With Los Angeles being a great hub for artists of all sorts, East Hollywood has been quickly rising as prominent force in fashion. From your Silver Lake hipsters to the shabby chic bohemians of Echo Park, you’ll find that a lot of the fashion and jewelry worn by Angelinos are coming from a very talented underground group of budding fashion designers who specialize in everything from vintage looks to custom handmade jewelry. We sat down with Echo Park-based jewelry designer and stylist, Jessica Senteno — owner and the creative mind behind Black Willow Jewelry.
As an early art room nerd, Jessica would spend much of her high school lunch breaks drawing, collaging, watercoloring, and yes, even smoking cigarettes. “At the time I never imagined you could make a living doing something you truly enjoyed,” shared Jessica. “Least of all, in the art world so I thought I’d better find a sensible way to make some dough that was still creative.” This action plan took Jessica into eight years of fashions design working for companies she’d rather not recall, and basically fielding requests that were pulling away from her creative soul. “I was beginning to feel the least creative I had ever felt, just like another cog in the wheel,” explained Jessica. “I figured if I was sacrificing my leisure time I’d rather do it for something I truly believed in.”
Fast forward to the present day and Jessica is now fueling her innovative spirit, with her own Black Willow Jewelry small-business. Inspired by culture and ritual, as well as DADA and surrealism, Jessica revives vintage jewelry pieces as well as develops her own original creations. From gorgeous and aged-looking wrist cuffs, to gem stone bangles and gothic chest piece pendants — each and every work is made to order. You’ll also find some some hand-knit shawls and capes, as well as “pre-loved” vintage apparel that would normally take you days (maybe even months) to find.
Black Willow Jewelry has been featured in Sound & Vision magazine, Afro-Style magazine, Papercut magazine and many others. Most recently, the popular indie-psych band Unknown Mortal Orchestra featured Black Willow Jewelry’s “hallowed ground ring” along with a few other classic rings in their “So Good at Being in Trouble” video where McLovin battles a cult (you can watch it here).
Jessica’s work has been growing more unisexy, so that both men and women can enjoy her avant garde pieces. Her jewelry would look perfect on Stevie Nicks and the entire cast of American Horror Story Coven. If you’re into all those magnificent witchy vibes, or just want to add an item of style to your wardobe that will make people stare at you in admiration, you should stroll on over to BlackWillowJewelry.com and add some magical elements to your look. If you don’t see anything that quite fits your persona, Jessica can also work with you to create a custom piece as unique as your DNA.
5 Interesting Tidbits About Jessica:
~ Back in the day she once wore double socks with skull and crossbones Vans and tried looping a hanky off her belt loop a la Axl Rose.
~ Leonard Cohen will always be a bit of a heartthrob to Jessica (especially in terms of style), but her heart will always belong to Jason Simon of Dead Meadow (her long-time beau).
~ She loves dogs, LIKE REALLY LOVES DOGS.
~ Even though bands such as The Delmonas, Otis Redding, Sly, Burning Spear, and 13th Floor Elevators are some of her favorites — Jessica’s first concert at 14 years of age was SLAYER!
~ Jessica plays the harmonium in a group called Old Testament. It’s this dirty, haunting, folk style group that she used to to get so nervous before hitting the stage that she would vomit.