GARIFUNA Jeweler Mrs. GINA GONZALEZ-SOLIS Offers A New Vision of Loveliness With JEWELS OF JUNE Jewelry Company

 

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New York City, New York — Gina Gonzalez-Solis is one of a kind–for REAL.  This Jeweler / Jewelery Designer of Garifuna Descent is not only a Garifuna woman operating her own online Jewelry Company, ‘Jewels of June’; but within months of being in operation, her unique jewels have already been featured on network television news shows, magazines as well as popular programs on cable channels like BET (Black Entertainment Television).

Born and raised in the Garifuna town of Punta Gorda, Roatan Island, Honduras, Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis moved to America along with her parents at the age of 14.  Her love for creating things and natural knack for using all materials landed her at the High School of Fashion Industries where she majored in Fashion Design.

In late 2013 / early 2014, Gina founded Jewels of June.  As evident in the intricate designs, Jewels of June is a labor of love with a passion and dedication that began during her childhood,  Her love of the arts, the Garifuna culture, the beach and nature is where she draws her inspiration.

Custom item of jewelry designed by Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis of the  'Jewels of June' Jewelry company.  Photo courtesy of Jewels of June.

Custom item of jewelry designed by Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis of the ‘Jewels of June’ Jewelry company. Photo courtesy of Jewels of June.

Of Jewels of June, Gina states, “we design for an expressive woman.  She is stylish, feminine, confident, fun, loves fashion, vintage, culture and knows how to mix and create her own trends, and does it all without breaking the bank.”

With pieces that range from $10 – $50, Jewels of June has been featured:

  • on KTLA’s morning news show in Los Angeles 1
  • featured in the August / September 2014 issue of ‘Triple The Focus’ Magazine 2
  • worn by Keshia Chante of BET’s “106 & Park” Show.
  • Vibe Vixen Magazine 3
  • MTV’s Girl Code Season 3 4
  • in the Fall 2014 Issue of Txture Magazine (it’s debut).  5

Host of BET Show, '106 & Park', Keshia Chante (Center, in the white top and cream skirt) with members of the Pop Girl Group Fifth Harmony wearing accessories by Jewels of June.  Photo courtesy of Instagram.

Host of BET Show, ‘106 & Park’, Keshia Chante (Center, in the white top and cream skirt) with members of the Pop Girl Group Fifth Harmony wearing accessories by Jewels of June. Photo courtesy of Instagram.

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE.  Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.  Donations are accepted via the PAYPAL website so your potential donations are SAFE and SECURE.

In the Fall of 2014, Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis also participated in an online Question and Answer interview with Cocotique (a deluxe beauty box subscription service for women of color and diverse ethnicities) for their September box, which was curated by Actress Nicole Ari Parker.  One subscriber was able to win a box featuring a selection of Jewels of June Jewelry. 6

Custom item of jewelry designed by Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis of the  'Jewels of June' Jewelry company.  Photo courtesy of Jewels of June.

Custom item of jewelry designed by Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis of the ‘Jewels of June’ Jewelry company. Photo courtesy of Jewels of June.

Gina’s jewels have so far attracted a devoted following and acclaim.  Her aesthetic sense, attention to detail and appreciation of her Garifuna heritage have combined to help her offer the world a new vision of loveliness.  She is currently based in New York City.

I was able to interview Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis about her Jewelry company as well her background.  Read on to read her inspiring story and to discover how she transformed her dream into a reality.

TEOFILO COLON JR (BEING GARIFUNA): What is your title as it relates to Jewels of June?

GINA GONZALEZ-SOLIS: I am the Founder, Designer and Creative Director of Jewels of June.  I am New York based and my manufacturer is also New York based.

TEOFILO COLON JR (BEING GARIFUNA): How long has Jewels of June officially been around as a company?

GINA GONZALEZ-SOLIS: I registered the name several years ago just because I wanted to own it, despite the fact that I didn’t know what it would become but 2014 can count as the official Jewels Of June Operational year.

Custom item of jewelry designed by Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis of the  'Jewels of June' Jewelry company.  Photo courtesy of Jewels of June.

Custom item of jewelry designed by Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis of the ‘Jewels of June’ Jewelry company. Photo courtesy of Jewels of June.

TEOFILO COLON JR (BEING GARIFUNA): What motivated the creation of the company?  Are you the sole owner of the company or is there a collective that owns/operates the company?

