Carolyn Roumeguere’s childhood is something out of a novel — or National Geographic. As the daughter of a French social anthropologist who married a Maasai warrior, she grew up in the tribal cultures of Kenya, before becoming a jewelry designer and taking on the nomadic lifestyle herself — Paris, Peru, the Yucatán, Lamu, Malibu, Monaco… Now based in New York’s Hudson Valley, Roumeguere talks to us about her travels, Maasai memories and how her daring designs tie back to it all.

Growing up in Kenya…

I grew up spending a lot of time with my Maasai
friends herding goats and sheep across the East
African savanna, learning the language of the bush,
looking out for tracks to know what animals had
walked on the dusty path before us, looking at the
sun to know what time of day it was and falling
asleep to the warriors and young girls chanting
around a fire.

My memories with the Maasai…

As a child I would spend hours with the women,
learning the art of beading, sitting in the shade
of the cow dung-plastered houses they live in.
It is they who sharpened my sense of color and
design and taught me to appreciate the
surrounding beauty and to live in the moment.

The inspiration behind my
jewelry collection…

All tribal people have an inherent sense of elegance, a perfect balance of shape and color. They are my
inspiration not only visually but also in lifestyle for they live in harmony with nature.

My design signature…

The core of my being is African and it comes through in my work even though I work with artisans in India, Mexico and Peru as well as Kenya. My work is a fusion of cultures; I tap into tribal aesthetics and translate them to fashion. I only create buzz words and allure.

The very first piece of jewelry I fell in love with…

A second dynasty Egyptian necklace that my mother was given as an engagement present by a close friend of hers who was an Egyptologist. I now wear it with pride and joy wondering what Egyptian goddess wore it before me…

Style tips for wearing bold and
audacious jewelry…

I believe it is not so much what we wear but how we wear it.
Jewelry can help empower a woman to feel strong, beautiful,
self confident. We choose what we wear to help us look good,
but the key is to feel good as then our light radiates and
touches all around us. My jewelry carries the loving energy
of the artisans in faraway places who made it as well as my
intention to elevate each woman to be the goddess she truly is.

My treasure-hunting travels have also
brought me to…

The Yucatán, where I bought a house in the small Spanish
colonial town of Valladolid. It is only an hour and a half from
Tulum and its beautiful beaches and yet retains the charm
of a bygone era, and is close to some of the most spectacular
pyramids of the Mayan culture.

And I found my way to the Hudson Valley because…

I love the light, the vastness of the sky at night, the wide-open spaces, the fact that I see deer, coyotes, bobcats and eagles as well as being two hours away from New York.

My favorite place in the world…

The northern frontier district of Kenya where nomadic cultures still live as they have for centuries in symbiosis with nature, where there is no sign of the First World’s destruction of our planet.

And first-time visitors there must…

Go on a camel safari as after a few days walking in the most spectacular landscape to the chant of warriors, waking up at dawn and going to sleep under the stars, your entire being feels rebooted.

An insider tip from one frequent flyer to the next…

Leave home with the excitement of a child, treasure each second as it is truly all we have and do not postpone traveling if you can do it right away. Nothing enriches our lives more then opening our eyes to the world and celebrating our cultural differences.

All photographs courtesy of Carolyn Roumeguere