While many of us enjoy collecting shells from the shoreline and placing them around our homes as decoration, Chaymaa Cheta has turned this into her brand, Concho, by creating home décor, jewelry and accessories from seashells and fossils found in seas and oceans. A few months ago, she started selling her pieces online.
Ten years ago, Cheta created décor using what the sea throws away, starting with a mirror for the bathroom. “More untouched, virgin areas are home to rare shellfish, especially on the coast of The Red Sea,” she mentioned.
Cheta also collects shellfish from different countries whenever she travels, her favorite being the Far East as there are beautiful carved shells derived from their oceans, which provide a different variety than the seas.
Originally a pastel artist, Cheta decided to focus her artwork on conchology. In order to do so, she read through specialized dictionaries to learn more about the different types of shells and fossils available in the waters, and where they can be found.
“Both the Pharaonic and Chinese civilizations inspire me as they have a particular color scheme and spirit that reflects their history,” she mentioned when asked about her inspiration.
“I love recycling, and so I never throw anything away, whether stones, shells or textiles, and I use all of these in my pieces. I also love mixing flowers with shells, as they compliment each other really well,” she explained. “I use micro shells that are one millimeter in size as they are great in accessories,” Cheta added.
Concho now includes beach footwear and bags, as per people’s recommendations. “I began creating more practical pieces, as that is what my customers are usually looking for in order to further expand my brand. Even though I like everything in its natural form, I experiment by painting on shells to present a larger variety of artwork,” Cheta explained.
In Marsa Allam, there is a shell known as the “Gibberulus” that is very rare worldwide but is found in great quantities on virgin shores here. “I would love to export this shellfish abroad, and mention that it is found here in Egypt. It is a beautiful shell that does not break easily and has a natural red color on the back,” she concluded.