If you love handcrafted jewelry, visiting Faith and Hope Rivers of MoaZen Jewelry & Accessories (512 E. 15th St.; www.moazenjewelry.com) will prove to be a cultural lesson. These twin sisters have been in business since 2006. Their venture started with a catalog, and in 2009, it ballooned into an actual brick-and-mortar location. Unlike many other designers, Faith and Hope are doing something different — they showcase their fashion sense and style but also they serve, by my own assessment, as mini teachers. The Charleston, S.C., natives have been featured in national publications and have clients as far away as Norway.
Creative Loafing: What's the inspiration behind MoaZen jewelry?
Hope: We are interested in culture overall. We thought it would be interesting for us to design around a different theme every couple of months because it kept the collection fresh and the customers educated about different cultures.
Do you wear a lot of your own jewelry pieces?
Hope: I think we don't wear enough of our own stuff sometimes, but I love the leaf earrings — they are my staple. They are real leaves, lacquered, and I have them in three different colors. We kinda attach ourselves to particulate pieces that we've made and they become special to us.
How do you decide what to make?
Faith: Generally what we do is talk about the culture we plan to highlight. We then analyze the culture like what are they doing with their holidays, or festivals or customs. We even design around their architecture sometimes. We get our materials from a lot of different places. Whoever has the things we like that's different, that's what we go for. We've actually even had customers come into our store and donate things to us.
Hope: We never make the same thing twice. Faith will sketch sometimes or we'll just sit down in front of the materials and see what happens.
Why is educating people on cultural difference so important to you?
Faith: Our pet peeve is people not knowing enough about other cultures. It allows them to create crazy and wild stereotypes and views of how other people are because of where they come from. We try to teach people as they come in our store to get rid of the stereotypes.
Living and working in Charlotte, what has been your experience having your boutique in Area 15 in Noda?
Faith: We have many different people come in. We've had people from Russia visit the store. Not only did they learn about us, but we learned about them as well. We get that a lot in this area.
How would you describe your personal style?
Faith: Fashion to me is being able to express what you're feeling and how you're feeling. Whether that be from the colors of your shoes, how big your earrings are or how funky your jeans are. It's about how you feel at that moment. It's expressing yourself and your moods.
Hope: Fashion to me is a form of self-expression. It's almost your way of speaking before you even open your mouth. People can sometimes analyze or get a feel of who you are through fashion.