Words by Kinisha Correia & Photography by Niesha Brown
The pure energy of good vibes, consciousness, whimsy and the unique celebration of stunning earthiness behind each Story & Myth bracelet and necklace has made the brand a steadily-building vortex that has gracefully washed over the locally-made, and undeniably chic fashion scene in Jamaica.
More than just beads, Kristie Stephenson, Story & Myth’s founder, has carefully crafted the line to uplift and empower its wearers. Each bead symbolises inspiration, strength, hope and faith, with the aim to inspire those adorned by them to rise above fears, setbacks and life’s inevitable challenges.
“We have such a beautiful island and some of us don’t really appreciate it…”
A strong believer in the metaphoric power of a culture’s longstanding stories passed down from generation to generation, Kristie often shares folklore and ancient mythology to illustrate truths around self-empowerment, inner strength and divine protection, as well as calls for a collective push towards a more socially and environmentally conscious community. This belief in the potency of cultural tales is what sparked the creation of the line’s Story & Myth name.
The tale of the River Maid, for example, is what Kristie explains is the Jamaican version of the mermaid myth, which she says reminds us of the importance of preserving our natural resources, while also representing the beauty and strength of feminine energy.
“The River Maid is a freshwater mermaid and the guardian of Jamaica’s waterways, streams and canals, and all its fish she considers her children.”
“The River Maid is a freshwater mermaid and the guardian of Jamaica’s waterways, streams and canals, and all its fish she considers her children,” she shares. She explains that in parts of rural Jamaica many will tell you they have encountered the River Maid and will even say they’ve seen her visit the church. Kristie says that the story of this mermaid-being can be traced back to African origins, brought to Jamaica through the transatlantic slave trade.
The River Maid is not to be feared, Kristie says. “We have such a beautiful island and some of us don’t really appreciate it. You often see plastic bags and garbage in the rivers, but if we think of the River Maid as a symbol of all that lives in the waterways, maybe we’d be more conscious not to destroy them. The River Maid asks us to take care of our natural resources and environment.”
The mermaid is a figure of female strength, and mermaid stories can be found in almost every culture of the world, Kristie shares. As a Story & Myth bead-wearer, a lover of water and nature who wants to remind herself of her personal power as a woman, may be drawn to select a mermaid charm from the line’s collection.
Kristie uses other popular Jamaican imagery and folklore to explain the significance of many Story & Myth charms, to remind people of their inner strength and the interconnectedness of cultures and people.
“The lion charms are tied to Africa, Ethiopia and Rastafarianism. If you notice, a lot of gate entrances in Jamaica have lions heads on them. The lion symbolises strength and authority,” she says. A Story & Myth lion charm bead can be worn by those who want to remind themselves of and embody the traits of authority and strength.
According to Kristie, the crocodile symbol is also another powerful charm, encouraging creativity, balance, the ability to go deep and resurface.
“The crocodile is an ancient creature representing a deep connection to Mother Nature and wisdom. It represents ultimate power and protection. Its back is like an armour and can deflect bullets, but its underside is vulnerable. This speaks to duality and balance. Being associated with water, they can see clearly into emotional worlds and encourage us to look but not be seen. Having acute senses makes them successful predators, which has been paramount to their continued survival, outlasting some now extinct animals,” Kristie says.
The Patoo or owl charm, another strong symbol in Jamaican culture, is associated with prophecy and divination. The owl is a messenger, able to see in the dark, invoked when one needs to see the truth. The Story & Myth owl charm can be worn to remind us of or bring forth the truth.
Beyond her firm focus on positive intentionality for those who wear Story & Myth, Kristie has also woven goodness into all aspects of her socially and environmentally conscious business model.
Each bead is made by local artisans – many who have physical disabilities – providing much-needed income for the makers and their families. Also, the line’s main bead, Job’s Tears, grows by waterways and are recycled into the eco-friendly, sustainable works of art that are each one of Story & Myth’s beads.
As a profoundly thoughtful, purpose-driven entrepreneur who has built success through dedication to positivity, Kristie is indeed an inspirational, creative woman in business to be celebrated for her desire to have a true impact on the world. |P