Featuring Congés; Jewelry Designed with Spirituality and Love
by Karina Gallego
Profession: Designer / Founder of Congés
Congés is a lifestyle brand that represents the life philosophy of Jasmine Penna, brand owner and designer. Congés means “to be on holiday” in French. But to Jasmine it means more than that, it encompasses the serenity captured while on vacation. So of course, we needed to interview her! And it was such a pleasure! I admire her candid, sweet way of expressing herself.
At the age of 11, Jasmine knew that she wanted to be a designer after being mesmerized by her grandmothers work in the fashion world. What inspired her most to pursue an artistic career was the passion that her grandmother put into every dress she created, the detail and countless hours of dedication in a tiny, hot apartment in the middle of Hollywood! Now, as a designer, she is inspired by the spirituality of ancient cultures, Egyptian, Native American, Far East. “All my collections are an extension of people around me, their understandings, needs, traditions, and cultural differences, which in my opinion, are different interpretations of a similar point of view,” says Jasmine. “I am fascinated and will always be inspired by all the common denominators we all share on planet Earth.” Traveling and seeing the differences in these ways of life inspired her current collection.
Her collection evokes a sensation that awakens “what a person feels they are missing or to amplify the good things they are currently experiencing in life.” Jasmine feels that stones “have the power to enhance courage, self-betterment, open-mindedness and forgiveness.”
Jasmine’s process of creating a collection begins with a storyboard of everything that has inspired her, from people to places. Her key is to “start wide, then narrow down.” And finally, she begins her search for high quality manufacturers. However, she loves “natural imperfections”. What sets her designs apart is her strive for seamless pieces, for example, “no hoops to show on pendants.”
“The eye” pendant is currently a motif she made into a one of a kind piece. To Jasmine, “the eye” symbolizes the belief that your third eye exists. “Some cultures believe it’s located behind your neck, some believe it’s in the center of your palm… but most believe it’s in-between your two eyes,” shares Jasmine. “I feel it sees everything! It’s an extension of your intuition, insight, gut feeling, and inner intelligence. That’s why I designed the eye closed and not open. It’s symbolic because you need to trust yourself. Really following your intuition. I’m just learning and starting to trust myself. When my son was born, he didn’t open his eyes for the first 6 weeks. I was fascinated on how he found my breast and from touch knew when it was me or someone else holding him. That really inspired me. I know there is a medical explanation to this. But it was the starting point to my “inner eye” fascination. So now I am working on a collection with this design and utilizing different stones to signify and accentuate the desired feeling. It’s the “eye, I see you with; “strength”, “courage”, “love”, “purity”, and so on. An eye that has the clarity of white diamonds, the center to show color, vitality, personality, and the black lashes to complete the balance within yourself and nature.”
I love the way Jasmine explains the mystical with so much passion and how open she is with her spirituality. It really translates into her work and her pieces are truly powerful. Jasmine shared a couple interesting stories with me and one of them being about her strong “sixth sense”. When she was younger she wasn’t very open about it because “when you’re predicting earthquakes it tends to scare people”, she said. At around 13 or 14 years old she kept praying “Go away! Go away!” and it was suppressed up until 6 years ago. When she was a teenager she would approach people randomly to share a sentence or two that meant nothing to her, yet somehow meant everything to them. “It was tough to deal with,” she shared with such sincerity. “I am starting to trust myself for who I am and my abilities. I’m also Type 1 Diabetic. From my early teenage years with this condition, I have been in many terrible situations, and have made it through. Every time I found myself in a dangerous situation, somehow, I would connect with those around me and let them know I need help. I am not sure how it works, but it does. I have story after story that I can tell, or those around me can share about my “gift”. My husband thinks I’m mystical. I think he is mystical. I think everyone has magical qualities that they might or might not have realized yet.”
I was curious to know what was her secret to success while taking on the multiple roles of business owner, designer, wife and mother. Surprisingly, her system has been to not really have a system! Jasmine explained that ever since she gave birth, she’s just been “rolling with the punches”. “Whereas, before I gave birth, everything was a little more systematic in the sense that “now I need to do this” and that probably also had to do with my medical condition where you need to check your blood sugar levels, eat at a certain time and eat this amount of food. But now as a mom I’m more fearless and more like “I need to get this done for myself” or “I need to get this done for my family”. But there isn’t a particular system that I’m following just because of the chaos of life and having a baby.”
