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Behind The Crystal Curtain:
Our Q&A With Designer Lisa-Marie Schneider

Lisa-Marie Schneider is a South African model and actress, but it’s her crystal jewelry and bag designs that are also catching eyes.

Her Cape Town-made creations, made under her Lalimalu label, are earthy and unique while capturing the feel-good spirit and organic beauty of her home continent.

In the following interview, Lisa talks about her successful modeling career, her colorful inspirations, and her delightful designs.

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Lisa-Marie Schneider; Image Courtesy of Photographer Grit Siwonia

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1. Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Cape Town, South Africa, at 10:30 pm on the eve of Dec 4th, 1980.

I come from a pretty normal South African family. I think when I arrived, my mother knew she was in for a ride. I have always been labeled the eccentric, flamboyant one.

Dance was my first love of expression, of which I started at a very young age. I was in a contemporary dance company as a teenager and danced at the Edinburgh Festival as one of the soloists in the company.

A serious injury caused me to hold back on my dance career and I was scouted shortly after by Boss Models and began my career as a model and left the nest early to pursue this career.

Modeling allowed me the opportunity of  living abroad for roughly 15 years in many different countries, from London to Milan, Paris, New York City, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Sydney, and traveling to exotic lands, where few humans have ever been.

Modeling never suited my personality and took me to some dark places, all of which I am able to see now, and the gifts it has brought me. I believe that only through the shadows, can true lightness of being be seen and felt.

In my mid-twenties my love for acting grew and it was something that I needed to explore. In 2003, I enrolled myself in a theatre school in SA.

I got my theatre degree in performance art in 2005. Since then I have made five films and a TV series. The last three years I took a break to develop Lalimalu, a passion project that has turned into a whirlwind adventure. I am blessed to be shipping to over 12 different countries now and have it so well received already, and it’s only the beginning…

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Image Courtesy of Photographer Grit Siwonia

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2. Why did you become a designer?

I didn’t decide to become a designer, I think my soul decided for me… It’s a beautiful story, this one. On one of my return visits back to Cape Town, I went to see a soul sister and that night I was bitten by a black widow and went to hospital shortly after, in a terrible condition and close to death.

I went to see a sangoma (an african witch doctor) who imparted incredible wisdom to me and told me that I was soon to experience a massive surge of creativity following this. I spent many months in bed recovering, as it was so severe, and I started making jewelry to cure my boredom. Soon after, Lalimalu was born.

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3. Who are your influences? Who inspires you?

Celestial beings of the Pleiadian collective, my guides, mermaids, vikings, Egyptian goddesses, Mother Aya, Nils Frahm, African Qqueens, Alice in Wonderland, Rumi.

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4. Why did you choose to design crystal jewelry and accessories?

I have been fascinated by crystals and collecting them since I was a child, and eventually when I started meditating with them and “listening” to them, I began to feel their different vibrations.

My intuition led me to develop a range that put these different vibrations together in such a way that could create healing within the individual and at the same time something uber-stylish for the wearer.

I’ve always loved women’s handbags, (I had a full collection of vintage handbags from all my travels) and am interested by the construction of them. Combinations of textiles and colors also excite me tremendously.

I was looking for a bag one day with tassels and couldn’t find one I liked anywhere, so I decided to just design one. This piece has been a great success and I am currently working on my second design to add to my ever growing collection.

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Image Courtesy of Photographer Melissa Cucci

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5. Where do you get your ideas?

I believe I am a purely a conduit of ecstatic energy that flows through me and the designs that follow this usually come when I’m in meditation, doing ecstatic dance, in camel position in yoga, walking in the woods, watching awe-inspiring films, listening to powerful emotionally-charged music. The ever-changing colors of nature inspire my palette and the ever changing shapes of sacred geometry inspire my construction including the beautiful female form.

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6. As a model, what were a few of your most favorite shoots?

