About Jeannie McQueeny
Colour and light are a part of my DNA. I was lucky enough to be born in the beautiful Bahamas, and to grow up with a beach as a playground. Being a tomboy meant that I preferred climbing trees and swimming to spending hours fussing over my wardrobe. However, running along the sea shore, and sitting in those leafy branches allowed me to absorb glorious colours that were drenched in brilliant Bahamian sun light. It probably also helped that despite my preference for kite flying or fishing with my father, my glamorous grandmother and mother continuously tried to instil a sense of fashion in my rebellious heart.
Marriage took me to annual stints in Gstaad in the Swiss Alps, another place noted for its natural beauty and glorious light. This fascination with radiance and colour led me to the mesmerising world of gemstones and to creating jewelry that translated easily from one resort to another. When friends began to request similar pieces from me, I formed Jeannie McQueeny.
Life in these exceptional resorts remains elegant and energetically relaxed. Components that I hope are reflected in Jeannie McQueeny designs. Certainly the jewellery was a marvelous segue into the fantastic adventure that led to traveling to Kathmandu in the Himalayas to work with my very talented friend, Rajni.
We met by quite by chance in London. We were both exhibiting at a mutual friend’s exclusive, annual Christmas show. Rajni was showing her exquisite, hand made embroidery, and I was showing my jewelry. A series of intriguing conversations led to my cheeky suggestion that she create a linen kaftan for me, incorporating some gorgeous embroidery embellished with real coral branches and freshwater pearls.
The result was such a stunningly perfect example of what women want to wear at sunny, elegant resorts, but can’t easily find that I had immediate requests from friends and shops for copies, which is how the jewelry line morphed into Jeanie McQueeny and an exciting collaboration that’s been going on for over 12 years. Like the jewellery before it, the clothing line incorporates things that are true: real fabrics (silks, linen, cotton, cashmere), refined, hand embroidered designs, oftentimes with gemstones, and always a lot of life enhancing colours, beauty and light.
The thought that I travel on a regular basis from the one of the lowest points on earth, to one of the highest, to work with a friend and a team of people whom I treasure, has always been a source of astonished delight. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Because so many of Jeannie McQueeny’s designs and colours reflect the sea, our give back is BREEF – Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation – (breef.org) which strives to educate teachers, students and the general public about the fragility and importance of reef systems, and fisheries in the Bahamas and beyond. For the past 25 years it has also successfully lobbied the government of the Bahamas to set aside vital Marine Protected Areas, shark sanctuaries and closed seasons for endangered species like the Nassau Grouper.
It gave me a huge sense of pride a few years ago to be involved in the creation of the Sir Nicholas Nuttall Undersea Sculpture Park, which features the often filmed, colossal, Ocean Atlas by Jason deCaires Taylor as well major sculptures by Willicey Tynes and Andret John, along with a wonderful trail of Reef Balls that provide a home for reef fish. Our latest venture is the creation of a nursery for baby corals.