LUMA-Jewels of Perception is an ethereal jewelry brand. However, they are nothing like your conventional pieces of silver and gold of jewelry- LUMA is the future of jewelry. Through their iridescent and electric series, they tell a vibrant story unlike no other. LUMA was created by Terese Pagh and Courtney McKenna and in the following interview, they unravel the behind the scenes to their captivating brand.
How did you guys come up with the idea of LUMA?
We had been working together sewing and making costumes for about a year before we discovered that we both separately had an obsession with the iridescent acrylic. When we finally realized this, we wanted to use it in some way so we made costume pieces for the band King Holiday who headlined at a larger summer rooftop art event in Brooklyn. Terese was tired of wearing all black so as an experiment we also made small bracelets and crowns which included all the colors of iridescence. Everyone at the event became obsessed with the pieces and kept asking if they could buy them so we realized we needed to make more. Once we began studying the properties of iridescence and its foundations in light and perception, the brand really started to come to life.
What is the significance of the name LUMA- Jewels of Perception?
LUMA means light, based in latin and comes from the word lumens. Jewels of Perception is our current tag line which describes the jewelry. We wanted to know everything we could about iridescence when we realized our obsession with the material, so we studied everything from light waves to psychology and consciousness to understand how our minds perceive color and light.
We chose the word perception because iridescence is really a conceptual idea – it is constantly changing by nature with every different angle the light interacts with it. Just as every person sees different colors at different angles in the jewelry, every person in the world sees the world in a different way based upon their own experience. We wanted to remind people that although we all come from different backgrounds and experiences, it is possible to work together as humans to create something beautiful.
Tell me a little about your newest Flower Collection.
The new floral pieces are all from repurposed acrylic. We liked the idea of creating beautiful flowers that would never die. We also liked that by creating a replica of something so delicately natural from plastic, we would bring plastic back to nature-awareness. We want people to enjoy our designs but also remember how fortunate we are to live in the world we do today. We hand mold each flower piece so they act as colorful mini-infinity mirrors.
What inspired the different designs?
LUMA – Jewels of Perception consists of the Circuit Series and the Parallel Series. The two names are inspired by energy and the way that electricity flows in a circuit. The Circuit Series includes the simple and original hand-molded bracelet design. The Parallel Series is inspired by nature and consists of all different organic shapes such as flowers and fungus. The majority of the pieces are one of a kind and handcrafted, made from fully repurposed plastic and metals.
Where can we buy the products?
The best way is to get in touch with us is by email at email@example.com
I understand that the main material of Luma’s products is repurposed plastic, so can you describe the entire process of making the accessories?
We don’t want to give away all our secrets but we’re happy to share most of them ;). To start we collect acrylic scraps from various fabricators we work with on other large scale projects such as Gabriel Pulecio. We design all of our prototypes in cardboard first and then cut the material by hand or with a laser cutter. We hand sand and polish each piece after they are cut so they are not sharp and then we mold most of the pieces with heat. Some of the material already is iridescent when we receive it and some of it is not, so if not – we add it ourselves.
What is your view on sustainability in fashion? Why did you choose to have a sustainable line?
We believe sustainability in fashion is a great new trend and we hope it sticks! Sustainability is a big word and can mean anything from where you source your materials to how you treat your employees. Ultimately it is about being fully aware of the impact you have on others who are both near or far from you. We want to make the world a better place, so for us it is unacceptable to not have high standards for quality of life. Not only for ourselves but also attempting to consider every piece of the equation, from product ideation to customer service once the product is sold and delivered, and even after that. We have big goals- but we’re doing our best to make it happen.
LUMA didn’t start out as a sustainable fashion line, we were just having fun, but we always have tried to find greater meaning in any work we do. Terese has been working in front and behind the camera for 12 years as an international fashion model and Courtney studied Consumer Science in college before beginning her career in fashion PR. Even though both jobs sound glamorous, there is a lot of corruption in the industry and we both knew we wanted to change that if we were to stay in it. We were never interested in creating yet another jewelry line.
What are some challenges you faced while creating LUMA?
Three years ago after we created the very first LUMA lookbook using all new iridescent plastic, they manufacturer discontinued the material we were committed to. It was upsetting at first but it led us to further exploration of plastics overall, iridescence and consciousness. It made us very determined to try to create our own material and we learned the most from that period in time.
Also, the first time we molded any of the acrylic, we had no clue or concern about safety matters and we used a regular kitchen oven as if we were playing “easy-bake” or something. Miraculously our pieces turned out perfectly but we didn’t realize that we were getting high from the toxic fumes, or that the oven could have caused a massive explosion. Also, cutting and sanding the acrylic creates a very fine dust that gets everywhere and is worse than smoking cigarettes for your lungs. Luckily we had the sense to do this party outside, but now we use super heavy-duty masks and have proper fans, vents and windows as well as proper heating mechanisms.
Experimenting is always fun but health and safety should always come first, so we recommend not to cut corners or forget to do your homework!
Where do you see your brand going in the future? What are some goals you have?
We have had many visions of where we see LUMA in the future. If money and resources were endless we would probably start a school of some sort to help people learn about iridescence, engineering and sustainability. It would be free of course, just like in Denmark, but it would be highly accredited across the globe and all students would receive an extra comfortable, iridescent LUMA baseball cap or sun-visor upon acceptance into the school.
Until then, we are enjoying the journey. We have a few exciting partnerships we have been working on developing that will allow both of us to focus on creating, whereas up until now we have been doing all aspects of everything ourselves. We definitely want to keep selling jewelry but we are taking a more experimental approach to production this year.
We’ve made several prototypes for chandeliers so one goal to get a sample out by the end of the year. We also want to allow ourselves time to play music. The music is mostly just for fun but it’s also a way to showcase the LUMA costume pieces and acts as another platform to share our message.
What message do you hope that LUMA can spread?
Basically, we want to make the world a better place. We hope that people will see LUMA and be inspired as well as empowered to believe that they matter and that they can create positive change. Whether it’s starting to recycle for the first time or joining a human rights campaign – everyone has to start somewhere. #Spreadlight
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