COURTESY OF ME & RO
Limited edition 18K turquoise beaded chain necklaces from Me & Ro are $2,840 and $3,045, depending on the size of the stones.
Designer inspired by Hawaii's beauty
Eagle-eyed fashion observers couldn't help but notice the Geisha Collection necklace and other Me & Ro jewelry adorning Anne Hathaway's character in "The Devil Wears Prada," but designer Robin Renzi isn't letting Hollywood go to her head.
Although Renzi created original hair ornaments for "Memoirs of a Geisha," and though her Me & Ro jewelry was worn by Julia Roberts in "Notting Hill" and "The Mexican," she looks at film work as a fleeting phenomenon over which she has little control. She prefers talking about the daily excitement of the creative process, sometimes involving little more than a walk on the beach.
ME & RO TRUNK SHOW
Time: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Place: Neiman Marcus, Designer Jewelry, first floor
Also: Meet designer Robin Renzi at a cocktail reception, 4 to 7 p.m. tomorrow.
Speaking on the phone from her New York office before jetting to Hawaii, she doesn't pause for a breath as she describes one such walk.
"I found a sea horse on the beach on Long Island -- actually, my husband found it -- on Easter Sunday, and it was so beautiful to me because there it was on the East Coast in April, when it shouldn't even have been there."
The sea horse inspired a silver necklace -- that will be among the pieces -- set with flat diamonds and white opals from Brazil, turquoise and rutilated, or striated, quartz -- she'll show tomorrow and Saturday at a Neiman Marcus trunk show.
By then the fast-talking New Yorker might have slowed her pace to Hawaiian time. She arrives on Oahu after a week-long retreat on the Big Island as a guest of the Joyful Heart Foundation, a charity started by her friend, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" star Mariska Hargitay, to help survivors of sexual assault heal mind, body and spirit.
Renzi designed two "Fearlessness" pendants for Joyful Heart, sales of which benefit the organization, and she has also created designs as fundraisers for groups such as the Tibet Fund, Step Up Women's Network, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Doctors of the World and the Robin Hood Relief Fund to assist victims and families of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Renzi also donates 1 percent of Me & Ro profits every year to charities, out of her belief that businesses are an extension of the people behind them.
While in Hawaii, Renzi is looking forward to catching up on her reading, including rereading favorite books such as Maurice Blanchot's "Thomas the Obscure" and the alternative business book "Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman," by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard. Chouinard sought to build a business with heart and soul, but that did not spare him from making hard decisions during a market downturn.
COURTESY OF ME & RO
This 18K elephant pendant was inspired by a necklace designer Robin Renzi wore in her teens. It's $1,020.
"I'm a jewelry designer, not a business person, and Chouinard really puts it in perspective because he's so much further along and I have so much to learn, hello. It just reaffirms what I'm doing, because when you're in the middle of something, it's really hard to keep sight of the big picture."
There's no question Me & Ro was founded as a feel-good hippie-ish sort of company in Renzi's free-flowing, nature-loving image. Her delicate jewelry, even in her teens, was influenced by Eastern and Asian philosophy, imagery and adornment.
"Some people get it and some people don't," she said, putting a Sally Field Oscar-winning spin on her excitement about coming to Hawaii -- where jewelry buyers do get it. "They like me, I like them, it's all good!"
Renzi has spent a lot of time shopping for stones in India and Brazil, and finds in their respective cultures something similar to Hawaii.
"Traveling in different cultures is so important. I love to be around people who still make things, because I like working with my hands. The way they dress themselves and adorn themselves is a reflection of their culture, and I think people in Hawaii relate to that.
"It's a strong culture that tends to be influenced by nature. There's a lot of freedom in nature. You don't have to fix it or do anything to it," she said. "In Hawaii it's very natural to pick up a shell on the beach and string it up and wear it; it's taking that rough, natural beauty, finding something you like and wanting to put it on your body. In New York you've got to go shopping for it."