Brooklyn’s Entrance Road includes a handmade jewellery retailer promoting a sustainable South American treasure.
Within the verdant hills of Colombia, Daniel Neisa spent his childhood surrounded by a crop referred to as tagua. This species is within the genus Phytelephas, which interprets actually to “elephant plant,” and produces a walnut-sized nut that, when mature, hardens right into a carvable materials just like ivory. Lengthy utilized by Aboriginal folks for meals and jewellery and adopted by European explorers for buttons and knife handles, this tree nut has turn into the inspiration for The Tagua, Neisa’s jewellery retailer within the picturesque, touristy Brooklyn neighborhood of Dumbo.
Opened in October 2020 at 145 Entrance St., The Tagua’s vibrant jewellery stands in the course of a small enterprise enclave, promoting rings, necklaces, earrings and different equipment created from pure merchandise like tagua nuts, cherry seeds, coconut and the rest Neisa can discover in nature.
“When I discovered this [acorn] down within the park, I stated, ‘Effectively, we have to make one thing,’” Neisa, who now lives in Midwood, stated. “And now I’m engaged on it. Like I say, every little thing is a course of.”
Seven days every week, for six hours a day from 1-7 p.m., Neisa, 53, crafts at his work bench in a small nook of the store. With tagua items and strings aplenty, he cranes his neck as much as beckon any passersby to his retailer, the place he shares the virtues of this versatile plant.
As salsa music performs within the background, Neisa welcomes clients by inserting two variations of the tagua nut of their palm — one brown and textured, one white and clean — as he explains the method of refinement that scrubs away the arduous shell of the nut, revealing the ivory-like core used for jewellery. Wearing a neon inexperienced jacket and apron embroidered with the shop’s insignia, Neisa seems extra like a craftsman than a businessman, however he explains that this retailer in Dumbo isn’t his first tagua enterprise.
“My enterprise in Colombia was to make elements for individuals who make jewellery,” Neisa stated, strolling across the retailer and highlighting the intricate items of tagua that come collectively to type his necklaces, earrings and bracelets.
He pointed to purple and green-dyed tagua earrings that he referred to as “papa frites,” as a result of their form resembles potato chips. For 25 years in Colombia, Neisa offered nuts used to make particular person jewellery items like these to bigger companies. With entire tagua nuts being offered for 40 to 60 cents, it appeared unimaginable to make a dwelling producing them. His spouse, Carla, agreed.
After getting married, Carla advised her husband, “We made a mistake. We ship all the fabric out, why don’t we go into making the jewellery?”
Neisa and his household later moved from Colombia to the US, and started promoting jewellery. At his Brooklyn enterprise, Neisa’s daughter assists in advertising and marketing the shop on Instagram, which he says helped draw in additional clients. His clients, he says, are a mixture of vacationers strolling by the world in addition to newer residents of housing developments in Brooklyn. Prior to creating jewellery, he was additionally a photographer, and he now captures images of consumers in his retailer sporting his jewellery to add to the Instagram account.
One of many merchandise he’s been engaged on is earrings created from the tops of acorns. Embellished with blue and inexperienced resin, the once-brown shell swirls with a deep symphony of colours that makes it arduous to consider the unique materials was sourced organically. It’s with this sustainable method that Neisa each crafts his jewellery and leads his life.
He pointed to a tree rising in his store. At its trunk have been the damaged items of tagua jewellery from the workbench: “After I break some items, I put them in right here and so they turn into disintegrated.”
Costs vary from $20 for smaller items of bijou to $100 for bigger items. His costliest merchandise, a chess set created from brown and ivory items of tagua nut, glistens with a skinny coat of resin. Together with Neisa’s handmade jewellery, The Tagua additionally sells equipment created by Indigenous South People, and shares a espresso model that helps restore wildlife populations within the area.
Neisa was fortunate sufficient to develop up in a neighborhood the place a crop like tagua grew, however it was his personal acumen that turned the useful resource right into a sustainable fortune.
Regardless of his success, Neisa stated that operating a enterprise in Dumbo is just not easy.
“This enterprise is just not a simple means,” Neisa stated. “Once you put a retailer right here like this one, it’s essential to take endurance for it to develop.”
Neisa leaves each buyer with a bookmark of the New York Metropolis skyline and a hyperlink to the store’s webpage. He pointed to a pin on his apron, that includes a coronary heart inside a palm and an inscription: “At all times Making Issues.”
“That’s the wonder right here,” Neisa stated, “I can create one thing day-after-day.”
Contact Derek Kamakanaaloha Soong at [email protected]