Not sure if this has been posted before, but I hadn't seen it ...BETTY BADD'S JEWELRY TAKES OVER NASHVILLE
By Stephanie Stewart
January 1, 2009
Yes, her name really is Betty Badd. Well, OK, it’s Beatriz Malo, but Malo (her last name by marriage) means “bad” in Spanish, and her father called her Betty from birth.
Cuban-born and Miami-raised (her father’s Cuban and her mother’s American), Malo came to Nashville 15 years ago with her husband, musician Raul Malo of The Mavericks.
An artist all her life, painting at home while raising her three boys, she shifted her focus to fashion after trying her metal-foil and oil painting technique successfully on leather, hand-painting and gilding it with gold, platinum and silver.
This led to her first line of accessories, and now her creations are worn by a huge number of celebrities including Justin Timberlake, Outkast, Jamie Foxx, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood and Sheryl Crow.
In three short years she’s grown a small, boutique, one-woman business into an operation represented in major retailers large and small across the nation.
Currently she works out of a large studio in a converted industrial building on Chestnut Street.
“The best thing about this studio is that it’s the only one in the whole building that has a bathroom of its own,” she says when I meet her for the interview.
It’s like stepping into a fantasy world: she’s hand-painted all the doors and her metal foil and oil paintings hang on the walls amid an assortment of built-in shelves that have been turned into mini-shrines both spiritual and secular. No one can accuse her of trying to tamp down her naturally exotic aesthetic.
She still does the exquisite gilded leatherwork, but now there’s also a line of jewelry in precious metals, cultured pearls and semi-precious stones.
She combines a very contemporary rock ‘n’ roll feel with elements of Cuba in its heyday in the 1950s and a touch of Eastern sensibility.
The resulting line is both unusual and striking. She loves layering pieces—multiple necklaces, yes, but also layers of anklets in semi-precious stones, an abundance of bracelets in the Cuban fashion, and the particularly popular hip chains that have taken off with both her celebrity and ordinary clientele.
She got her line started by taking her wares door-to-door along New York’s Fifth Avenue shops and boutiques (rather than shelling out the $15,000 it takes to do one of the major trade shows), carrying herself as if money wasn’t an issue.
Fortunately, high-end retailers loved her and her rock-star aura, and before long she was supplying boutiques everywhere.
By last year, she was named MTV’s best new designer at the Magic trade show in Las Vegas.
In the midst of her growing success, she’s taking the time to rebrand the line to underscore her Cuban origins.
She’s got new cigar-style labels and packaging, bringing to mind Cuba’s most iconic export. “Cuba has a mystique, and the new packaging takes our rock ‘n’ roll image to a new level of sophistication,” Malo says with pride.
Still, she remains aware that Nashville, from the lifestyle to the music industry, has also had a huge impact on her life and career.
“If we’d stayed in Miami, I don’t know where I’d be creatively,” she says.
“Nashville’s made it easy for me to climb up. There’s a hunger here for style and culture that’s been developing for the past ten years, and I’m lucky enough to have been part of that. I can sit and reflect in peace and tranquility here, but I can also climb the economic ladder. For a woman—and a mother—that’s very important.”
Malo’s definitely climbing some ladders, and reaching the top.
With intricate designs visible on the Nashville and Hollywood elite and, increasingly, on ordinary people in the know, there’s no doubt she’s having an impact.
Her next big-time goal? To have the first major fashion show in a Castro-free Cuba.
No small feat, but there’s no question she has the force of will to pull it off.