She's Black Girl Fly Feature: TNEMNRODA
It is an absolute pleasure when you meet a woman who has built her own empire. We met Samantha at an event last year and we were immediately drawn to her table. It was adorned with a variety of unique handmade accessories. In addition to her creativity she had a beaming personality. In the few minutes we met Samantha I could tell she was Black Girl Fly. Get to know Samantha and check out her interview below!
Black Girl Fly Magazine: Samantha, please tell our readers where you are from and where you reside now?
Samantha: I am from the Bronx and currently reside in the Bronx.
BGF: Tell our readers about your accessory line, TNEMNRODA.
Samantha: TNEMNRODA is an accessories line of embellished sunglasses and jewelry, specifically hand bracelets, midi rings and amulet bracelets bearing evil eyes and saints. I believe in the power of positive thinking as a way to affect change in your life and as a reinforcement, physical things that represent luck and protection. I love to create designs that represent happiness and spiritual protection.
BGF: What inspired you to create TNEMNRODA? What does the name mean?
Samantha: TNEMNRODA was originally my idea for an art exhibit on my line and the history of adornment when my line was called Odd & Even NYC until 2011. I reflected back to the journal that I wrote the idea down in a year later and loved it for the name of my line instead.
TNEMNRODA is adornment spelled backwards and is pronounced nem-row-da.
BGF:You transitioned from a career in editorial writing to jewelry design and entrepreneurship. What skills or lessons from your previous career did you take with you in that transition?
Samantha: Trend forecasting has always been key in my fashion writing and reporting and it’s been key in remaining ahead of the curve and innovative with my line as well.
BGF:What influences have you taken from your Caribbean background?
Samantha: Growing up in a Jamaican household, jewelry was as inherent to our wardrobe as pants. When I finally explored jewelry design, it was natural for me to dream up designs and face the craft confidently as I was already so comfortable with wearing it, not as an occasional accessory but almost as a necessity.
BGF: As a jewelry designer and entrepreneur, what is a typical workday like for you?
Samantha: My work day varies upon the projects or meetings I have lined up. If I have a pop up shop coming up, a work day may consist of going into the city to buy materials for new and classic items, dropping or picking pieces up from my platers and going back to my home studio to design. Or I may have a meeting with my business consultant.
BGF: Did you have any Black women as mentors in building your company? What were their most memorable lessons?
Samantha: I wish I had a mentor. That would have really helped in a lot of the doubts I had early on and with steering me in the right direction of steps to take to advance in my business. I had to really put the battery inmy own back and take leaps on my own faith in my line. One of the biggest lessons that I learned in hindsight is that you’re never too young for your dream. I started my line when I was just 22 years old and I didn’t take steps to present it to buyers or shoot a lookbook until I was 26years old. By that time I had been working professionally with a jewelry company and learned a lot about the industry, but age played a factor in my confidence. I felt older, more mature and confident to be taken seriously with my experience. I say don’t wait for experience or age. If you have the idea and the concept and evenmore, the product go full out—put it out there. Talk to yourself in the mirror and say you are good enough and what you’re working on is worth recognition and worth sharing with the world.
BGF: What advice would you give to Black women or girls wanting to go into jewelry design business ownership?
Samantha: I would say that it is important to be trained in jewelry design. So many people claim to be jewelry designers by buying and reselling pieces or having pieces designed for them. If you want to be a jewelry designer, put the work in whether you teach yourself by watching instructionals on youtube and practicing with your tools at home or whether you take classes. I took a soldering class at FIT and am certified in CAD for jewelry by GIA. Edcation is so powerful in building your confidence and stakein the industry, but it takes times. Have patience to hone your craft.
BGF: What would you say is key for Black women building a brand in the 21st century?
Samantha: In the 21st Century, the black woman is so many different things. We can no longer be easily categorized or pigeonheld into speacific interests or what we look like physically. The black woman is a fitness fanatic, or glam goddess with kim kardashian west style or a thirfty maven or natural hair advocate. It’s super important to know who exactly your audience is and speak directly to them. Knowing your audience will shape your brand image and give you a voice to deliver your message.
BGF:What makes your brand unique and fly?
Samantha: My brand is orginal and comes from a place of love. I get excited about pieces because they are beautiful and meaningful. It’s about designing what I want to see in the world and knowing there’s a woman out there who will understand it and appreciate it. Rather than it being about money or competition. In that, it’s unique and fly.
BGF: Who is your ideal customer?
Samantha: My ideal customer is a colorful and happy individual. She loves fashion, knows designers and labels, vintage shops as well but doesn’t take fashion too seriously. She knows the rules enough to break them artfully.
BGF: What’s next for TNEMNRODA?
Samantha: I am working on building relationships with accounts and developing an app!
BGF:Who is currently your favorite style inspiration?
Samantha: Personal style wise is Kim Kardashian West. Jewelry design wise is more of a concept inspiration which is a mix that I would call power puff punk. Looks like a girl with two high buns, long, tricked out nails, a sparkly bindi, tight high waisted jeans a fuzzy cropped sweater and sleek sandal heels. Refined and restrained in some parts, fantastical in some parts and a lil 90’s in other parts.
BGF: What makes you fly?
Samantha: What doesn’t make me fly?! Hahah! My attributes and my flaws make me fly—because I am creative, kind and lovable, fashionable and independent in perspective while being educated makes me fly. I am emotional and sometimes quirky and temperamental—that makes me fly too!
BGF:Why are Black girls fly?
Samantha: Black girls are fly because we are inherently so cultured. Really no matter where we are from, we have interesting stories, compound that with a girl who is also fashionable and she’s uber amazing. Depth and superficiality, simultaneously is quite a fly paradox, right?
Find Samantha's Work:
Courtney Danielle Stradford is co-founder and creative director of Black Girl Fly Magazine. Born and raised in Staten Island, N.Y she is the epitome of a true New Yorker. She has an unwavering passion for fashion, hair, culture and of course a love for brunch! Courtney is a full time microbiology graduate student moonlighting as a natural hair and beauty enthusiast. She began her natural hair journey over a year and a half ago. By combining her creativity and passion she founded her brand Curls and Couture. The Curls and Couture brand caters to the natural, fashionable and fit woman while serving as a platform for advice and inspiration.