GINA GONZALEZ-SOLIS: I have always loved accessories, jewelry, art and all things fashion and I always envisioned owning my own company.  I am the Sole Proprietor / Owner, Founder and Creative Director of Jewels Of June.

TEOFILO COLON JR (BEING GARIFUNA):  Does your Garifuna heritage factor into any of the jewels that you design and manufacture?

GINA GONZALEZ-SOLIS:  A lot of my inspiration comes from my culture. Garifuna culture is colorful, vibrant and I want to capture that. For example, I use a lot of gold because I know we are very superstitious and gold always brings good luck, so we have a lot of gold colored pieces.  I use wood, because it is used to make instruments, utensils, etc.  Sometimes a color inspires me, other times, perhaps a stone or a shape. I use vintage elements and make One of A Kind Pieces.  It is not a literal interpretation, but my culture is often times the starting point of my inspiration for new pieces.

Custom item of jewelry designed by Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis of the  'Jewels of June' Jewelry company.  Photo courtesy of Jewels of June.

Custom item of jewelry designed by Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis of the ‘Jewels of June’ Jewelry company. Photo courtesy of Jewels of June.

TEOFILO COLON JR (BEING GARIFUNA): How long have you been into jewelry?

GINA GONZALEZ-SOLIS: Since I can remember. I’d spent so many hours looking through thrift stores, vintage shops, flea markets and most importantly my mother and grandmother’s jewelry and button boxes.

TEOFILO COLON JR (BEING GARIFUNA): What is it about jewelry that fascinates you?

GINA GONZALEZ-SOLIS: The details, the ability it has to transform an outfit, someone’s mood, and how individuals can express themselves through their jewelry. I also love how an item can have so much history and the effort that goes into making jewelry it’s just something that requires true admiration.

TEOFILO COLON JR (BEING GARIFUNA): Where does the name of your jewelry company, Jewels of June, come from?

GINA GONZALEZ-SOLIS: The name ‘Jewels of June’ is a marriage between what we sell, which is Jewelry/Jewels and June because that is my birth month.

Custom item of jewelry designed by Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis of the  'Jewels of June' Jewelry company.  Photo courtesy of Jewels of June.

Custom item of jewelry designed by Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis of the ‘Jewels of June’ Jewelry company. Photo courtesy of Jewels of June.

TEOFILO COLON JR (BEING GARIFUNA): How did you learn about the jewelry business?  What do you have to say about your journey being from Roatan Island, Honduras to the United States of America?

GINA GONZALEZ-SOLIS: I am self taught. What I cannot do and don’t know I hire experts for. I word hard and I am passionate about what I do. Growing up in Punta Gorda, Roatan Island / Bay Islands / Honduras; I knew there was something different prepared for me, even if sometimes I questioned my path.  As you probably know, I come from a very small village where many times people have to defer their dreams because poverty is rampant and survival is the main priority.  I was blessed with talent and the ability to transform an idea into reality.  I am incredibly blessed to be able to follow my dream and see them take life after so much work, sacrifice and effort.

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE.  Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.  Donations are accepted via the PAYPAL website so your potential donations are SAFE and SECURE.

I’ve met Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis in the year 2009 / 2010.  In 2010, I founded a Garifuna Entrepreneur Networking Meeting Group where like-minded people of Garifuna American descent could meet, share ideas and strategize about launching or furthering their businesses.   This was done in conjunction with the Garifuna Coalition USA Inc and meetings took place at their headquarters in the Bronx.

These meetings culminated in a ‘Basics of Business Planning’ Workshop taught by Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Garifuna Coalition USA Inc, Mr. Jose Francisco Avila.  This took place in January 2011 and it was here where Gina, while carrying her sketchbook filled with designs, shared her business ideas and passionately talked about the potential of everyone’s dreams in the room. The photo of Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis featured in this posting is from that ‘Basics of Business Planning’ Workshop.  7

Garifuna Woman Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis of the jewelry company Jewels of June at the 2011 'Basics of Business Planning' Workshop at the headquarters of The Garifuna Coalition USA Inc in the Bronx.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Garifuna Woman Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis of the jewelry company Jewels of June at the 2011 ‘Basics of Business Planning’ Workshop at the headquarters of The Garifuna Coalition USA Inc in the Bronx. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Also, I’d often see her on her relative’s stoop in the East New York section of Brooklyn and she’d often show me the latest sketches she’d drawn as well as photos of jewelry and clothes that she’d made.  What was (and remains) striking to me about Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis is not only her obvious beauty and intelligence; but her drive, her insistence and her passion for figuring out how to birth into reality her jewelry ideas and dreams.  I am extremely proud of her success and actively pump my fists in the air and cheer her on when I can.  I extend a hearty “Buidumeimeibei!” (“Congratulations” in the Garifuna Language) to Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis of the Jewels of June company.

