Art Activism with Jewelry Designer Oneka Ijeoma

April 17, 2013
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“Success is a progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.” – Earl Nightingale

Nigerian jewelry designer, Oneka Ijeoma, owner and CEO of King Onye Label located at 707 W. Armitage, is an artist entrepreneur with a heart for activism.

With her campaign, Speak Progress, the political science and sociology graduate combined her skill of design with a message of social responsibility.

She proclaims, “I am somebody who went to school to better the community.”

The Speak Progress campaign is an innovative initiative connecting her goal of obtaining funds to make her pop-up shop, a permanent storefront for her jewelry while also serving as a call-to-action for people to speak about “things in a progressive way.”

When designing, she shares, “I never sketch. I just feel and use materials that I have. I take my natural knowledge of life and things going on around the world and how that connects and create pieces that are sociological in nature.”

An in-depth observer of the universe, Oneka’s jewelry embodies an edgy-meets-royalty aesthetic with heavy sociological undertones. During her course of study, it dawned on her that with all she’s learned, in terms of social responsibility, there was no way she could move forward with design and neglect a calling for activism.

‘I personally feel that it is my calling. Attempting to escape from social responsibility is something that … I am no longer interested in doing.”

Society has been hit with a depressing epidemic of killing and the loss of youth. People are hurting. Violence is eliminating life.

Because of this, there a numerous campaigns targeted toward stopping the violence. Myself, along with two of my creative partners are pushing a visual campaign, ‘Don’t Kill My Chance’ to spark social awareness and others are intertwining their art for an identical cause.

Oneka designed  the ‘Bullet Branch’ necklace (top image), which symbolizes “life overcoming death”. The popular piece is made with frosted gold tree branches and a crystal in a bullet shell linked to a gold-plated chain. The décor sets a universal tone but resonates on a variety of levels for many she’s encountered.

King Onye Jewelry Designer, Oneka Ijeoma

The designer shares, “Most of the time, when I tell people what [the necklace] means, they give me their own story about what ever it is that they had to go through; whether it be depression, poverty, anything that they’ve had to overcome. What got me is that there were so many different kinds of people that reacted to it, that’s what I love about it.”

A recent instagram-er and owner of the ‘Bullet Branch’ commented that the necklace, “gives me strength.”

Oneka adds, “It doesn’t have anything to do with race, class and gender because this is a universal piece. This [was just] a tree branch and now it’s a necklace. I love being able to take something that everybody recognizes as one thing and then make it another thing.”

The jewelry designer and activist is excited when she’s able to  take things that are dead and bring them back to life. “I think there’s something about that, that makes sense. There’s something about the use of coins and things that represents value that just … I don’t know, it hits people hard and that’s why they react in a certain way.”

It’s Oneka’s craft and appreciation of even the most minute objects in life that illuminate and become her muse for design and message. Live a life that is of service, creativity and inspiration.





Speak Progress/Anti-Violence Fundraiser

707 W. Armitage

On Thursday, April 18, Oneka will be hosting her Speak Progress Campaign and Stop The Violence Fundraiser.  From 6-9pm, guests will be entertained with slam poetry, music, light appetizers and an open-discussion about violence in communities.

On display and for sale will be the signature, ‘Bullet Branch Necklace’ marked half-off for event attendees along with a variety of pieces in the store.





Bullet Branch Necklace, created by Oneka Ijeoma – King Onye Label
“Life Overcoming Death”

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