When asked to write about my inspiration from Millicent Rogers and how I parlayed that inspiration into my accessory design business, I had the opportunity to read the history behind Ms. Roger’s original purchases and findings which thus became her legacy.
There are moments in time, in a woman’s life, when, surrounded by family or alone in her identity, she comes upon a moment of discovery: a single defining moment when in her rawest moment, she transcends the trappings and definitions around her and finds herself. This moment happened to Millicent Rogers in 1947 on a warm desert night in Taos, New Mexico. Exposed to the beauty and mastery of the turquoise stones of the Native Americans—for that single moment, she left behind her past, her life in NY, and held the stones in her hand—not completely understanding them but fully engaging their beauty.
I humbly relate to that moment. My great grandmother was born in the Mexican port town of Tampico in the state of Tamaulipas. Her stories – the walks around the plaza, long lunches or “sobremesas”, and the breezes of the Gulf of Mexico intermittent with the sounds of the accordions and trumpets are a cultural memory into which I was born.
Therefore, when I had been working for 12 years as an interior designer, specializing in colonial Mexican furnishings, I found myself walking along a side street in Oaxaca, Mexico lost in my thoughts about life in New York. I watched the women hurry down the street in crisply and cleanly white dress shirts combined with extraordinarily colorful tehuana skirts – they looked comfortable and elegant. Their feminine yet rugged clothes became a passion. I began to acquire vintage folkloric Mexican, Guatemalan and Native American costumes and clothes. As a designer, my eye was trained toward the ruggedness of the colonial furnishings and architecture, therefore, perhaps I navigated towards the same rudimentary refinement with handmade fashion and accessories.
Thus was born Polished Coconut- a venture which is dedicated to sourcing exceptional hand crafted accessories. I define the simplicity of the white shirt, the hand woven mochila bag, the feminine and elegant skirts of the tehuana tradition as my personal style. Today, Polished Coconut carries an extensive line of handcrafted products chosen to represent the simplicity and exceptional artisan work of its heritage, tradition and exceptional craftsmanship.
On a final note, the opportunity to work with the artisans—in many cases, women, has allowed me to make relationships and friendships that I could never have imagined. The Wayuu women who weave the mochilas live in the harsh elements of a coastal desert of Colombia but they are as vibrant as the colors of their mochilas—their children smile and the babies are lulled in intricately hand woven hammocks.
Polished Coconut is a unique style which honors and promotes the highest standard of handmade craft, yet, it is also a story similar to that of Millicent Roger’s defining night in 1947—a time when our perspective shifts and we see things with renewed clarity and purpose—to live a life that is simple, in harmony with the Earth and its people, and share this ancestral beauty with others.