Islandista on the rise: Haitian-American jewellery designer Monique Pean

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Islandista-descended jewellery designer Monique Pean has been getting plenty of buzz in 2010.

From Michelle Obama wearing her designs to being featured in O Magazine as one of ten women on the rise to profiles in Essence, New York Magazine and Businessweek, Monique’s star is on the rise.

A former Wall Street banker, Pean, whose Haitian father is a former UN diplomat , turned to jewellery making in 2005 after her little sister Vanessa, was killed in a car accident at just 16.

Out of the tragedy came the Vanessa Pean Foundation, which provides scholarships to students at the Centre D’Etudes Secondaires in Haiti and recently completed a spring-fed well in Cabestor which is now providing clean water for over 6800 people.

The tragedy also led directly to what is now Monique Pean Fine Jewellery as her creative form of therapy eventually became a business when a boutique store manager asked about a one-of-a-kind necklace she was wearing  which was made from – get this – fossilised wooly mammoth tusk from the Artic Circle.

When Monique said she’d made it herself, the manager asked to see her line sheet.

“I had no idea what a line sheet was,” Pean told Businessweek in a profile on her that is out this week.

However, the interest led her to approach more boutiques and within six months, she had left her position at Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs to start doing jewellery full-time.

And from there, she has progressed by leaps and bounds. She received the CFDA/ VOGUE Fashion Fund prize in 2009, and is the recipient of the 2009 Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award for Accessories.

She has also expanded her production staff so they are up to producing 1000 pieces a year – doesn’t sound like much unless you consider that their prices go as high as USD$203,840 for a recycled rose gold, 33.4 carat diamond bracelet.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Eliana Aponte

Still, between Mrs. Obama’s frequent appearances in Pean’s designs – at a state dinner and on an April visit to Mexico, business is booming. Business has grown 136% in the past year and high-end retailer Barney’s carries her line in eight of its national stores.

A good look indeed!

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