In mid September, we received a phone call from R&B musician Janelle Monáe’s stylist, asking if I would design a custom ear wrap for Janelle. I had just flown to Maryland to make my annual appearance at the Maryland Renaissance Fair and Alisha took the call. At the time, Alisha had no idea who Janelle Monáe was! To be fair, however, I would have been just as clueless had I taken the call. After getting off the phone, Alisha consulted with Art, and together they did a Google search. To their chagrin, they discovered that Janelle is not just a popular musician, but something of a star!
Alisha called me in Maryland, relaying the message and within minutes, I was checking with my Google phone genie to find out all I could about Janelle Monáe. She was very stylish and talented, and I learned that she had performed with Prince, who already wears my ear wraps. I knew I needed to call the stylist myself, though the thought of that made feel a little nervous – it was a great opportunity! To tell the truth, I am quite shy, and the phone is my least favorite way to communicate. Finally, I stepped away from my booth at the festival I was attending in rural Maryland, and found a bench in a nearby park. After jotting down a few bullet points and taking a calming breath, I called the stylist. I was somewhat relieved when an answering machine picked up and I left a stammering message in return. Although I knew this would only prolong my agony, it gave me time for some creative thought and to make some preliminary sketches.
The next day, I did indeed connect with the stylist, who turned out to be very gracious and responsive. I spent the following few weeks texting numerous design possibilities to her, when suddenly, a family emergency arose. Though this prevented me from returning to my studio, my husband Art was at home and was able to use his magic graphic design skills to make my sketches look professional. He even added a few of his own ear wrap designs to the mix, and the stylist later confided in me that his “Crescent,” with large forward facing Cubic Zirconia, was the one she hoped that Janelle would choose.
Although we did not have a confirmed commission, I too loved Art’s design, and when I returned to my studio I spent an intense two days at my wax table sculpting. This would give us a head start in case Janelle chose it, and we thought it would be an edgy design to add to our own collection.
As we continued to text new designs to the stylist, Janelle began the start of a new national concert tour. Her wardrobe team was particularly concerned about the fit, and rightly so — no one wants an ear wrap flying across stage in the middle of a song! Eventually we even received photos of Janelle’s petite and curvaceous ear, alongside a ruler. Art has many high tech tools, and, using his laser cutter, her was able to cut cardboard templates of one of his designs in graduated sizes. We express mailed these to the stylist, and are still waiting to hear back. Fingers crossed!
On that note, we thought we’d leave you with one of our favorite Janelle Monáe tracks, Q.U.E.E.N.: