Meet the woman behind the blinged-out jewels you see on Basketball Wives.
If you tuned in to the Basketball Wives season 3 reunion special on Monday night, there was a battle royale — not between cast members but instead with Evelyn and the creators of a knock-off jewelry design company. After calling out Meeka for “trying too hard to fit in,” Evelyn proclaimed that Meeka had gone so far as to find imitation versions of the earrings that she and the ladies of the original cast have been rocking since season 1. But Meeka’s earring designers were in the audience and decided to get into a shouting match with Evelyn to defend the authenticity of their designs.
Well, sorry ladies. We’ve got an interview with the originator, Amber Kessee of POParazzi. Those sparkling hoops that Evelyn, Jen, Tami and Shaunie wear are the creations of this 20-something L.A. native. When asked about the controversy, Kessee brushed it off and said, “Its flattering to see so many people gravitate to my own personal style. I believe I'm very fashionable and imitators confirm it and that's amazing.”
The jewelry designer’s baubles have been seen on everyone from Lil Kim, Brandy and Keri Hilson to Rocsi, Kim K. and Amber Rose. She’s even showing the guys some love with her bracelets and rosary necklaces, which have been photographed on Justin Bieber, Steven Tyler and Diggy Simmons. Check out what Kessee has to say about the line.
Where did the idea for POParazzi come from?
I’ve just always loved everything about fashion. I used to get in trouble in school for being more fashion-driven than focused on school. My parents always say to me now, 'Who knew that your obsession with being cute in high school would pay off?'
What made you start designing jewelry?
I knew what I wanted to wear but wasn’t seeing it anywhere, so I began designing for myself. My friends started asking me to make earrings for them and things just branched out from there. I have a few girlfriends that are stylists and they used the earrings with their clients. There was a buzz from seeing them on celebrities and gradually stores started contacting me.
Which stores carry your pieces?
On my site, ilovepoparazzi.com, and Evelyn Lozada’s Dulce in Miami, Tionna Smalls from What Chilli Wants Loveys Accessories Boutique in Brooklyn, Bourgeoisie Shoes in Manhattan. And Bow Wow’s mom Teresa Caldwell sells them on her online boutique, Taste.
Wow! You’ve got quite the connection with the celebs. How did that happen?
I have a few celebrity friends and then there was always someone who knew someone. Lots of word of mouth and there was a buzz from seeing them photographed on celebrities.
How did you feel when Evelyn Lozada came to your defense when the other women claimed to be the original creators of your jewelry designs?
Evelyn has rocked POParazzi for years; she carries the line with exclusive pieces in her boutique. Everyone knows she rocks with POP!
Where do you find inspiration?
I see the designs first and visualize what they’ll look like. Then I get the materials and create them. I try not to look at other designer’s stuff. I don’t want to copy — a lot of people have started to copy me.
Well, it’s understandable. Your designs are pretty awesome. What’s your ultimate goal?
Online is pretty big right now, so I’d like branch out to more online boutiques and eventually try to get POParazzi into the big-name stores like Bloomingdales and Macy’s.