Onetribe Organics founder Jared Karnes at his Manchester showroom. Photo by Isaac Harrell
An array of tribal antiquities dating back 3,000 years glistens in display cases on the second-floor showroom of Onetribe Organics' 4,600-square-foot studio in Manchester. The collection, which includes Aztec jade ear flares and ancient African labrets, shares space with a library of anthropological texts about ancient body jewelry and books on modern body modification.
"Part of the mission of this company is to teach people about the roots of body modification," founder Jared Karnes says of the handcrafted body-jewelry company he started almost 10 years ago in the basement of a communal house in Chesterfield County. Today, the business employs five local artisans and operates a fair-trade production workshop in Bali, Indonesia.
The 29-year-old, who has 1 1/2–inch plugs in his ear lobes, a labret below his lip and dreadlocks that extend to his waist, became interested in body modification as a boy when he discovered his grandfather's collection of National Geographic magazines. "I took a liking to the aesthetic of stretched lobes and stretched lips," Karnes recalls.
Onetribe Organics uses only natural materials, including more than 50 varieties of jade, warthog ivory and exotic woods, to create jewelry that sells for prices ranging from $25 to $1,300.
While more than 90 percent of his business comes from the company's e-commerce site, Karnes says he particularly enjoys working with local customers. "We can sit down with them, pull out materials and talk about exactly what they want," he says.
The 211 W. Seventh St. showroom's grand opening will be held on June 15 and 16. For more information, call 230-4480 or visit onetribe.nu .