Drawing on the raw and seductive style of Indonesia's traditional cultures, James & Daughter makes unique hair ornaments from hand-carved Indonesian buffalo horn, a cruelty-free byproduct in rural Indonesia.
Founder and designer Agatha Simanjuntak- Ellis is an Indonesian citizen educated at Berkshire School in Massachusetts; California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles; and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, also in Los Angeles. She has been in international fashion public relations, marketing, and retail for more than a decade.
For years, Agatha had trouble finding anything cool and modern yet soulful to put her hair up with that was also practical, versatile and chic. The discovery of antique hair sticks made of horn during her honeymoon in rural Sumba sparked a creative thought process, which resulted in a journey into the culture and history of traditional carving.
Horn hair sticks, once used for wedding dowries, inheritances, and as collateral for loans in old Sumba, a remote island famed for its sandalwood and horsemanship in the southeastern fringes of the Indonesian archipelago, were increasingly rare and difficult to find. As is happening all over the world, centuries old crafts and cultures in Indonesia are disappearing as a young generation abandons "backward" traditions. While studying and learning about carving, Agatha realized that traditional techniques were being pushed almost to the point of extinction by the side effects of modernization. She was determined to create something fresh and relevant from a history of craftsmanship which is the Inheritance from an Old Indonesia that is fast-fading; JaD was born.
The four styles of the South Seas Cowboys Collection reference traditional Sumbanese ideas and motifs for people, animals, and ancestors: the Philosopher, the Hornbill, the Brothers and the Sisters.The styles offer a juxtaposition of light and dark, gold and silver, old and new. Each features a strongly fertile and feminine aesthetic that is a balance of ethnic and modern; of Ball Gown and Rock n' Roll.
Experienced carvers carefully select the best dark and white horns, paying close attention to grain, texture, opacity and the horn's subtle striations. Expert jewelers accentuate each piece by hand with silver, gold, and precious stones like diamonds and emeralds. No two pieces are exactly alike. Each reflects the Dedication and Artistry of accomplished and cultured traditional Indonesian carvers and craftsmen, making each JaD piece an act of Slow Jewelry.
Indonesia: an intensely diverse polyglot archipelago of seventeen-thousand islands whose Fathers of Independence believed that a unified national identity shaped by democracy, wisdom and Social Justice could be woven from many diverse threads.
Agatha named JaD after her father, the late James Simanjuntak. James believed strongly in the compassionate and optimistic message of a diverse national unity grounded in education and infrastructure. He was a minority born into humble beginnings, and the recipient of numerous scholarships and opportunities which enabled him to succeed. He was a man who was greatly respected by all who knew him, and a firm believer in Paying-it-Forward. Never boastful or desirous of recognition, he kept Secret Acts of Kindness to himself. JaD pays its respects to these concepts and to his memory by honoring the national slogan of Bhinekka Tunggal Ika. Often translated as Unity in Diversity from an ancient epic poem, its literal-translation has remained relevant and timely throughout the centuries: Although in Pieces, Yet One.
JaD would like to thank Martin Westlake in Jakarta, Indonesia.
A remarkably accomplished photographer, Martin shot the JaD look-book and also provided several stock photos for use throughout this website. JaD would also like to thank Thunderwing Press in Garrison, New York and Greenlab Group in Jakarta, Indonesia for their fantastic contributions to JaD's development.