yourself…
My name is Vanessa Long. I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. I moved to Miami in 2007 to pursue my dreams. I attended and graduated from The Art Institute of Miami, with a major in fashion design. Although I went to college for fashion, my background is in art. I majored in visual arts in both middle and high school. This being said, I have an immense passion for art, and it is reflected in everything that I take apart in. Another area I am passionate about is learning about various cultures. It fascinates and excites me so much to learn about the different histories, cultural customs, traditional costumes, amongst other things, about various cultures. I even plan on travelling the world to learn up close about the various cultures that interest me. I said all of that to say that, all of my passions (art, fashion and culture) are what play a major role in the design process of my jewelry line. My goal is to have a specific culture influence each collection of jewelry that I create. The finishing touch for every piece that I create is the fact that I want every woman that wears my pieces to feel like a queen. I want her to feel regal and special.
How’d you get started, or what prompted you to begin crafting in your genre?
What made me decide to start my jewelry line is the fact that a lot of what I found in stores kind of blended together and didn’t really have much of a unique personality of its own. I wanted to wear and create jewelry that stood out and was special. My vision for my customers is an extension of my own personal goal, which is to shine like a star when I enter a room.
Where can we check out and buy your work?
I believe what sets me apart from other lines is both my perspective and my combination of influences. Also what sets me apart is my goals for the line, which is the fact that I, not only am and will be including my own cultural influence (African), but will also be including different cultures from around the world. I have not seen any culturally inspired jewelry lines that include more than one cultural influence.
What do you get out of being an artist or crafter?
What I get out of being a crafter is the joy of wearing things that I created. The pride that comes from wearing things that you know no one else in the world has; and the glee of sharing that experience with my customers.
What inspires you to create the art you do? Where do you get your inspiration?
What drives me to create my jewelry is the desire to wear unique pieces, and also the desire to share that experience with others.
What’s the weirdest or most astonishing and controversial craft or artwork that you have ever created and how so or why?
Well the most talked about piece that I have is the Sendoa Ankle Length Necklace. It’s not controversial, but it is a show stopper. Every time I wear it out I get stopped by a bunch of people to either take a picture or them asking information about the line.
What do others seem to love about your art?
From my feedback, what I see that people like the best about my jewelry line is the fact that I create pieces that give a unique and modern twist to my jewelry. On my Konani Bracelet, I got the following review: “Where did you get that bracelet?” “I like your bracelet!” “That’s a nice bracelet!” Are some of the questions and compliments I received when I wore this unique piece. “Thank you for your talent and creativity.”
What is your advice to fellow crafters and artists?
The advice that I would give to other crafters is to do what you are passionate about. The reason I say that, is because, in the beginning, it’s a journey to build clientele and to get your name out there. However, if you’re doing something that you are passionate about and that makes you happy, you will do it regardless of anything, if you are making money at the time or not. Also, learn how to talk about yourself and your company. I say that because not everyone is a natural public speaker, myself included. It’s not always easy to talk about your company, no matter how much you love it. Another huge thing is to RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! There are a lot of awesome tips that I have learned from doing research of jewelry forums, blogs, Pinterest, business websites and much more.
How would you describe your style, or form of artistry?
I would describe my personal style as Afrocentric, neo soul and eclectic. My design style is cultural, eclectic, and (hopefully) universal.
Do you have any future plans for your artwork or crafts?
My future plans for SelahZuri are:
- To build a global brand and clientele
- To have my jewelry used in local magazines, national magazines as well as top fashion magazine editorials
- To create pieces that women will cherish forever.
- To sell my jewelry at both minor and major global fashion weeks.
How long have you been an artist or crafter? When did you first discover your artistic ability?
I have been a general crafter since I was young. I’ve always had my hand in different things all my life. I have been painting and drawing since I was about 7. I have been sewing and sketching since 10th grade (so about 8 years). I was self-taught, when it comes to fashion sketching and sewing. I hand sewed initially until around college time. My mother taught me how to sew on a home machine 2 weeks before I went off to college. I learned how to use the industrial machine in school. When it comes to jewelry, I am self-taught. I have been making jewelry for about 2-3 years. The funny thing is, I wasn’t the one who discovered my artistic abilities; my father was. When I was younger, my cousin and I used to get notebook paper and trace the picture from coloring books and color those. We did that so that the coloring book would last longer. When we would trace the pictures, I wouldn’t just sloppily trace the pictures on the page. I would take my time and trace the pictures as carefully and precisely as possible. This stood out to my father because he saw my precision as something special. He was the one who got me started. Both he and my mother have always been my biggest cheerleaders and support. My father always says “I never pick what my kids do, but whatever they choose to do, I make them finish it”. I have always appreciated this attitude from my parents. It has helped to get me both where I am today, as well as where I will be going in the future.