Equestrian artisan and entrepreneur, Jeni Benos, of Jenuinely Jeni Inc. created a striking pendant to honor her great grandmother, Angeliki. Learning about the many hardships her great grandmother faced throughout her life inspired Jeni to focus her artistic efforts to honor Angeliki’s memory and ultimately help to fight abuse.
In designing the Angeliki necklace Jeni set out to create something both beautiful and compelling to honor her great grandmother properly. She also made the decision upfront to donate 100% of the profits from the sales of the pendant to women’s charities. A considerable amount of thought went into each aspect of the design with meaning behind every element included.
The only thing that Jeni knew her great grandmother truly loved was riding horses. Riding was something she did frequently while growing up in Greece on a small family farm. Therefore the decision to use a horse to represent her seemed quite fitting.
The sterling silver mare has the bold roached mane of a warhorse to embody strength and empowerment. The texture of her mane mimics the rays of a rising sun in hopes for a brighter future for women in need. Her mouth is open to encourage those who find themselves in abusive situations to speak out.
The graceful folk art pattern adorning the design is reminiscent of art in the old world where she spent her childhood. Symbolically, Jeni set out to tell a story of strength over adversity. May Angeliki’s memory not only represent her personal struggles, but also the millions of women whose lives and oppression have been forgotten.
All of the profits from the Angeliki necklace are split between two charities. The first is local to the New River Valley where Jeni currently resides. The Women’s Resource Center of the NRV provides assistance at every level from education all the way up to legal assistance and shelter for those in times of crisis.
The second charity, Girls Not Brides encourages young girls and teens in underdeveloped countries to educate themselves and attempts to instill a sense of value and self worth. It also fights barbaric practices that involve kidnapping girls and forcing them into an early marriage. This is still more common than many people realize, just as it was when Angeliki was young and subjected to this herself.
Angeliki’s story begins in Greece where she grew up on a quaint farm in a small village. A local man wanted Angeliki as his wife and conspired with her sister to kidnap her. Her sister’s betrayal and her abduction naturally caused Angeliki’s reputation to be ruined and her fate was then sealed. She was only 15 years old when her life was abruptly changed forever. She was forced to marry this man, and was torn from her family and homeland to start a new life, not of her choosing, in America.
Angeliki was soon faced with many hardships and ongoing abuse. Any rational person clearly understands that kidnapping is an unimaginable trauma for a young girl. Even beyond the initial trauma, this heinous act ultimately robbed her of her future. It robbed her of her hopes, it robbed her of her dreams, and it robbed her of ever finding a truly loving relationship in her life. The details of Angeliki’s struggles naturally left Jeni revolted. Nothing can change the past or make it right.
However, in moving forward Jeni chose to channel her disgust over the situation into a constructive anger, a catalyst for an endeavor of great power and significance. Since the release of the pendant in August of 2016, Jeni has raised a substantial amount of money for the two charities! On a broader level, Jeni has found a tremendous sense of fulfillment in pursuing a project that can help to change lives. Every step in fighting abuse and unhealthy cultural mindsets is vitally important. On a personal level, Jeni is honored to bring about some truth and justice to Angeliki’s memory as she pays tribute to her great grandmother.
The Angeliki necklace can be purchased on Jeni’s website at www.jenuinelyjeni.com.