Q&A: Karissma Yve, Creator of Xenophora

The Brightmoor native discusses the meaning behind her jewelry, her journey to Paris Fashion Week, and beyond
Photograph by Bre’ann white, Courtesy of Xenophora

Brightmoor native and Xenophora creator Karissma Yve is making more than jewelry. She’s making a name for herself. “I have literally gone from nothing, not a pot to piss in, and have really made something,” Yve explains when describing her Alchemy collection. The line is inspired by spiritual and philosophical transformation. “That’s what I do,” says Yve. Like an alchemist turning lead into gold, Yve says she has transformed her experiences growing up in Detroit into an internationally-recognized business.

Aside from operating the only full-service jewelry manufacturing facility in Detroit, the designer has had her pieces appear in boutiques around the globe and even showcased during Paris Fashion Week.

Getting to this point has been no small feat. In January 2017, Yve received a $35,000 Motor City Match grant (presented by former Vice President Joe Biden) and has been continuously growing from there. Following the grant, Yve has been involved in various collaborations, including one with Roslyn Karamoko, the CEO and founder of Detroit is the New Black.

Yve sat down with Hour Detroit to discuss her journey so far, as well as the personal meanings behind her jewelry collections.

Hour Detroit: What, from your experience growing up in Brightmoor, has inspired your collections?

Karissma Yve: I think, mostly, the experience of it. I don’t have very literal inspirations that you can look at, see, and touch. It’s the feeling. Jewelry is such an intimate product. When you wear it, you feel it. It’s like a talisman. My experience growing up there was the symbolism, mysticism, and the esoteric that you’re seeing within the products and the language of the company. For example, my latest artisanal collection for Xenophora was, “We Shed Tears Like Layers of Skin.” It is a jewelry collection where I 3D-printed the chemical composition of tears based on the tear type. I worked with tears of possibility and hope, tears of release, and tears of those yearning for liberation.

Growing up in Brightmoor, specifically, I know that I have cried many tears of possibility and hope. Almost everyone I have seen in that community has cried tears of possibility and hope. They’ve also cried tears of release and they’ve also cried tears of those yearning for liberation. You know, freedom from the blight and the poverty that we are in. And the physical abuse that we may or may not be enduring at that moment. Most likely, we are because of our socioeconomic displacement. These are very emotional collections that are more spiritual that are meant to connect more with the person rather than the personal style of the person. The style aspect is secondary. It looks good, but the meaning behind it is what will connect you to it and transform you.

Can you tell us about Casting de Khrysopoeia? How did it come to fruition?

Yve: Casting de Khrysopoeia is a full-service jewelry manufacturing facility and a boutique design house. This manufacturing facility is about providing access and resources to other designers and brands, like myself, or better. We provide services, starting from concept to creation. So, that means if you came into the manufacturing facility with a paper napkin sketch, we will take that and we will help you develop a fully-rounded jewelry collection that you can take directly to market. We do that by offering services like CAD (Computer Aided Design) and brand/design consultations, finishing, casting, mold making, stone setting, etc. There are few things that we don’t do that we are working towards offering. But, as we grow, it feels good. I know that all of the services that we offer I can stand behind and say, “This was made with love and this was made with care.” This is the best damn quality you are going to get in the United States.

Which of your personal accomplishments is your favorite and why?

Yve: Just the mere fact that I was able to take an idea and manifest it into reality. It applies to everything. I’ve said that I wanted to go to Paris Fashion Week and I had absolutely nothing to show for it. This was way before I even started really making collections that were strong that they could have been shown during Paris Fashion Week commercially. Once I went, I realized that I want to do that more. Also, developing Detroit’s first and only full-jewelry manufacturing facility and design house. It was just another stepping stone and it speaks to every single thing I’ve done.
But, when you hear me talk about my accomplishments, like “Oh, I was able to realize my idea into something in my life,” it sounds almost fairytale-esque, but that’s the reality of it. Also, the deeper part of it is that I had to go through a lot. And also, while manifesting a life you want to live, you’re also manifesting the challenges and struggles you have to go through to really see where you want to be. People don’t talk about that. And it sounds so luxurious, like “Oh, I’ve gone to Paris Fashion Week.” But the value is, really, that yes, I went to Paris Fashion Week, I struggled, I worked my ass off, and I made it here. Then, I’m going to continue to struggle, work my ass off, and make it to the next point. That’s really what it’s about.

Is there anything you can us about your upcoming projects?

Yve: Yes! I’m really looking forward to launching the new Xenophora Formed product line. Those are more competitively priced, lightweight, every day, and more wearable pieces that still have that symbolism, meaning, and purpose that the artisanal collection has. [The products are] eco-silver (100 percent recycled silver) to raise awareness on the more eco-friendly fair trade mining industry. [This is] to give local miners what they deserve: to be compensated at a fair price and to build up their own communities. I’m looking at giving a portion of the sales to a charitable organization that I will be unveiling soon.