It’s not every day that Vogue and Vanity Fair rave about a little-known Phoenixville jewelry maker. While Ten Air’s boho-chic pieces now grace fashion magazines, Leslie Clearwater has been an artisan for two decades. And it wasn’t until COVID-19 closed her gallery that she really hit her stride.
HER STYLE: I’m not traditionally fashionable; my vibe is my own. I think I look best when I feel comfortable, natural and maybe a little eclectic. I love quirk and authenticity. It’s freeing not to “have a style,” because then I can wear anything that just feels good in the moment. As I age, I’m aiming to fall somewhere between Diane Keaton and Helena Bonham Carter—androgynously feminine and a little weird and messy.
WHAT TEN AIR REFERS TO: In astrology, you have humors and elements, and you should have a certain amount of each to be balanced. Out of 12 spots, 10 of mine are air.
HOW SHUTTERING HER GALLERY CHANGED HER BUSINESS: It was one of those closed doors that opened a bigger window. It funneled my attention more fully into creation and ushered in an expansion of my work.
WHERE SHE SOURCES HER MATERIALS: I’ve cast a net across the globe. It’s taken time to find lapidary artists who aren’t just reputable but also ethical, which is important to me. Now, I’ve developed trustworthy connections both abroad (some of my favorites are in Indonesia and India) and here in the U.S., particularly out west. A good portion of my turquoise comes from Native American lapidaries and mine owners.
RULES FOR PAIRING JEWELRY AND CLOTHING: I hate rules. If it makes you feel like a goddess, then you drip with that energy and you look good, period. My tagline is “intentional adornment for the unleashed spirit.” That can happen on your own terms, however you define them.
BEST ADVICE FOR BUYING JEWELRY VIA SOCIAL MEDIA: Create a relationship with your artist. It adds a whole new dimension to jewelry to know who made it, how it was made and what the stones represent. It’s like farm-to-table dining—it enhances your consumption experience and lends more meaning to your collection. Knowing your artist also helps avoid being taken advantage of. Pricing is transparent and trustworthy, you know your stones have been mindfully sourced, and the metals are genuine and high quality.