I found this really nice jewelry site last year that featured wrap string bracelets that were so beautifully simple as to have most scratching their heads asking “why?”, and me feeling like I needed several. The price dictated I should only choose one and give the others I coveted as Christmas gifts. They came delightfully wrapped in layers of tissue and such, which unwrapped to a canvas pouch bearing the artist’s insignia on the outside. I knew instantly that the bracelets I had just received came from the hands that had actually made them, and then packed them as if almost too precious to part with. I had to meet her.
So, recently I made the trip to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn to visit the studio of Jessica Barensfeld. Three almost floor-to-ceiling longboards shared the floor space with her employees who were sitting around a long wooden table sewing beads and baubles onto knit shapes that would eventually be neck pieces deemed by Jessica as “real labors of love”.
While there may be degrees of lovéd labor, all of Jessica’s work requires a healthy dose of it. She oversees every piece which can be anything from rings, to brass bangles, to braided sufi scarf bracelets…all of which involves a lot of hand work.
Jessica took the creating of jewelry into her own hands after a few years as one of the accessory designers for Banana Republic. And, to the delight of an enthusiastic, international retail clientele, she creates new designs all the time and many of them one of a kind.
There is much to love about Jessica Barensfeld… not the least of which is her honesty. She made sure I left with the knowledge that, as idyllic as this studio setting seemed … chocked with cool equipment and drawers and drawers of what I could only imagine held endless trinket treasures… having your own business was hard work. She also made certain that I left knowing that I shouldn’t give up on surfing after just one day. “Surfing takes a lifetime to learn, and you just need to know what you can handle… anything over four feet… just let someone else take those.” What she didn’t realize is that I left with good advice that I could apply to all those times when my business sometimes comes crashing in like a five-foot wave.