working girls: yam & yar

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Sisters Yaminah and Yarminiah Rosa are bringing new meaning to the saying, “I’m not my brother’s keeper.” With complimentary strengths, the two founded jewelry line Purposerosa, which has been worn by the likes of Esperanza Spalding. The jewelry and the brand is built on a spirit of creating something from nothing and the two sisters are walking examples of  the very notion they’re trying to spread.

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Name: Yaminah Rosa (Yam) & Yarminiah Rosa (Yar)

Age: Yam 27, Yar 22

Location: Yam lives in Chicago, IL and Yar lives in Brooklyn, NY

Profession: Yam Public Relations and Jewelry Design at Purposerosa; Yar Creative Director and Jewelry Design at Purposerosa

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How did you get started?

Yam: We have both always been artists and creative individuals. Yarminiah began designing jewelry sophomore year of college with a friend. They would sit on her dorm room floor and literally make jewelry for fun from magazine clippings, cardboard, and nail polish. She began taking it seriously in 2010 while on summer vacation from college when she came to stay with me, Yaminah, in Miami. The guest room in my apartment was empty except for a bed and a metal shelf. On the shelf was a box of matchsticks, and next to them a bottle of wood glue. Yarminiah picked up those matchsticks and made a few pairs of earrings out of them. She showed me the design and I loved it! We began to look for other found materials to create with and started a blog where we sold our first earrings. That is how Purposerosa began. We have now sold our designs all the way from Barcelona to New York, and are excited for the future because we know this is only the very beginning!

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What’s an average day like?

Yam: Everyday is so different. Yarminiah may be refining a newer design from our studio in Brooklyn or out shopping for materials in the fashion district in Manhattan. Meanwhile, I may be traveling in either Chicago or Miami putting together a fashion show for our newest designs. Regardless of our location, we wake up and thank Jesus for life. Next, we whip up a quick breakfast (usually a fruit smoothie) and get on with our day. Tasks can range from updating our website and social media, to meeting with other artists for collaborative projects, editing campaign photographs and videos, talking with potential vendors, researching the market, or preparing for our next collection. What we enjoy most are studio work days where we sit with materials, listen to NPR or some good music, and bring design ideas to life. We love to take our time and discover the true nature of our material of choice. The process can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months to reach an aha! point. If it’s a new material we are just getting used to, it may take quite a few months to truly finalize the design. We will occasionally end a studio work day with a gallery opening, party, or film screening where we get to meet new people and share stories.

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Why do you do it?

Yam + Yar: Building our brand is not just about making art, it is about improving who we are as people in every area of our lives; as entrepreneurs, creators, friends, daughters, sisters. We are constantly fulfilled by the fact that we inspire people in our commitment to making something from nothing. We train ourselves to find the possibility of positive transformation in materials that are considered unworthy of attention. Just as we look at materials and see potential for greatness, we do the same with people. We are building a legacy for anyone who doesn’t feel they can make their dreams come true.

Ups and downs you sometimes face on the job:

Yam + Yar: Since we do not mass produce or manufacture our product, the physical process of creating a design can be challenging and tedious at times. Still, we love the process and would not have it any other way. It is so rewarding to run into people on the street wearing our designs that we work so hard on creating. Seeing Esperanza Spalding in our Fuse earrings was a really high moment for the both of us because we have so much respect for her and are flattered that she appreciates our artistry.

Your greatest achievement so far?

Yam + Yar: We are living our greatest achievement, and that is to be pursuing our dreams of owning our own business. While some aspects are difficult, we are constantly driven towards gaining more knowledge. We are forced to look for the answers, master our style, and strive to be better than yesterday.

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What might be next for you?

Yam + Yar: We both know we are destined to be entrepreneurs. Our minds are set on becoming highly successful and effective business women. We see Purposerosa as a lifestyle brand that is recognized for its ability to inspire positive transformation in objects and people. We continue to work towards Purposerosa ad campaigns that feature women of all walks of life, of all sorts of physical appearances including disabilities or diseases. We plan to continue to celebrate that which would normally be looked down upon or pitied. More women need to hear our message to “make something from nothing,” go after your dreams and inspire others so they in turn can do the same. It’s a cycle. We are excited about giving back and keeping the cycle of giving alive.

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hair

What are your top 5 go-to hair tips?

Yam + Yar: 

  1. After you shampoo, braid or twist your hair in the shower. It makes life much easier to comb and braid under running water.
  2. Wrap your hair in silk scarf at night. It really helps keep your style neat, and is great for your ends.
  3. Shea Moisture, Coconut oil, and Olive oil are our go-to moisturizers.
  4. Eat healthy and drink lots of water.
  5. It’s one thing to play with your hair in the mirror, and another to wear bold styles out in public! We encourage you to challenge your confidence and rock new styles to see if you like how they make you feel. The most important thing is comfort!
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Fun Fact:

Yam: Not many folks know that my little sister Yarminiah is also a spoken word artist! At age 19, she wrote and performed her own one woman show directed by Nicco Annan. It debuted in NYC at the Dance Theatre Workshop.

Yar: Yaminah is an incredibly talented dance choreographer and began teaching her own routines to packed classes at the age of 16. Taking her classes was a highlight of my middle school experience. I always knew the routines better than anyone else since we would practice together at home the night before! I was so proud to say, “Yeah she’s my sister!”

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