Jasmine is an inspiration not just as a professional but as a woman and as a mother. I’m so grateful that somebody like her is a mother. There are lots of children in this world that need a mother who’s as conscious and compassionate as she is. It’s a difficult role most women take on in this society, to pursue a career and raise an incredible human being! With that being said, we all need to make time for personal well being whether it be through meditation, exercise, food, etc.
Ever since she was a little girl, Jasmine has been meditating without even knowing that that’s what it was. She didn’t know that sitting in silence was considered meditation. Jasmine believes that “everyone has their own system.” But for her, “just sitting in silence and listening to the wind move around”, was meditation. “If I feel like I just need to be alone for a minute and just listen to myself, I would just do that. It wouldn’t be more than 5 or 10 minutes but I would do that.”
However, she often encourages people “to do what they feel they need to do for themselves.” Jasmine says, “I find sometimes that my peers are scared to listen to themselves so they either need to be constantly listening to music or they have to be talking to somebody or watching television as a form of distraction. I know I went through that stage as well for a little while and I just had to reboot myself and say “No, what are you doing? You need yourself, otherwise you can’t do anything else. You need yourself first and then you can be there for others.” So do I recommend meditation? Absolutely! I think everybody needs it at their own time and at their own pace because it could be intimidating sometimes. I know that’s happened to me but I embrace change. I absolutely love change. And meditation I feel is a powerful tool for that.”
As an artist, we must keep ourselves relevant. Being “well-read” is part of what inspires us. In Jasmine’s case, she reads A LOT about crystals. “I will always keep educating myself on that subject. Just from creating the kids collection alone I must’ve read nine different books, watched documentaries and learned about different crystals.” Additionally, “I’m always trying to read up on topics pertaining to my own profession just to hone my own skills,” she says. Although, she’s not very keen on reading up on the news. “I try to stay clear from it as much as possible because I can’t let it go. And my husband is always watching CNN and I just notice my entire mood changing especially with this day and age, I just can’t. I prefer ignorance. I rather not know. I just already feel it. Everyone feels it. People just want to confirm this pain and heartache in the world.”
Jasmine, on the other hand, creates beautiful jewelry that also promotes healing! Her entire jewelry line is based on the intent of creating “something to collect, something that does something for you and something that is so pretty you want to keep it on everyday.” So working with these powerful, healing stones and crystals is the reason why her pieces are so powerful. Ultimately, her goal is to continue designing pieces inspired by ancient Japanese culture, ancient Indian culture, ancient Chinese culture, Roman, Greek, Armenia etc., because she believes there’s something to say for the practice of ancient times or what it meant to them. “Somehow it still relates to us today. Just like ancient Egypt is one of the most ancient cultures but something about that era still means something to us today. You don’t even have to be Egyptian to feel it and you don’t have to be Indian to feel the power of their culture. We connect to everything and that’s what I’m trying to do. To bring awareness to it and for people to connect with it.”
Jasmine also does her part in trying to run a sustainable and eco-friendly business to the best of her abilities. “I do care about the environment and having my pieces made in the United States. They’re made locally in LA and I try to incorporate as much of it as hand-made and not with a machine.” Congés is not just sustainable for the local economy but it’s also environmentally friendly because there isn’t much overseas shipping involved in the manufacturing process reducing CO2 pollution in the air, so thank you Jasmine. Keeping a business local is definitely sustainable and environmentally friendly. Ultimately, we just try to do the best we can!
For Jasmine, approaching life joyfully is about being “one and true to yourself.” Because “then nature will treat you the same. Appreciate all around you.” None of the Congés stones are treated for this very reason. “We are all the same but different in so many ways. Each of our shades are a little different. Some of us have been more scuffed up than others but we all live and breathe in the same environment. This makes us all connected and united as more than just a human race but as a deeper entity with many expansive branches. One stone is not any more special than another. There is not one alloy that is more precious than another. Every single one is important in a different category. Every person and every stone needs to be appreciated for their own value, beauty, and environment. All is one and one is All.”
I gained so much more than what I thought I would from my interview with the gorgeous Jasmine Penna! As a young woman I value learning from others experiences especially when they are successful women who pursue a passionate, artistic career. As a compassionate designer, Jasmine’s connecting our beauty with healing. Wearing one of her pieces will inspire you inside and out!
If you’re interested in connecting with Jasmine Penna and her wondrous brand, you can check out her website at www.beonconges.com/.