Handcrafted on the Mekong

by James

EmptyName 6

We concluded our excursion on the Mekong with visits to many hard-working families that use local materials to produce a variety of handicrafts and home essentials. Echoing Nina’s combination of focus and creativity, these often women-led businesses demonstrated a relaxed spirit of entrepreneurial enthusiasm.

In fact, I later learned why it was common to see so much self-starting industriousness throughout my travels in Vietnam—95% of Vietnamese support capitalism, by far more than any other country (including the USA) surveyed by the Pew Research Center. With careful planning by our guide, we took to the canals and paths of Tân Phong island and nearby areas to meet as many of these women as we could.

 

Starting by sampan (flat bottomed small wooden boat), we cut through a lush section of Tân Phong to see the first shops before switching to bikes to complete our tour. Among the reed hat makers, tapioca-derived lacework artisans, hanging basket weavers, and others, my favorite was the ease with which a woman could carry on a casual conversation with Nina while also swiftly thatching a roof panel from nipa palm and the comradery among those selling beautiful baskets made from water hyacinth. While I didn’t bring home any thatch roofing, my daughters do now delight in having a sampan-shaped hyacinth basket to display geodes and other little travel treasures.

 

We also passed by many of the larger businesses along the main tributary of the Mekong. Sunday morning activity was light, but the size and number of the operations displayed the productivity of the region. The most notable buildings to any river traveler are the beehive-shaped earthen kilns rising dozens of feet above the banks of the river. Fed by massive baskets of rice hulls, these ovens typically dry bricks but also the pottery commonly seen throughout Saigon and further afield.

 

As our guide directs our boat to Vinh Long for the shuttle back to Saigon, we take with us an increased appreciation for the favors, sights, and people of the Mekong Delta. Seeing Nina’s team produce her stunning vision of the Mekong collection reminds me that Saigon is reflection of its place in the Mekong Delta.

 

 

Shop Local: Support your Community

shop local

It’s National Mom & Pop Business Owners Day!

You know, I am so happy to be able to write about the importance of our local, independent retailers here at Nina Nguyen.  Since joining the company and traveling all over visiting and meeting our customers, it has been such a joy to get to know so many incredible families.  The jewelry business has such a wonderful tradition of being a family owned business – I get to meet multi-generations in each store.  It always feels so good to see families working together,and giving back to their communities.  The amount of love these families have for their neighborhoods, and the ways they get involved, is SO inspiring!  I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to all our independent stores for all that you do!

Here are 10 important reasons we need to continue to shop local:

10reasons-2012

– Laura Tykodi, Brand Manager

National Puppy Day: Its a Druzylicious Pawty

pawty

Today, March 23, is National Puppy Day! It is no secret that we are dog lovers here at Nina Nguyen Designs. Our company mascot (and second in command) is our fierce and stylish monkey, Baci. Baci is a huge part of our Nina Nguyen family (as we are sure your dog is in yours!) and we adore her. Aside from her daily bacon, endless walks, and belly rubs on demand, we are always looking for more ideas to show her how much we love her!

What better way to show your pup some love than throw an awesome puppy pawty? Check out our marketing and event coordinator Amy’s puppy party. This critter inspired party was full of yummies for the puppies, a ‘puppy and me’ photobooth, and a few human treats as well.

1
The party featured a treat bar with doggy bags for the owners to fill up and bring home for their pups. All the treats were homemade with nutritious and dog friendly ingredients.  Check out the menu below.
IMG_20962
The Puppy Pawty Menu:
Pumpkin & Peanut Butter Cupcakes  – Used cupcake tin and frosted w/ peanut butter.
Peanut Butter & Bacon Treats – Used the Carob Frosting from the Donuts to dip half in.
4
Guests and their humans got to enjoy not only food and treats, but also had a fun time dressing up and making silly faces for a puppy photobooth.
IMG_pawty
While the party was mainly for the critters, human guests each got a few party perks. While enjoying the sun and watching their puppy friends play they got to sip on some puppy themed beers and wine.
IMG_20612
Each guest also was given a set of coasters featuring a geometric illustration of their pup!

IMG_2069

For more pictures and details visit Amy’s original post here: A Diamond Mind Blog

Spring is here at Nina Nguyen Designs!

slide_4

Spring is almost here and our current obsession around the Nina Nguyen office is the perfect compliment – terrariums! These beautiful creations are a staple of our new office’s décor. Because they make us so happy, I thought I’d share this fun and easy project with you!

IMG_1877

Here’s what you need:

  • Succulents- try combining a variety of heights and colors to make it more interesting
  • Glass container- there are tons of things that you can make a terrarium out of… the sky’s the limit!
  • Lava rocks/pebbles
  • Activated charcoal
  • Potting soil

Step 1: After you have found the perfect container, add a layer of lava rocks or pebbles for water to drain into. This should be about 1” deep, depending on the size of your container.

Step 2: Sprinkle a light layer of the charcoal on top of your rock layer, about ¼”. This serves to filter the water when it drops down from the soil above. Charcoal is especially important to prevent mold if you are using a closed container.

