Yvette Crocker began her fashion career as an artist. The self-taught painter, who grew up in Washington, quit her 9-to-5 job a decade ago to take on the world of fine art: working in a gallery and independently selling her paintings, which now grace the pages of Essence magazine each month. It wasn’t until a friend, recognizing her artistic talent, challenged her to make a beaded bracelet that she delved into the world of jewelry-making. Crocker’s brand, Tsion Rocks, is one of six vendors participating in the "Here and Now" installment at Thread, which kicks off tomorrow. The first-ever showcase aims to draw attention to lesser known, emerging talent from around the country; DC-based labels Woodrow Jewelry and Erika Schreiber will also make appearances. We caught up with the designer to hear more about her products and what she’s most looking forward to at the weekend’s events.
How was Tsion Rocks Jewelry born?
I’ve been a painter for many years, and I’ve always wanted to make jewelry. I started one day by making a chunky, artsy charm bracelet, which a fashion blogger named Monica Byrd eventually featured, and it got a lot of buzz. A good friend saw the piece and asked if I knew how to make the beaded bracelets that some celebrities, like Jay-Z, were wearing at the time—they were diamond Shamballa bracelets. I decided to take on the challenge; when I started making them, they weren’t popular yet and there were no tutorials on YouTube, so it took me about two weeks and a lot of money to complete. That was the birth of my brand. I just decided to keep going.
What’s your impression of the Washington fashion scene?
I have lived in DC all of my life, and I have to say the style scene is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s a really interesting place where you have this merging of politics and fashion.
Who are your favorite designers?
Jewelry designer Sally Sohn. Yves Saint Laurent, Tom Ford, Chanel, and a new fashion designer by the name of Kuteka Hill of TikiGlam out of Houston. Her work is amazing; I recently discovered her on Instagram.
What are some local stores you love?
How would you describe the aesthetic of your brand, Tsion Rocks? Do you have a target customer?
Tsion [pronounced “Zion”] Rocks is a fusion between natural and bling. My target customer is young male and female adults looking for something vivid and unique.
What is your favorite piece you’ve ever created?
I haven’t created it yet! I constantly feel like I’m still growing as an artist. I always have a favorite until I create that next piece that excites me.
Tell me about the time the First Lady was gifted a Tsion Rocks piece.
The Anderson Monarchs’ Girls Soccer Club in Philadelphia and the US Women’s Soccer Team were invited to the White House by Michelle Obama to run drills as part of her Let’s Move! campaign. The organization planned to gift the First Lady and her daughters a signed soccer ball but wanted to present them with another special item. I was approached by the Monarchs’ coach, Jafi Barnes, who asked me to design bracelets for Mrs. Obama, Malia, and Sasha. Those bracelets, the signed soccer ball, and T-shirts were gifted to the Obamas. I was later contacted personally by the White House appraiser who informed me that the gift was received; Mrs. Obama was allegedly spotted wearing it while passing out treats to trick-or-treaters at the White House in 2011.
Which other celebrities have worn your jewelry?
Native Washingtonian Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers, Kanye West, Raheem DeVaughn, and most recently, singer/songwiter Sevyn Streeter.
Where do you get your artistic inspiration?
I am inspired by fashion. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had my head buried in fashion magazines. I spent every summer as a child in New York with my glamorous grandmother. I was exposed to high fashion whenever I was with her.
How can customers in DC purchase your jewelry?
People may contact me directly. My jewelry designs are one-of-a-kind pieces—I do not mass-produce—but I can accommodate various budgets. Interested buyers can call 202-286-4810 to make an appointment, or visit my website.
What are you most looking forward to about Thread?
Thread will be an incredible opportunity to gain exposure and attract new clients. Tsion Rocks will be introduced to a new audience that may not be familiar with my line. Since I operate without a storefront, I look forward to having a physical presence that will allow me to interact directly with customers.