The Fontan family—the Brazilian clan behind dynamic jewelry brand, Caleidoscópio—not only share a creative sensibility, they are also spookily in step when it comes to career choices. Remarkably, mother Mailda and sisters Jeanine and Renata all jumped ship from their previous jobs as architects before establishing their successful design business in 1996.
Jeanine started designing jewelry for herself at university and Renata followed her. “For two years, our atelier was a room in our architectural offices,” says Jeanine. “The business grew, and in 1998 we opened our first shop in our home city, Maceió.”
There’s an upside and a downside to family business. “It’s nice, because we know each other well and we share the important decisions, but we have different personalities, so creative clashes do happen”. But the Fontan women are adept at keeping work and family life separate, and each shoulders a different aspect of the business: Renata is the “money lady”, Mailda takes care of production, and Jeanine’s focus is sales. And just as friction creates a perfect pearl, the outcome of their creative differences is jewelry that is unique and very, very desirable.
The Fontans’ relationship with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS began in 2006, when they created the “Renascença” necklace for a design competition sponsored by Swarovski Brazil. That design went on to pick up four awards and become a bestseller, while the trio went on to build a brand known for its opulence and expert, intricate craftsmanship.
In the quest to create Caleidoscópio’s characteristic jewelry magic, they and their team of thirty skilled staff use SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS, beads, semi-precious stones, and pearls in glorious abundance, and arrive at creative decisions by an inevitably circuitous route. “The name ‘Caleidoscópio’ (kaleidoscope) is a perfect expression for what we do”, says Jeanine. “Our ideas come from all directions—never in a linear way.” Brazil’s beauty and cultural influences provide huge inspiration. “Our design identity is a fusion of the treasures of our homeland—its beaches and rivers, mountains and forests, and the way our people dance, play music, and live—combined with our own love of art, architecture, and design, and our curiosity and imagination.”
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