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Exclusive Interview with Theresa Harnois

FashionMag42 proudly presents jewellery designer from Phoenix Arizona – Theresa Harnois & Hart Designs

How did you come to realize your talent?

Although I have been locally recognized for my jewellery designs for many years, it was the pain from a series of life changing, personal losses that unleashed the process by which I create my present day wearable art collections. The loss of my mother, followed by a divorce and then the end of a very unique and special friendship extinguished the life I once knew along with the future I aspired to have. I didn’t realize it at the time, however, my first piece came to life as I sat alone in a make-shift work space with my materials, feeling alone and unsure of where my life was headed. Through tears I began manipulating pieces of wire and gemstones haphazardly. Then at some point the materials seemed to “speak” to me… so I listened and followed their lead. The moment was intense and truly cathartic as I got lost (or “found” as it turns out) in the flow of creativity.

We’d love to know about your design process, from choosing materials to design. How do you go about creating a new piece?

Whether I am creating designs for a particular photo-shoot/fashion show or a commissioned piece, there is a central theme of connectivity that exists throughout the whole process. It is important that I first to connect and develop a relationship with the client who has commissioned the work in order to guide my design. I typically start with a detailed conversation so that I am able to identify style, personality, purpose and concept. From there I connect with and decide on the materials I plan to use.  Next, I set up my work space and make sure everything I need is organized and readily available. Finally, I turn on some tunes and let the design begin to emerge.

Which three pieces are your signature items?

My three signature pieces were created specifically for a fashion show that I did in London several years ago. Since then, all three designs have donned many other runways and can be found in numerous publications. Each one is the perfect mix of art and fashion and I feel very fortunate as they continue to be highly sought after. Over the years, many people have offered to buy them, however, I have yet to find the willingness to let any of them go.

What was the first piece of jewellery you ever made? How have your designs evolved?

The first piece I made was in that moment of catharsis that I referenced previously. I manipulated pieces of gold wire with pearls, crystals and other gemstones and continued until I created what turned out to be my first pendant. I proudly wear my “first born” to this day. I rarely sketch my designs as I find it more enjoyable to just lean into the creative process and let things unfold naturally. That being said, today my designs  are definitely created with intention and with much more attention to detail. I am careful to use materials that compliment each other and design pieces that are high impact and remain timeless while aligning with client wishes and current fashion trends.

What is your career highlight so far?

It is not easy to pinpoint one career highlight. I am extremely grateful to have been given this gift along with the opportunity to intertwine friends and family into my career and passion. This incredible journey has been filled with love, support and new found creative expression as well as new friendships. My work has brought joy and healing to my life and has also afforded me the luxury of giving back to my community.

Special thanks to my sister Michele Harnois, the author of my words and Juan Loza of Loza Photography for these beautiful images. Models: Jay Jordan and Alexandra Gooding, assistants Trisha Shaw and Lexis Heckman.

PHOTO credits@Loza Photography and Jon Holston of Luzern Designs

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