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Black Jewelry Designers: Dominique Renée

by Shakilya Lawrence

Photography provided by Dominique Renée

Fashion would not be the same if it wasn't for accessories. Everyone knows these little add-ons can be just as crucial as the outfit itself. Good accessories can help elevate, compliment, and complete your style. They are a form of self-expression - as some accessories scream "statement piece" while others are more minimalist. From handbags to jewelry and everything in between, the hunt for the right accessories to fit your taste can seem like an ever-lasting journey, especially if you want something different than the norm. Designer Dominique Reneé has successfully done this by executing a line of stylish nail art and extraordinary accessories that are made unconventionally.

This creative inspiration was brought up in Connecticut, in an environment where artistic expression and individuality were strongly encouraged. From a young age, Dominique’s environment allowed her to discover her passion for music and art—two elements that are extremely present within her collections. As a child, she had a love for creating, which extended into her adulthood as she went to college for Graphic Design. However, she quickly realized during her undergrad years that it wasn't something she could see herself doing for the rest of her life. This realization resulted in her trying out new avenues of artistic expression during her senior year. After getting her first sewing machine, she began teaching herself how to sew. Renee’s enthusiasm to explore this creative field ultimately sparked her interest in makeup and nail art, which of course led her to design her collection of fabulous accessories. After one of her nail designs went viral on Tumblr, her talent took off and cultivated the career she had always longed for. While following her calling, Dominique decided to acquire her certification in Nail Technology and shortly after, developed a line of hand-painted nails. After seeing success in her first nail art collections, she expanded the DR brand to include other handmade accessories.

When it comes to developing and designing her accessories, Dominique didn't always have the idea to use 3-D printing to create jewelry but wanted to take the non-traditional route with her materials. Her journey to finding the right material began with her using polymer clay as the medium. However, she debated the idea to begin using metal clay since she was leaning towards making metal jewelry in the future. Upon doing more research, she realized metal clay wouldn't be the most efficient way to make jewelry - especially considering larger orders. With her brand taking off, creating a higher demand for her products and continuing to use clay materials would've become too time-consuming. This realization led Dominique to search for other alternatives. She considered using either laser cutting or 3-D printing over polymer and metal clay. Since she still wanted to incorporate metal into her accessories, she ended up using 3-D printing. This switch allowed her to still be very hands-on with the production process. "A lot of times you can create your own prototype by 3-D printing and [you] can send that model off for further casting and production." Being hands-on during the production process is important to Dominique as she mentioned that mass production wasn't necessarily a goal for her brand in the future. Her ingenious approach to use 3-D printing allows her to be efficient and remain an integral part of creating her accessories - adding a more personal touch to her collection.

The inspiration behind her collections helps add another layer of personal touch, realness, and openness as her approach allows us to know more about the designer behind the brand. Her collection is derived from personal and general life experiences. "It's either something that I've experienced firsthand or it's just a story that I want to tell. First, I come up with the idea and then I eventually move to the playlist." Music is the other half to her collection and inspiration, and her playlists are the "catalyst for what brings her collection to life". Music has always played a very important part of Dominique's life, especially since her mom was a music teacher. With her handmade accessories, she has found a way to blend meaning and music seamlessly to help better convey her sentiments. When viewing products on her website, you'll come to notice that every piece from her collection corresponds to a playlist essentially bringing her pieces to life. "Generally, every piece on the website has a link in the description where you can watch or listen to the song [the piece] was directly inspired by. Each playlist is carefully curated to help set the mood and communicate my feelings and message behind every piece."


Since Dominique didn't go to fashion or business school, there was a learning curve she had to overcome to make her brand a success. Without prior experience or knowledge, Dominique had to learn about the business side of running a fashion line all while having to run her line. "It took me years to truly understand the business aspect and how it works. [Everyday] I'm still learning!" Besides having to learn the ropes, Dominique says her greatest challenge to creating a fashion accessory line is that it's such a saturated market. "I think that's the case with everything these days. Because of the times that we live in, everything is at your fingertips. However, jewelry, itself, is such a saturated market within the realm of accessories." The success of her collection has demonstrated that there's still plenty of room to shine within the market for accessories. The key is to find a distinctive way to stand out while remaining true to yourself.

Dominique describes her collection as a "playful exploration of personal experiences, ironies, lies, and truths - that is produced from a playlist of emotions." Through her unique approach to her line, she's been able to create pieces that empower women. By allowing her emotions and personal experiences to be at the forefront of her designs, it makes her collection more personable and relatable. As a result, her collections have been in popular demand, being featured around the world and in publications like Poza Magazine, The Fox Magazine, Sicky Magazine, and so many others. Pieces from her collections have also been featured in music videos with Kiara Kelly and by social media influencers Bree Runway and RiRia. With her brand sustaining demand and popularity through the years, expansion of her collection seems very likely in the future. Dominique has dreams to start producing handbags and shoes as it's always been on her list of things to do.


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