Please go to the Jewels of June website to buy jewels or to contact Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis.   Jewels of June Social Media websites include:

Facebook –  8

Twitter – 9

Instagram – 10

There are other Jewelers of Garifuna descent, some of whom have made striking jewels whose Garifuna influence is overt.  Whether it is jewelry in the colors of the unofficial Garifuna flag, or whether making Jewelry featuring canonical items of Garifuna culture, these jewels need to be shared with the world.  I hope to profile those jewelers at some point in the future.

Custom item of jewelry designed by Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis of the  'Jewels of June' Jewelry company.  Photo courtesy of Jewels of June.

Custom item of jewelry designed by Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis of the ‘Jewels of June’ Jewelry company. Photo courtesy of Jewels of June.

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE.  Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.  Donations are accepted via the PAYPAL website so your potential donations are SAFE and SECURE.


ABOUT The Garifuna People

The Garifuna people are people of African descent (in other words, Black people) whose ancestry can be traced to Africans mixing with Carib Indians and Arawak Indians on the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent. From this fusion of race and ethnicities in St. Vincent Island, a distinct culture and language arose.  They are noted for being one of the few (only?) peoples of African descent (again, in other words, Black people) in the Americas to have maintained aspects of their ancestral culture and full use of their ancestral language for everyday use over the course of hundreds of years.

After being defeated in war with the British on St. Vincent in 1796; 1004 men,  1779 women and 1,555 children for a total of 4,338 people (mostly Black Caribs, as the Garifuna people were then known) were captured and taken to Baliceaux, a small island, a rock, basically, off the coast of St. Vincent.  This took place from July 1796 through February/March 1797.  About 2,000 Garifunas died of a mysterious and very infectious fever while living on Baliceaux awaiting their fate.  11

In early March 1797, the remaining Garifunas were loaded onto the HMS Experiment and other ships.  Once they were rounded up, the convoy were taken to a Bequia, which is another island off the coast of St. Vincent. They proceeded to go to Grenada to get water, then Jamaica for refueling, then finally Roatan, Honduras, arriving on April 12th 1797.

Finding much of Roatan unliveable, the Garifuna people petitioned officials representing Spain and it’s government (which controlled much of Central America at the time) to be allowed to move to the Honduran mainland.  Upon being allowed to move to the Honduran mainland, namely the port town of Trujillo, Honduras in May 1797; the Garifunas settled many towns and villages along the Caribbean coast of Honduras.  They also migrated to the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Belize (then known as British Honduras) and Nicaragua over the years.  Finally, Garifuna People have also migrated to the United States of America where generations have settled in cities like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE.  Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.

Garifuna Woman Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis of the Jewelry Company 'Jewels of June' at the 2011 'Basics of Business Planning' Workshop held at the headquarters of the Garifuna Coalition USA Inc organization in the Bronx.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Garifuna Woman Mrs. Gina Gonzalez-Solis of the Jewelry Company ‘Jewels of June’ at the 2011 ‘Basics of Business Planning’ Workshop held at the headquarters of the Garifuna Coalition USA Inc organization in the Bronx. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

 

Notes:

  1. http://video.ktla.com/?vcid=26283591&freewheel=91045&sitesection=ktla
  2. http://issuu.com/triplefocus/docs/aug_sept_2014_issue_africa_miranda
  3. http://www.vibevixen.com/2014/06/vixen-verified-spruce-up-your-summer-look-with-jewels-of-june/
  4. http://www.mtv.com/shows/girl_code/video/full-episodes/
  5. http://www.txturemag.com/
  6. http://www.cocotique.com/blog/a-gem-of-a-company-gina-gonzalez-solis-jewels-of-june/
  7. http://www.beinggarifuna.com/blog/2011/01/19/free-garifuna-business-plan-workshop-to-take-place-on-saturday-january-22nd-2011-in-the-bronx/
  8. https://www.facebook.com/jewelsofjune
  9. https://twitter.com/jewelsofjune
  10. http://instagram.com/jewelsofjune
  11. Nancie L Gonzalez, “Sojourners of The Caribbean: Ethnogenesis and Ethnohistory of the Garifuna” pgs 21-23

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