Caribbean Splash: Elma Felix’s “Ebijou” Neck Art

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] In “Caribbean Splash: Neck art weaved with the cultural eclat of the West Indies and the modern makings of an urban designer,” Brittany Mattie (SRQ Magazine, September 2020) underlines the artistry of Elma Felix’s “Ebijou” line of woven neckpieces.

Pretty certain Billy Ocean was singing about Elma Felix in his catchy reggae tune of Caribbean Queen. The St. Lucian native, public arts advocate and multipurpose designer stays busy, but always goes with the flow. After graduating from University of Miami’s School of Architecture and Urban Design, Elma went westbound, settling in Sarasota as a trained architect and urban designer—helping to shape the development and design of the region as the principal planner of Sarasota County’s Planning and Development Services. In her travels a few years ago, Elma found herself stricken by an overzealous airport traveler whose interaction lit a fire to accelerate her jewelry-making hobby into a professional side hustle. As Elma was walking through Miami International Airport wearing a braided neckpiece she had been experimenting with funky textiles and metals, someone passed her in stride and did a double take—prompting the beguiled stranger to ask where she had purchased it.

“When I told her that I made it, she asked for my website, which I didn’t have at the time. She really gave me a tongue lashing!” she quips. “When she offered to buy it right off me, I was in disbelief. At the time I couldn’t process what was happening, but I later realized I had something special on my hands.”

Elma continued to experiment with traditional braids, cords and twists—and every redesign got better and better. Ebijou was born. The name is a blend of Elma’s first initial and “bijou,” which translates to “jewelry” in Kwéyol—a fusion of French and Afrikaans spoken on the windward island of St. Lucia. Its handcrafted pieces of island funk bring the neck of the wearer vibrant esprit, rich texture and dimension. And while she channels her inner fashionista, it’s the urbanista within that contributes to initial design inspiration.

Geometric lines of street corners, on buildings, books, colorways in nature, photographs, magazines—Elma’s constantly looking, testing and experimenting. Still, she hasn’t forgotten her roots and St. Lucian heritage. To the imaginative onlooker, Ebijou’s larger-than-life necklaces are emblematic of the dramatically tapered mountains, volcanic beaches, underlying coral reefs and powerful waterfalls pounding in the rainforest. As bold and beautiful as the Pitons, each piece is bound to make a bold statement whether dressed up or dressed down. [. . .] 

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