Step 3: Add your potting soil. Ultimately you want this to be a little bit deeper than the roots of your plants. I found it was easiest to start with only a little bit and then add more once the succulents are in place.

Step 4: This is the best part- plant your succulents! Experiment with the placement until you find a design that you love. Needless to say, Nina was awesome at this step of the process! Once they are in place you just add more potting soil and pack it down around them.

Helpful hint- If you’re planting a pokey cactus, loosely wrap a piece of paper around it to guard the points while you move it around.

Step 5: You can add a top layer of pebbles, moss, or bark if you want. It’s also okay to skip this step.

That’s it! Hooray! Check out these pictures of our terrariums around the office:

IMG_1880

IMG_1878

IMG_1879

Wrap yourself in Happy with a Harmony Birthstone Necklette

harmony all

If you’re looking to give a gift (or gift yourself!) a special piece of jewelry in the near future, then you might want to consider the Harmony Birthstone Necklette.

Birthstone jewelry makes a great gift, something unique and personal that carries a story and the promise of beautiful things to come.  Want to know more about birthstone jewelry?  Then this blog is for you!

The history of birthstones began centuries ago, with the creation of sacred breastplate of Aaron.   Aaron was the brother of Moses, and became the leader of the Levitical tribe of Israel.  Aaron’s sacred breastplate was adorned with 12 gemstones, and a connection was made between those 12 gemstones to the 12 months of the year and then the 12 signs of the Zodiac.  The Hebrew names for the stones on the breastplate have proven difficult to identify with any certainty as different translations of scripture identify different stones.

While ancient, traditional birthstones were society-based, in 1912, the modern birthstone chart was born when, in an effort to standardize birthstones, the American National Association of Jewelers met in Kansas and officially adopted a list, which, with some slight modifications, is still used today.

Throughout history, gemstones have been believed to hold magical and therapeutic powers.  Because gemstones come from the earth, each one has a special vibration.  Gemstones and crystals each have a unique structure and composition, which gives each one a particular vibration rate and quality.

Harmony, an extension of the popular Nina Nguyen Designs “Wisteria” Collection, is a fashionable, fun and affordable way to add gemstone jewelry featuring birthstone gems, to every woman’s jewelry wardrobe.  The exclusive Necklette design is available in a variety of gemstone choices, including Garnet, Amethyst, Aquamarine, White Topaz, Emerald, Moonstone, Ruby, Peridot, Sapphire, Pink Topaz, Citrine and Blue Topaz.

The versatility of this latest collection, enhanced by the ombre beads and resort feel, creates a sense of wrapping yourself up in happy, when slipping one (or more!) of these pieces on.

HARMONY WAYS TO WEAR

Jewelry from the Harmony collection is also a great choice for Mother’s Day, Graduations, Holidays, and any special occasion when you want give a personal, thoughtful gift.

For more information on Harmony, or any of the Nina Nguyen Designs Collections, visit Nina-Nguyen.com, email info@nina-nguyen.com or call 720-459-7664.

Have a Spring Fling with Harmony!

 BIRTHSTONE NECKLACE_5x7
We’re celebrating Spring, 2015 here at Nina Nguyen Designs, and are excited to announce “Harmony,” a beautiful addition to the Nina Nguyen Wisteria Collection.
Harmony embraces the best of the 2015 jewelry trends, including layering, the beauty of natural stones and beaded jewelry, which unite to create THE fashion statement piece your jewelry wardrobe can’t live without!
Available in a variety of gemstone choices including Garnet, Amethyst, Aquamarine, White Topaz, Emerald, Moonstone, Ruby, Peridot, Sapphire, Pink Topaz, Citrine and Blue Topaz, Harmony features the exclusive “Necklette” design, a favorite of Nina Nguyen jewelry fans. A fabulous hybrid between a beautiful, bold necklace and a bracelet, the Necklette easily allows for fashion forward versatility  which is a huge plus for fans of the Nina Nguyen brand.
Harmony features an ombre mix of 4mm Rondel gemstone beads in a variety of colors that lend themselves to mixing, matching and layering. Want to go for a bolder effect? Stack or entwine several of your Harmony favorites together to create a dazzling gemstone “Collar.”
 
harmony 2
And don’t forget the arm candy! The exclusive Necklette design makes every Harmony necklace instantly able to convert into a delicious rainbow of fun for your eyes and your wrist.
Ready for Harmony? Start your collection now!

Where the Leaves Change

The cascades of colorful leaves and warm breezes of Colorado got me in the mood to bask in the glow of my favorite season. The fall season is a transitional time of year, the changes in weather are obvious, but some changes are more subtle.

Silver bangle, Vermeil Bangle, layering accessories

I want to get cozy and buckle down for the inevitable transformation to winter, and of course to enjoy the outdoors in all of its colorful glory.

Druzy necklace, druzy ring, drussy photoshoot

 It also reminds me to get started on large projects and tackle everything on my bucket list. One thing I know for sure, autumn comes and goes so fast, I want to savor every delicious moment.

layering necklace, work wardrope, foliage fashion.

All Jewelry by Nina Nguyen Designs of course!
Blazer by J Crew
Dress by Free People 

Stackable Pallas Druzy Bangle
Stackable Geode Bangle