I met Ytala Chacon in line for dinner at the Eddie Aikau ceremony at Waimea Bay. I could hardly understand what she was saying as she quickly switched back and forth between Spanish and English as part of carrying on two separate conversations with me and my friend from Uruguay. To say she has spark is not enough; more like lightening in a bottle. She has an infectious smile and one cannot help but get caught up in her joy.
Discovering that Ytala translates her love of life into beautiful handcrafted jewelry was a wonderful surprise. As promised, I found her mobile jewelry store van parked at Sunset Beach, where you can find her most days. I spent hours culling through her treasures from intricate silver work to colorful macramé and simple found items on waxed cord. The craftsmanship in her metalwork is remarkable. Even more so that Ytala has translated ancient Inca patterns and design into her contemporary pieces.
Ytala is from Peru. She came to Hawaii to explore and soon found that it felt like home. Five years later, she has settled in the North Shore and is a member of a vibrant craft community there. Ytala says she is inspired by Jesus “…because I love the beautiful message of peace and harmony he brings… and Mother Earth because all what we have around are coming from her and all is wonderful. I want be a good person for in this world and help Mother Earth to continue in balance.” When I asked if she had a mission with her life and jewelry, she said she’s still working on it. In the meantime, she’s collecting a lifetime of experiences.
Ytala’s treasures come from her hunts along the beach and hikes into the mountains. Her collection includes crystals, ammonite, amber, and sunrise shells, fossilized clam, and amethyst… the trove is unique and plentiful. While I won’t share her secret spots, Ytala knows exactly where to find O’ahu’s most special gifts. She points to a place by the palms for the sunrise shells that are her most popular item and tells me of a spot where she finds the miter shells she wraps in delicate macramé nests. She pulls out drawers of rarer finds she has unearthed like fossilized pink dolphin from Peru and thousand-year-old sharks’ teeth she found in a high desert in South America. I want all of them.
As I am shopping many tourists come by. Ytala takes time to find out where each visitor is from and to ask them about their trip. She tells the stories of her treasures and thoughtfully suggests the perfect pieces. Guests form Japan, Australia, South Africa, and Brazil have all stopped by during my browse. The interactions delight Ytala and she exchanges phone numbers and emails with many of her new friends. I asked her about her favorite people and memories in O’ahu and she said it was too chard to choose. “I’ve had thousands of good moments with many beautiful souls”, she said.
If you can’t make it to the North Shore (you really should), you can find Ytala’s jewelry online at LoveMyTreasures.com.