Amanda LuYm was born in Cebu but educated in the United States for high school, university and graduate level studies. She describes herself as an “extrovert in my profession but an introvert in my personal life.”
“I have always been creative and have never thought of being anything else, except for being an animal vet because I love animals. I ride horses. I love the ocean. I enjoy travel and revel in a good meal. I am equal parts monk and bon vivant, and have no problems switching both roles. I dislike the society of gossips, people who engage in the trivial on a constant basis, and liars. I am always myself.”
To get to know her better, SunStar LIVE! did an email interview with her:
SunStar LIVE! (SSL): How did you get interested in photography and jewelry making?
Amanda LuYm (AL): I have been a photographer and designer since I was 12 and a creative professional since I was 18.
Photography began for me at an early age. I was 12 and on my first trip to Europe. My father allowed me to use the SLR he was carrying around and it stayed with me. I used that camera all through high school and university. I switched to medium format work in graduate school and for a majority of my commercial career, then of course digital media when the industry demanded that output. I do not know where the impetus to capture images came from other than I loved it. It was easy, it was silent; and yet, it was a language. I now realize that I used it as meditation, which I practiced on my own and shared when I chose.
The love for jewelry I can strongly attribute to my mother. I have many memories throughout my life of her looking at gems. She would design and collaborate with her favorite jewelers here in Cebu and Manila. That was my first step toward developing a personal aesthetic. It was when I first heard the word “taste,” and how that was not just a characteristic of food. I was imbibing knowledge through proximity, not unlike a fetus from an umbilical cord, though I did not know it at the time.
SSL: What inspires you in your photography and jewelry making?
AL: Inspiration can come from anywhere. I am on a constant stream of exploration in literature, performances, graphic novels, film and any form of media that captures my attention. The new technologies available make things even better for someone like me. We can access museums, archives, films and shows from all around the world. This pandemic alone I have seen dozens of operas, ballets, and performances previously unavailable, but Covid has forced performance companies to rethink how they present their productions. There are films and television archives and a number of sources for books online, just full of worlds to explore. I occasionally tell my friends that I am on a deep dive and will explore a subject for days, weeks even, and I come out the other end with new knowledge. I no longer question this urge, as I know somehow it will filter into my work subconsciously. Inspiration is interchangeable with curiosity for me.
SSD: What’s your inspiration for “All That Glitters?” How did it start?
AL: I have no favorite pieces. I have favorite ideas. There are design themes that I like to return to and reference. I love the idea of twinning, doubling and reversing. Mirror images of the same idea, but never identical. My earrings come apart, can be put back together, and usually have a left and right side. I have designed pieces that can be worn dangling from the ear and if you switch which ear you wear them in, they can flip upwards and are climbing up the earlobe. That line is called Lightspeed. Science fiction fans will recognize the name, and also the oblique reference to Einstein’s theory of spatial relativity. A female engineer who bought the earring recognized it off the bat and I remember having a lovely conversation on a busy day about how women and science should interact more.
I do have a favorite gemstone, the Gold Rutilated Quartz. Not a precious stone by technical definition, but it is elegant and beautiful, like streaks of sunshine trapped in time. It is gaining popularity now as it has been used by numerous fine jewelers around the world in many collections.
SSL: How has Covid-19 affected your business?
AL: The pandemic, the great pause, the subsequent economic contraction, all of it, is forcing us to look long and hard at what the world is, and our part in it. We have to look at what worked, what did not, and where we want to go from here. So now we are forced to pivot as human beings. We need to question our old modalities of thought. We cannot continue as a species on this highway of self- destruction. The pandemic is bringing all of this to light. The old systems are failing us and, we as a society, have to find a more sustainable, just and equitable way forward. I believe we have to analyze all of this and come up with our own active solutions that improve the communities we live in. Social evolution is no longer a possibility but a categorical imperative.
We have to look at what worked, what did not, and where we want to go from here. That is true for everyone involved in all kinds of industry and business, not just here in Cebu but worldwide. So this thought has kept me busy, and it was the starting point for the new project on the horizon.
My cousin and business partner, Cacay Moras-Server, and I have decided to finish developing our website and fully migrate online as a lifestyle brand. We evolved beyond jewelry, which will still be there, but our other lines will be there as well. To start, we will be launching Padayon, our lifestyle pieces in the way of everyday lounging/poolside malongs (unisex), and tote bags. These will be made with locally sourced materials, as we are doubling down on our commitment to a local supply chain. Our jewelry pieces are made locally as well. I believe in the Filipino artisans superior craftsmanship. We have other in-house brands in development as well which will also be on that site.
We developed our new weave patterns with Debbie Palao of Holicow and the weavers of Hablon de Cebu, and we also used some weaves from their existing dead stock. Patricia Mancao, owner of Cheeky Chic, helped me realize the designs I wanted and is producing the totes for us. We will create everyday luxury with a supply chain that helps more crafts people in Cebu.
SSL: You’re a cancer survivor. How has that experience affected your current life?
AL: Seven years out from diagnosis, treatment and recovery, I find that my life is not how I planned it to be. It is better. I have allowed it to evolve organically, I make decisions that are true to myself and I am uncompromising in that. Cancer and surviving it was a lens that forced me to focus and see things for what they are. Things become very clear when you are scared and fighting for your life. You must ask yourself “what is important, what is necessary, and what are you going to do about it”? I decided that if I survived I wanted to reengage with the world as a full time creative. If I allowed myself to be optimistic, I saw that I was in the perfect place to rebuild myself emotionally, physically and mentally. There is a freedom that comes with surviving that gauntlet.
Having survived it, I find a renewed sense of self. I am driven to be engaged with my community in meaningful ways. So when the company was “born” it was my way of being creative again. It was my healing tool. I chose for it to help heal others by creating a line specifically for donation purposes. I am very lucky that Cacay agreed to it. In the last five years, if anyone purchased a piece from us set in Pink Gold Plated or Fine Gold, then 100 percent of the proceeds went to a breast cancer foundation. We never take a profit from a pink piece.