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by Halley Sanford September 24, 2022 2 min read 1 Comment

You might have heard us speak of her in different live launches and such, but as we feature her pieces more and more, we want to give you a quick introduction to this Navajo jewelry artisan and her beautiful beads. 

We met Rethema “Thema” Tsosie somewhat by happy accident. Well, by proxy, anyway.

“When we were in New Mexico shooting for Adirondacks, we were able to coordinate to shoot sweet Penelope Joe, the darling Navajo model who reached out to us about wanting to work with us,” Cheryl explained. “And Thema is Penelope’s mother, so she accompanied her to the shoot, and while Penelope was in hair and makeup, we got to do a lot of visiting with her and learn that she, too, is a creator.”

Creative talent clearly runs in the family. If you recall, Penelope Joe is a remarkable artist, an award-winning painter, and one of the youngest artists ever entered into the Santa Fe Indian Market. Thema also comes from a long line of jewelry artisans.

“My dad was a really good stamper until he got sick,” Thema said. “We come from one of the master stampers, actually.”

But Thema’s main focus is beading.

“Thema makes beautiful multi-strand necklaces,” Cheryl said. “Like sometimes five strands, sometimes 50. I think one of the things that is so remarkable about them is how they combine uniformity with variation; the beads are uniform in size and strung precisely, and then they have this gorgeous gradient of hues to the stone and Thema has an eye for arranging them. We’ve actually started commissioning her to create necklaces to complement each collection. Like some of our other collaborators, we let her know ahead of time what colors we’ll be incorporating and then she works her magic. It’s been wonderful.”

As Thema once explained to us, there’s an honor and authenticity to that kind of partnership.

“Me and my dad, we never did shows,” she explained. “There’s not a lot of us around anymore who are like that. When you find a wholesale jewelry artisan, those are the ones you’re looking for. They’re different. We’re the ones who actually live on the reservation, we’re the ones who work our butts off to keep our lifestyle going. Some of just want the work.”

When we asked Penelope (with whom we’re also collaborating, but shhh!) her thoughts on Mom also teaming up with DDR, she was unsurprisingly adorably thrilled and proud. 

“Happy,” she said. “That’s all I’ve got to say. Because she’s been doing this for years, working and making new different jewelry and necklaces, always hunting down gem shows, turquoise, jewelry supply stores, etc. I know she’s thankful, too. One of the coolest things about my mom is we both love Western fashion and our Navajo culture a lot. Fashion is everything to us because we design something different all the time. We are very thankful to be a part of collaborating with the DDR family.”

The feeling is mutual! 

If you haven’t checked out some of Rethema’s remarkable work, go take a look!

1 Response

Carina Spies
Carina Spies

October 10, 2022

Love how you get artists to collaborate with you‼️ the work is amazing💕

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