Athena Argyrakis has taken her passion for fashion and knack for shoe design and turned it into an online accessories label called Athena A. Her self-designed jewellery is made from brass, aluminium and ankole-watusi cattle horn by a handful of local craftsmen, and for orders over R750, you’ll receive a complimentary jewellery bag and free delivery. We chatted to the artist about her new jewellery line.
What motivated the move to jewellery?
I remember having an absolute love for fashion from early on. Growing up, my favourite day of the year at school was Spring Day where we got the chance to shed our everyday uniforms and wear whatever we wanted. This event required my mom and I to go shopping for a new outfit which, of course, included a pair of shoes and all the accessories to match. Fast forward a few years later – after studying and having established myself as an award-winning film editor – I decided, at the age of 30, to learn about shoe design in Milan, Italy.
I was well on the way to fulfilling my dream of becoming a designer and starting my own brand when I received the news that I had cancer. When you are faced with adversity, you can either sit down and let it consume you, or you can use every tool and belief you have to turn it all around. I thought I would never have the energy to create anything again. But, five years later, I was walking in a market where I stumbled on the most beautiful pieces of jewellery. That’s were I met Stephen, the artisan behind these beautiful pieces, who is able to take all my designs and bring them to life. And Athena A was born.
And your choice of your materials? Why ankol-watusi cattle horn?
Used for centuries for milk and meat, ankole cows are indigenous to East Africa. Yet, once they are slaughtered, their striking long horns are usually discarded. Typically in Africa, waste is burnt, which is not environmentally friendly. So, why not collect the horns and transform them into something beautiful? I absolutely love that every horn is unique in its colouring, making each piece different from the rest. You will never find anyone else with the same necklace or cuff.
What inspires your jewellery?
The brand, Athena A, and all of the pieces, are named after Greek and Roman goddesses. So, I look a lot to Greek and Roman mythology, as I believe that all women are goddesses and whatever they wear should enhance this feeling of strength and beauty. I’m also inspired by architecture, fashion and designer furniture, as well as meditation and travel. I love this quote by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love: ‘One of the oldest and most generous tricks that the universe plays on human beings is to bury strange jewels within us all, and then stand back and see if we can ever find them’.
Describe Athena A in three words.
Bold, feminine, strong.
Who is your ideal client?
When the Athena A goddess walks into a room, she is seen. Not afraid to stand out from the crowd, she makes a statement. However it’s not only her outer appearance that exudes beauty and confidence; it’s an inner beauty of quiet stillness that makes you want to discover more about this exotic creature.
What is your favourite piece of jewellery and why?
My favourite piece is always my latest design… until the next creation pops into my head. I guess it’s also like the way you love your children, each one is so uniquely different and you love them for different reasons.
What are your plans for the future?
The Athena A range will diversify to include handbags and shoes. In addition to being available online, we will also feature in some of your favourite stores. Watch this space.
Visit brandathenaa.co.za for more details.