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Hero of the Heart: Robin Renzi
Me&Ro jewelry designer reveals her activist side. She’s passionate, she’s determined—
and she’s turning up the volume on the issue of sexual violence.
Creativity comes easily for Robin Renzi, the prolific designer and CEO behind the New York City-based jewelry company Me&Ro. Taking her inspiration from ancient cultures, the natural world and “the human need both to adorn and to communicate through jewelry,” Renzi’s work is at once old and new. With contemporary designs blending with thousand-year-old beads, fine metals and precious stones come together in unique, elegant, understated ways. Renzi founded Me & Ro in 1991. Since then, her designs have adorned celebrities and found their way into feature films and several television shows. More significantly, however, they have raised public consciousness for issues which Renzi is deeply passionate about, including sexual assault and domestic violence.
Renzi is the creative mind behind Joyful Heart’s signature item, the Fearlessness pendant. A small pendant with a big impact, it is now worn not only by Joyful Heart founder and president, Mariska Hargitay, in her television role as Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU, but by thousands of Joyful Heart’s supporters. Reunion’s Managing Editor, Meaghan Morelli, sat down with Renzi to discuss her commitment to Joyful Heart and the issues of violence prevention and healing.
Meaghan Morelli: You say that you are “inspired by the human need both to adorn and to communicate through jewelry.” Most of your work does seem designed to communicate.
Robin Renzi: Jewelry through the ages has traditionally been a deeply personal thing. It’s used to mark all the important milestones in life: marriage, birth, anniversaries. In ancient Egypt, when you died, you’d take your jewelry with you. It’s a very personal form of self-expression. Now, pieces are handed down from generation to generation and they hold so much meaning and history. Jewelry marks the important moments in our lives and then it outlives us. These pieces that I design, that I wear, someday, my daughter will wear them, and maybe her daughter. I’ll be gone, but the jewelry and the sentiment will remain. Not everything I design is necessarily meaningful; sometimes jewelry is just beautiful. But most of my work captures a little bit of my heart.
MM: And the Fearlessness necklace, Joyful Heart’s signature piece? It certainly carries a message.
RR: The Fearlessness pendant is like a tattoo. Wearers seem to infuse it with a real power or significance, which in turn gives strength to the wearer. It’s like a way to manifest the reality of courage—or a way for a survivor to embrace her courage, to acknowledge it. People don’t talk about this issue—rape, sexual abuse. I mean, it’s better now than it was 20 years ago, but people still don’t want to talk about it. And there are still so many misconceptions. But these girls wear this necklace now, they identify with it. Then other girls see the necklace and wonder “What does that mean?” It’s another way to get people talking about this issue.