Local jewelry designer hand-crafts beautiful African-inspired pieces.
Built in 1804, Charleston City Market is one of America’s oldest public markets. This recently renovated market is home to nearly 300 local vendors who sell everything from paintings to gourmet foods to traditional sweetgrass baskets.
Sheinata Carn-Hall, owner of Reflections African Jewelry, is one of City Market’s longtime artisan residents. We caught up with the African jewelry designer on her deep roots in Charleston, the creative process and what’s next for her.
Where are you orginially from?
I am a native of Charleston, and my family has been here for generations. My great-grandfather was of West African descent from Benin, and my great-grandmother was Cherokee.
How did you begin your journey as a jewelry maker?
I’ve been here at the market for 16 years, but my jewelry-making started in college. I’d moved off campus and needed money to support myself. I started making jewelry, and the business grew from there.
What inspires your designs?
My work is inspired by African traditions and the ancestors. It’s also inspired by people I come into contact with every day. I design wearable art for people who love life — beautiful people. People who appreciate nature, who want to find that balance in life. An idea will come to me, and I am consumed with bringing it to life. It comes from deep inside my spirit. I realize that it’s a gift from God.
Where do you find materials for your designs?
Most of my beads come from Africa. Some of the beads and recycled materials I’ve used are terra cotta clay beads, Mali wedding beads, Ghana glass, cow bone, African masks, copper and even recycled records. Recently, I made a statement necklace with red tomato beads from Venice, which gave it a pop of color. Many of my beads come from shows. I go to one in the mountains of North Carolina twice a year. I’m planning to take a trip to West Africa this year to get new materials.
What would you like to do next professionally?
I want to grow my brand in 2015. I’m interested in building up the wholesale side of my business. A few years ago, I participated in Nolcha Fashion Week in New York [a leading showcase for independent fashion designers] as an exhibitor. It was very exciting and a wonderful learning experience. I’d like to do it again. I want to get my jewelry in stores and boutiques both locally and all around the country. That’s my goal.