By Frances Figart
If you meet jewelry artist Suzanne “Q” Evon at the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands or at the Annual Q Evon Holiday Sale at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel, you might think this graceful, tall redhead with the ‘come hither’ grin looks somehow familiar, like you’ve seen her all your life.
That’s because you have. For several years, she was the sexy blonde draped across billboards touting Johnny Walker Scotch. She was the spokesperson for Dove Soap and for Clairol’s ‘Nice ‘n Easy’ hair color and had fashion contracts with Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. Though her home base is in Western North Carolina, she has fans on several continents—particularly in New York City where she is part of the annual Grand Central Holiday Market—and they all know her simply as Q.
“As a commercial model, I was traveling all over the world and lived in several countries for an extended period of time,” she says. “It took me a long time to realize that my designs were completely influenced by the impressions, tastes and textures of those travels.” Growing up in Michigan, Q sold her first piece of jewelry in the first grade. Though she never studied art while at university, she was continually creating beaded assembly pieces and, when in the US, prioritized taking classes such as metal jewelry fabrication at Parsons School of Design in New York City.
When she finally turned her passion into a fulltime business, Q Evon Design, in 1996, the press took notice. Her first wholesale collection won two first place jewelry industry design awards and contracts with the Sundance jewelry catalog. The celebrity status she built as a model was helping to propel her successfully into the world of art and design.
The Q Evon Design production lines are sterling silver, colored gemstones and 18-karat vermeil. Q’s Signature fine jewelry collection is 14-karat gold, sterling, colored gemstones and diamonds. While some are limited production, the majority of these pieces are unique.
“I decided to brand my business as the jewelry equivalent of a boutique hotel,” says Q. “I did not want to mass-produce and I wanted to be able to create special one-of-a-kind pieces.”
This year, after almost four years of design development, she signed contracts with Luxury Cruise Lines. She spent most of this past summer on ships in Europe focusing on training and selling in the jewelry stores at sea.
Once again sought after for her natural good looks and comfort in front of the camera, in tandem with the cruise-line gig, Q has been tapped for a series of short travel pilots with the working title: Following Q. “It’s about how my travels around the world and interaction with other cultures have affected my design path,” she says. “Although I am a bit rusty, being able to walk and talk on camera is coming in handy.”
The tour and filming will begin in the Caribbean and South America next month. Though Q is being marketed as ‘the rock star of the seas,’ she takes it all in stride.
“Travel has always been the inspiration for my designs and it is fun having it now documented. This past June, the passengers would see me filming in the ports and would assume I was ‘somebody.’ That night in the jewelry store they would come in and ask for my autograph. I thought it very funny that one week I was signing autographs in France and the next I was home in Reems Creek cleaning my bathroom.”
Q says her design ideas often come from unexpected sources. While in Barcelona, she thought she would find inspiration in Gaudi’s work, but instead Gothic architecture filled the pages of her notebook.
“I was on the ship and awoke one morning to see a big rock outside the terrace of my cabin. I had forgotten we would be arriving in Gibraltar! I spent the entire late afternoon watching the light change on the rock and seeing new shapes. I tried to capture them with my camera.” She likens this energetic space of creating to “a state of grace where everything in my world is open and flowing.”
For Q, part of that creative flow is interacting with those who appreciate her work. Right now, she’s doing this in New York City. “Our little store in Grand Central Terminal is an amazing experience,” she says. “We test new designs and I get the chance to talk to thousands of people. All of them have their own stories.”
Q will return from New York to Asheville for her 12th Annual Q Evon Holiday Sale at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel where you can meet her in person December 9–11.
“I think this is the decade where I am in the sweet spot of my career, when all of my training and skills sets are coming together,” she says. “I have a phenomenal staff in the studio and I could not do any of this without a great team. ‘It takes a village’ has taken on a whole new meaning in the last few years.”
Find Her Work
Q’s Signature fine jewelry collection is sold at Alexander and Lehnert in the Grove Arcade. Her sterling and semi-precious gemstone lines are carried by Allanstand at the Folk Art center on the Blue Ridge Parkway and at Woolworth Walk and Bellagio in Asheville. Q’s work is also available at Miya Gallery in Weaverville and Jeweler’s Workbench in Waynesville.
December 9–11 12th
Annual Q Evon Holiday Sale
Renaissance Asheville Hotel
Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 12-4 p.m. “We clear out all discontinued production lines, seconds and sample lines at 40–50 percent. It tends to be quite busy and very few men are brave enough to fight their way into that crowd of women.”
Through December 24
Grand Central Holiday Market
New York City
If you find yourself in NYC this month, find Q in Vanderbilt Hall in the Grand Central Terminal, right off the ticket lobby and 42nd street. The store is open seven days a week from November 14 through December 24.
The studio for Q Evon Design is located in Reems Creek just outside Weaverville and is open by appointment. Learn more at qevon.com, by calling 828.645.3842 or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.