I met Kristie Stephenson at the first Caribbean Yoga Conference, held in Montego Bay Jamaica a few years ago. Kristie was a vendor, selling gorgeous strings mala beads (necklaces used for meditation). I bought a set of beads, but it wasn’t until the Conference the following year that I really got to know Kristie. Sitting on the beach into the early hours of the day, I learned part of Kristie Stephenson’s story, which is why I feature her in @Interviews with Incredible Women.
Kristie is a visual and graphic artist who spends her time between Jamaica and Florida. She is involved in design, performance art, and her business @Story & Myth. Please take a moment to visit https://www.facebook.com/storyandmyth and support Jamaican artisans by connecting with this awesome community.
Q: I’m in love with your malas and Story & Myth. Can you tell me the story (or the myth) of your journey? What’s coming down the horizon?
KS: Story and Myth came about when I started researching sacred feminine archetypes, these stories or myths were from several different countries or civilizations. Depending on what I was going through at the time, I often found comfort in a story from another culture when my own culture did not provided any. I would share these female archetypes at workshops with underserved young women when I lived in Florida. I created a template drawing with a central female figure which you could trace or draw on and you had choices as she had several arm positions from which to choose, she had legs or you could give her a fish tail or wings or both. From this drawing I developed more drawings and then switched mediums to metal. So the female archetypes became jewelry charms and pendants.
When I was back in Jamaica I made my first mala (necklace) out of the seeds of the Job’s tears plant, the seeds grow on an ornamental grass. A mala (a sanskrit word meaning garland) is a set of prayer beads, traditionally used to focus awareness during meditation. Almost every culture has a set of prayer beads, the Arabs, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists. So the first one I made consisted of 108 beads and the 109th bead was my scared feminine archetype pendant. I wore them to this beautiful sanctuary of a yoga studio in Kingston called Shakti, and shortly after they were available for sale at the studio gift shop, they were at the Caribbean Yoga Conference and were the VIP gifts for the international presenters, all of whom were yoga rockstars unbeknownst to me.
The beads I started referring to them as blessing beads as all pieces are made with thought and intent, meant to guide, bless and protect the wearer. I then started adding semi-precious gemstones to the blessing beads, each gemstone also having some healing property of its own. I consider the pieces sacred, spiritual jewelry. Down the horizon I see international trade shows and yoga conferences, mala manifesting yoga retreats where participants use the act of beading and making their own mala as a real tool for manifesting the things they want to attract into their lives. I also see the line of bracelets and malas that we make here in Jamaica by a small community of artisans available worldwide, yoga studios, conscious boutiques, hotel gift shops etc.
Q: What is your inspiration?
KS: My inspiration is finding beauty in that thing that everyone will walk by and not see the potential that I see, that thing such as the Job’s tears seed, mother natures perfect bead, which grows wild here on an ornamental grass on this beautiful healing island. The tear shaped bead is named after Job in the bible a man who had everything, lost it all and in the middle of his storm when things were really bad he did not give up, but kept his faith and he was eventually blessed with double.
Q: What is something that everyone should know?
KS: That we can all start to become more resourceful, there is enough, we can share our knowledge, resources. That we can all look with new eyes at things and opportunities around us that we are not seeing, sometimes it takes leaving for a while to return home again and see with new eyes.