Meet the sisters behind downtown jewelry brand, Anndra Neen
Anndra Neen is a jewelry line with a special kind of history. The brand comes from the collective fantasy of Annette and Phoebe Stephens, two sisters with design in their blood. The Mexico City born pair are the granddaughters of Annette Nancarrow, a jewelry designer whose fans included the likes of Frida Kahlo and Anaïs Nin. Family roots aside, Nancarrow gave the Stephens sisters much more than interesting lineage. The designers learned from her that no matter what, “you have to stay true to yourself.” Their eye for art and architecture inspires their unique pieces. Self described as “the anti-sheep,” Anndra Neen is mixing their memoirs with metal. “It is the story of how we grew up, the art we were surrounded by and what inspires us. Anndra Neen is a combination of our names: Caitlin Annette and Phoebe Alejandra.” the two explained.
The sisters set out to make their dream a reality after a “bonding trip” to Japan. They had always wanted to work together, but Anndra Neen was not exactly what they had in mind. “We did not set out to be jewelry designers.” they said. But the two ended up back in their native Mexico City, where they met an artisan that they still work with today.
“We showed a few of our finished pieces to friends and contacts in New York and everything grew organically from there. Once we started, we were surprised at how natural it felt, perhaps because it was in our lineage.” they said. The New York Times broke their story in September 2009, and the sisters were catapulted into success. They quickly became known for their geometric jewelry designs, all influenced by art and architecture. But the experiences of their globetrotting made their way into Anndra Neen too. “Traveling has also played a major role in what inspires us. We will sit down and have a design pow wow, and little by little our collection will unfold.” they said.
The pair says that working together is one of the “best aspects of [their] job.” Their familial bond has a deep influence on Anndra Neen’s success. “We do everything together — its kind of crazy but it works for us.” the sisters said. “Since we started our line, we have grown so much individually and our relationship has only gotten stronger because of it.” This personal connection translates to their jewelry effortlessly. In the fashion of true “artisanal luxury,” each piece is crafted by artisans from mostly alpaca-silver or brass. This allows for experimental designs. Their “iPhone Cage Bag” is a true example of this. “It is a handmade product so there is always a learning curve when you are making changes and pushing the boundaries a bit. The greatest thing about the people we work with is that they are so open to trying new things and they adapt quickly.” they explained. The sisters accredit the signature caliber of their jewelry to their artisans, an “integral part of the Anndra Neen family.”