By Tomboy KC | Photography by Alyssa Greenberg
Phoebe and Annette Stephens, the designers and founders behind the jewelry line Anndra Neen, set out to create a line of modern heirlooms handcrafted in their hometown of Mexico City. After being inspired by the art and culture on a trip to Japan, the sisters launched Anndra Neen in 2009. The collection quickly garnered a cult fashion following of those looking for statement jewelry that was more architectural than glitterati – must have items ranging from a cage clutch to a layered gold collar we’ve already made our own.
We first met sisters Phoebe and Annette Stephens at a trunk show at Elements Boutique. We spent equal parts of the evening obsessing over the Anndra Neen designers sculptural jewelry and trying to convince them to move to Dallas (but seriously though) – the proximity to their workshop in Mexico City being a key selling point.
We’ve since met up with the sisters in New York to talk personal style, what it’s like working with family, and the inspiration for Anndra Neen. No update on getting the girls to move to Dallas, but we haven’t given up.
TKC: We are obsessed with the entire Anndra Neen collection. How did the line come about?
P&A: We had the light bulb moment while we were on a sister trip to Japan. It was such an inspiring city to us because it’s so forward in terms of design, whether it’s fashion, architecture or interiors – but at the same time there’s such a long history of craftsmanship that’s being preserved so well. We had obviously discussed creating our own brand for a while, but it was on that trip that we really decided to make it happen.
TKC: Why jewelry?
P&A: We grew up with a lot of creativity around us – our father’s artist studio was next to our house and our grandmother’s studio was the next one over! So as kids we’d always be running in and out and saw how they expressed themselves creatively.
Our grandmother who was an artist had always made jewelry as well, and her aesthetic influences the brand strongly today. Fashion was something we naturally gravitated towards and with jewelry we could apply so much of our knowledge of sculpture.
TKC: We know if we had to work with our family members, we would probably end up spending more in the therapists chair than at work. How do you work together to create such a harmonious collection?
P&A: We’ve always been close and we always wanted to do something together. It’s one of those thing that either works or doesn’t. We are quite similar in our vision of things and that’s probably what makes the design process so streamlined. Besides being sisters we are also best friends and never get tired of what we do!
TKC: Do you have a favorite piece?
P&A: The first piece we ever made. We still get a special feeling out of that one, perhaps because it was the first time that we saw our creation be realized. It’s a big piece and has that raw visceral element of the first time.
TKC: Did you consider calling the collection anything else and/or how did you arrive at the name?
P&A: The name took a while. We knew the importance of the brand name so that created a bit of pressure because we wanted something classic but still personal and unique. In the end we combined both our middle names Annette and Alejandra.
TKC: How would you describe your personal style?
P&A: Mad Max meets lady who lunches.
TKC: Day to day, what are you wearing? Do you have a work uniform of sorts?
P&A: Every day is different – during the day you’ll see us in jeans and Converse with Mexican tops. We like mixing vintage finds and other things we collect on our travels into our day-to-day. And we love supporting talented new designers in our industry.
TKC: Is there a particular designer that you tend to favor?
P&A: At the moment we really love Russian designer Alena Akhmadullina and all her intricate embroidery and beautiful prints.
TKC: On the flipside, are there any trends that you absolutely loathe?
P&A: We always like taking risks and trying new things, whether they are part of a trend of not. We’re quite indifferent to trends so there’s nothing really that we violently oppose!
TKC: If you could only buy one item this Summer, what would it be?
P&A: Whatever you come across on your travels! Let it be a spontaneous encounter and something that will last beyond one summer.
TKC: What is one item that is safe to buy on a budget?
P&A: Anything vintage. You don’t have to spend that much to get something fab!
TKC: One worth splurging on?
P&A: A good olive oil.
TKC: Name one beauty product you couldn’t live without.
P&A: African shea butter.
TKC: What is the last song you had playing on your ipod/iphone?
P&A: Do You Remember by Ane Brun.