If you’re a reader of fashion blogs, you’ve most likely come across Loren Hope jewelry in your internet explorations. The baubles in this line are colorful, sparkly and have an art deco feel — what’s not to love? We sat down with Loren Barham, the founder and designer behind Loren Hope to learn more about her creative process and the reasons she keeps her line USA-made. And of course she shared her favorite ways to stay sparkly! Read on to get to know more about Loren and to see the beautiful images from her new lookbook.
When and why did you decide to start Loren Hope?
I started Loren Hope in November of 2005. I was living in the UK with my husband Aaron, who was then in the US Air Force and stationed at Lakenheath AFB. I had just left college, where I studied Fine Arts, and I was anxious to stay creative. I decided to start Loren Hope Designs as a way to make some extra money while also being able to satisfy my creative itch. I have always loved jewelry and I have dabbled in making jewelry my entire life, so it just felt right.
What inspired your Fall 2013 look book?
I knew I wanted it to have a mid-century vibe with simple, yet feminine clothing, paired with masculine accents in the props and decor. Because the collection was inspired by the cosmos, our stylist Sara Kate Huff brought a slew of trinkets and art that captured that vibe: a top with crescent moons, a blazer with stars printed on the lining, a vintage 50’s tree ornament that looked like a starburst. I wanted it to feel curious and moody, yet on trend, intelligent and relevant to our customer.
When did you first start designing jewelry?
I started designing around the age of 14. My grandmother owned a huge thrift store in Benson, NC. She would let me go through piles and piles of old jewelry and take pieces that I wanted. I would bring them home, take them apart, and restring the beads into bracelets and necklaces that I would bring to school and give to my friends.
What inspires you when designing new pieces?
Each season is different. I am extremely curious about the world, and am fascinated by nature, history and art. My Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 collections were both inspired by the Art Deco period. This most recent season was inspired by the cosmos. My design process is very organic and I follow my instincts.
What other jewelry brands are your inspirations?
I am a huge fan of vintage jewelry! Some of my favorite designers are Juliana by Delizza & Elster, Larry Vrba, Schiaparelli, Weiss and Hobe.
What is your favorite collection that you’ve ever designed and why?
Hands down the current line: Fall/Winter 2013. Not only do I feel that it is a testament to how much I have evolved as a designer over the years, but the inspiration behind the collection was very personal to me. It’s also the first collection I designed in our Rhode Island studio (we moved from NC back in February), which was a huge milestone for the company.
You manufacture all of your jewelry in the US. Can you tell us why it is important to keep it local?
I feel very blessed to have been born in a country where as a young woman, I can pursue my passion and make my dreams a reality. Rhode Island has a rich history in jewelry manufacturing and I love being fully immersed in it here. America was once a leader in manufacturing and innovation, and I truly believe we can keep that alive. Slowly but surely more companies are starting to bring their manufacturing back. I feel a great sense of pride knowing that we are supporting the local economy by employing American workers and supporting local, family owned companies.
You use a lot of color in your designs. How do you choose color palettes each season?
I follow my instincts. I’m a huge fan of color, and in fashion we are always looking for something fresh and exciting. I think I naturally gravitate towards colors that we haven’t seen in a while in the fashion scene. For example this season I embraced shades of purple and the use of iridescent rhinestones.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Honestly every day is so different. We are a fairly small team so I wear a lot of hats. From designing, to sourcing, and scouting for raw materials like vintage stones and interesting findings, to checking on our staff to make sure they have the tools they need, I do it all. I also oversee our marketing. The list goes on. It’s a lot to juggle but it makes every day an adventure!
Any advice for women entrepreneurs?
I would say to stay true to yourself and trust your gut. When you are feeling down or inadequate (we all have those days), just remember that you cannot move mountains overnight, and that with every step forward you are closer to meeting your goals. Take it one day at a time and always remember to tell yourself, “I am enough.” Also, be nice! It’s amazing how far a smile can take you.
How do you sparkle?
Because I’m constantly using hand tools and handling machinery and metal parts with prongs, my hands suffer a lot of wear and tear. Nothing makes me sparkle like a fresh gel manicure!