Cuyo jewelry is more than just eco-beautiful adornment. Sophisticated fashionistas immediately recognize the unusual innovation of the jewelry but as designer and Reiki Shaman, Tamika Rivera explains, “every piece is intuitive and all different kinds of women are attracted to what they need from the pieces.” Inspired by the quest to heal, Rivera began her studies in Shamanic Reiki in 2003. As a means of travel meditation, she began to weave and sew recycled scraps she had been collecting from designers around the world. Her fabric beaded bracelets turned into gifts that she was inspired to give to other healers and spiritual mentors she met on her journey. “Reiki is the life force in everyone,” proclaims the designer. “The most simple example is when you get a stomach ache and place your hand over it to make it feel better – that is healing through energy. I grew to become a conduit to that energy and I wanted to give back and recycle the vital force I was learning to channel.”
Honoring her roots, the designer also weaves intentions for indigenous energy to guide a spiritual return to nature. Rivera comes from a rich spiritual ancestry. Her great-grandmother was pure Taino – an indigenous culture from the Caribbean. Taino means “good people” and cuyo means “light” in the Taino language. “Creation itself is a healer,” proclaims Rivera. “There’s this idea that art and healing are separate from one another. They are one in the same. Everyone can heal through art and expression. It’s not just a ‘New Age’ concept, it is the reality of keeping your consciousness awake and present through creation.”
Introduced to Gahaya Links by a pioneer of the fashion industry, Tamika was inspired to design pieces for the organization that helps to rehabilitate women of Rwanda who have survived war. Gahaya Links assists women with traditional weaving skills to manufacture and sell their own goods. Co-founder Janet Nkubana’s goal was to heal and empower the women of Rwanda and promote the country’s socioeconomic development. The cooperative began with six women weaving baskets under a tree and has grown to helping over 3,000 women today.
This union was a perfect fit and became the real starting point for the Cuyo project, as Tamika realized her true goals in spreading awareness and healing through creation. She designed a bangle prototype that the women have named Hirwa, which in the Kinyarwanda language means to have luck while going through a difficult situation. The name of the bracelet says it all for these women who feel lucky to have been given the opportunity to manufacture the bracelets and have work to earn an income.
As this lady of light continues to conduct healing treatments and workshops between New York and Los Angeles, she is also planning to showcase the work from international female cooperatives in an upcoming healing exhibition/event kicking off this summer in New York City. Cuyo by Tamika Rivera is featured and available at Beautiful Dreamers in Brooklyn, New York.