For the past two years, Katie Luong went through something any thirty year-old could relate to; she was bored and restless… and she desperately needed a new life plan. While working as photographer in a hospital Maternity Ward, she captured mothers as they first held their newborn babies. Although the awesome wonder of childbirth delighted her, she also began to feel just a little awkward about charging people for sharing such an intimate experience. Thus life, itself, began to take on a different – more personal – sort of preciousness.
“I had no job and I was completely hopeless,” Luong admits.
And that’s why we love her.
With little idea what she wanted to do with her life, she ‘spent several weeks looking – and feeling – that the world was just this repetitious mechanical place.’ Suddenly burnt out with interesting (yet somehow unfulfilling) jobs in catering and photography, she knew she needed to find herself… somewhere very far away.
Born in Ho Chi Minh City, this meant venturing to her homeland, Vietnam. She would stay in Vietnam as long as it took her to ‘figure out what in the world [she] was supposed to be doing here on this earth.’ She followed that trip with a jaunt to Thailand. It was during her stay in September 2007 that she was blown away with the unique handcrafted things from the mountainous tribal regions of Vietnam, home of the H’mong. She also discovered antique tribal items from the Kuchi tribes of India and, in love with their unique beauty, Luong did what any passionate collector begins to do. She collected. Bringing countless pieces home, she then photographed and admired them.
She also kept in touch with the local dealers.
More importantly, “It was an incredible one and a half months of travel and solitude,” Luong reveals. “Being by myself and just seeing how much of an ant I am in this place called earth was eye-opening.”
Fast forward to 2008.
Back in the US, she gathered her fascinating tribal pieces, did extensive research on the tribal jewelry market and voila!
Tribal Matters was born.
Subsequently, she found herself.
Just what every soul-searching jaunt is meant to do.
Pieces are made with 925 silver, brass, or white metal. Each carry the unique handcrafted exoticism captured by the complex indigenous tribes of the always tantalizing East.
For both stylish men and world-wise women, prices range from a very reasonable $15-$250.
When we say travel light, this is exactly what we mean. Reclaimed natural elements incorporated into a beautifully designed set piece. Jenny Nelson first caught our attention when we saw her interesting work and learned a bit about her life… chock full of equally inspiring experiences. Raised on the coast of Maine, inland from the mystical sounding ‘Mount Desert Island’ (where she currently resides), Nelson was completely surrounded by wild gardens, colorful flowers, and just the sort of woods filled with creatures who sing and buzz.
This idyllic childhood was the perfect setting for outdoor adventures… hiking and kayaking all around her forests, islands and little trees. With a passionate love of nature and words, she went on to study at a prestigious Creative Writing program straight out of high school (because they have such things in those magical Northern lands). In the years that followed, she lived ‘beautifully and randomly, hauling her snowboard around the Alps, teaching skiing and snowboarding, working at small and incredibly fun bakeries, poetry cooperatives, organic farming…’ until she happened upon a very well known jeweler in Northeast Harbor who soon became her mentor. She’s been a full time bench jeweler for her for the past five years, as Nelson says, ‘learning from someone who is a master at what they do.’
Talk about your regular, run-of-the-mill, renaissance Jauntophile.
“Inspired by a childhood spent in gardens and antique shops…’ she beautifully writes, ‘Embarking on countless adventures in the outside world, full of seedlings resting in organic soil, freshly cut wood, and salty ocean wanderings,’ she carries those scented memories into her hand-crafted line.
The only impact her work leaves on the environment? Beauty and substance. Working only with organic materials, found objects, salvaged metals and conflict-free stones, adorning yourself – whether jaunting to the kitchen or the Kasbah – has never felt, or looked, so damn cool. What’s more? You won’t show up to the same party with the same necklace as someone else. She customizes her pieces and each one is unique.
Just like you.
Now buzz off and get some work done already.
Don’t worry, you can come back later.
Pieces range from $65-$325.
Tell her Jaunt Magazine sent you.