Probably the Cavalli campaign that I shot at Cavalli’s house in Florence. I have an affinity to big cats, and they brought a tiger to be in one of the shots.  I was in awe of the whole experience being so close to something so powerful and beautiful.

My shoots with David LaChapelle were some of the most animated and colorful sets I had ever been on. I wish I could climb into that man’s brain. He has such a vast imagination.

Shooting the Guess campaign in Hollywood and “The Face” with Ellen von Unwerth were also very memorable moments for me as a model.

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7. Do you think Richard Avedon’s Japan shoot for Vogue is the greatest fashion shoot ever? If not, what is your favorite — or some of your favorite — all-time fashion magazine spread/s? We’re big Avedon fans, we also think Nastassja Kinski’s python pose is epic!

I hadn’t seen this, until now, and I have to agree I think this is definitely one of the most incredible shoots I have ever seen!!!

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8. Your career aside, name your favorite… fashion magazine, fashion photographer, and fashion model. Feel free to elaborate.

My favourites have to be Tank magazine which I shot a few times for. David LaChapelle as the fashion photographer and probably Kate Moss as my favourite model.

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9. As an actress, what was your most favorite role?

I shot a movie in the slums of Johannesburg called “Lullaby” opposite the Oscar-winning actress Melissa Leo, in which I played a pregnant prostitute with a drug addiction, my most challenging and rewarding role yet. I was nominated for this movie as best supporting actress at an LA film festival, which was pretty special.

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Image Courtesy of Photographer Grit Siwonia

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10. Silly question here, but what’s it like being in a movie? How is it seeing yourself on the screen?

I don’t particularly like watching myself on camera, I end up criticizing my performance too much, thinking I could have done things differently.

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11. What Hollywood or foreign movie can you watch over and over again?

W./E., Cloud Atlas and True Romance.

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12. What’s it like starting a business in Cape Town? Any suggestions or tips for people wanting to start their own venture there?

U need a lot of patience haaaaa, things here happen on “Africa time” and if you are used to things getting done fast, don’t open a business here. Lol.

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13.  What should women look for in a piece of jewelry? A bag?

I believe quality is everything, and attention to detail. I believe jewelry is more personal than perhaps choosing a handbag.

I’m big on comfort and encourage those to choose pieces that  allow movement and expression of self, not necessarily following a trend. As a truth seeker, I always love to wear something that has come from a place of purpose, has little or no impact on earth’s footprints, and comes with a beautiful story.

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Image Courtesy of Photographer Grit Siwonia

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14. Why should a person buy one of your designs?

I hope to take you out of your mind in the best possible way, to another realm of beauty and explore a different realm of possibility.

If you are looking for something that not only that has the beauty of ancient pieces collected from the African continent but exudes an intense crystal healing energy ( all my jewelry is made to the sounds of mantras ) then this is for you.

I hope to transform lives with all those who wear my pieces, one piece at a time.

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15. What are your most favorite travel destinations?

Madagascar, Bali, and Paris.

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16. What was your most favorite holiday?

The concept of what a holiday means to me, is taking a break from the world we live in. The most extreme holiday I had was to AfrikaBurn this year.

It was the first time I have ventured out without my phone or purse, and to have this liberating feeling combined with such a profound level of human connection without any of these tools was the pure freedom that every holiday should be about.

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Image Courtesy of Photographer Grit Siwonia

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17.  What is your most favorite outfit (currently and all-time)?

My crystal jewelry or body pieces over a simple frock in combo with my warrior bag and my new lavender locks.

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18. What are five items you always pack for vacation/holiday?

My iPhone,my crystals, a moleskin, headphones, and lavender oil.

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19. What is something that most people don’t know about you?

That I’m not actually human, that I come from the star galaxy the Pleiades : )

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To learn more about Lisa and her exciting designs, please visit her official site, www.Lalimalu.com.

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Lead-In Image Courtesy of Photographer Grit Siwonia; All Other Images Courtesy of Grit Siwonia, Photographer Melissa Cucci,  and Lalimalu