Meet The Artist
Hey friends! My name is Karissa but most people know me as Kiki. I was born in the Metro Detroit area of Michigan. The OG of house music, Motown, and otherwise known as the Motor City. While I loved the variety of the art, culture, and epic music scene the winters were long, harsh, and took a toll on my quality of life. I’d often vacation to Maui and felt a sense of ease with the year-round perfect weather and slower pace; eventually, I packed two suitcases, saved a bit of spending money and in 2016 I decided to call the sunny shores of Maui, my home.
Believe it or not, I wasn’t always in love with the ocean - in fact, I was often pretty nervous about, sharks, large waves, and the sheer power of the ocean! I’m sure it was pretty comical for the locals watching me figure it all out but I grew to really love my time in the water over the years. As I spent more time at the beach, I found that looking for shells (or, “shelling”) became an epic treasure hunt, where finding the varying colors or sizes of each shell was like discovering pacific ocean gold. Each shell requires a different level of effort to collect, and no two shells are the same in that they differ depending on the lifestyle and lifespan of the animal who once inhabited them. Now as an avid sheller, these rare finds are precious gems for island-girls like myself and my clientele.
My Art History
In one way or another, I’ve always been an artist and was lucky enough to inherit my father’s creative genes. Like most kids, I grew up coloring, painting, drawing, dancing, and singing. I found at an early age that I had a natural talent for arts and used them as an outlet during my challenging times. As an adult I worked as a professional makeup artist but later found doing the same bridal look for makeup wasn’t going to be my passion. In college, I took courses in art and art history to expand my knowledge but also found that to be… well boring. I then transitioned to crafting one-of-a-kind eye-catching headdresses and out-of-this-world costumes for music festivals and Halloween. Not only did my costumes have incredible detail but I of course needed jewelry to match! Which I guess would be my first go at becoming a jeweler. You could say that I have always had a sheer obsession with jewelry; as a kid, I used to examine every piece in my mom's wooden jewelry box and study how they were made. As an adult, I would designs rings and necklaces then have someone else create them as a custom order. I loved creating my own pieces but never had enough knowledge when it came to working with precious metals to make my own. Fast forward to living on Maui I was finding a lot of pieces that weren’t authentic gold or were cheaply made, and it became evident that if I wanted quality jewelry at a fair price - I was going to have to make it myself! Once COVID19 hit like most people, I lost my job and wanted to use the downtime to reinvent myself. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the arts and had to be passionate about it or I wouldn’t fully commit. Then almost overnight Island Aura was born.
The Journey & Moving Forward
The creative process, from start to finish, is what I love most about this business. From drawing the structural concept, to finding and pairing the perfect shell, to eventually seeing my design make someone smile - it’s all incredibly rewarding. When I’m wearing my favorite pieces of jewelry I genuinely feel a sense of happiness and I hope that feeling is translated to my clients when they wear theirs. Moving forward I plan on continuing my knowledge of metalsmithing by taking classes and hope to one day have a team of creatives by my side helping me take Island Aura to the next level.