Since January 2017, I’ve received emails from the Loren Hope team about her collection. Every piece of correspondence would talk about the brand, feature lookbooks, and showcase photos from her beautiful line (i.e. colorful earrings and necklaces).
While I loved her collection from the start, it never really worked out to pull pieces. Or, tbh, I’d just forget to respond to the emails. For years, I’d check out her website and save styles. But in the end, her team would email, time would pass by, and I’d forget to respond.
More than two years later, I’d receive an email from Loren herself. Her correspondence was thoughtful and very personalized to me. I could tell this wasn’t a blanketed email she shared with 20,000 bloggers. Instead, it was written in a way that I knew she put a lot of time into customizing the correspondence. This time, I was determined to respond and try to make up for lost time. So I pitched her an idea…
“What if I came to Newport to see your design studio, meet your team, and experience your hometown through a different lens?” I went on to explain my vision of an experience that would offer a more authentic view of her collection. Not just an unboxing video or a handful of samples sent to me for a few outfit posts. I wanted to truly understand her business and background. A few days later, she responded… “Yes!” And we were off to the races…
Sometimes, I believe it’s a blogger’s job to come to the table with a good idea. Frankly, the idea. After the trip, Loren said the reason she agreed to my idea was because she knew the intention behind my concept was pure and above all – was professional. I took a LOT of time to write out an email that made sense and explained the WHY I was coming up with the concept.
Also, to be clear – I didn’t ask for compensation for the trip or coverage. In fact, we didn’t even have a contract. While 99.9% of the time I always have a paper trail, this trip was a handshake between two business partners. I knew she would hold up her end of the bargain, and it made me love her line and brand even more.
Our Newport Trip
In the coming weeks, I’m going to do a larger recap of our experience and trip to Newport. At first, I thought about combining all photos and details into one larger blog post, but we ended up getting SO much great content that we have to separate them into two.
Today’s post is really to have you get to know Loren and the Loren Hope brand.
Loren Barham of Loren Hope
Since 2005, Loren launched her jewelry collection from her kitchen table in the UK. She was an Air Force wife (her husband, Aaron, is awesome BTW), and was getting a bit bored on the base. As an alumna of an arts university, Loren was looking for ways to stretch her creative muscle. Therefore, she grabbed some loose gemstones and started making things. Loren Hope was born.
As soon as I met Loren, I immediately knew we’d be friends. Sure, we had DM’d a bunch, emailed back and forth, and really got to know each other online. However, you never really know if you’re going to connect with someone in-person. After stepping foot into her store in Newport, it felt like we’d known one another for years.
She has this effortless ease about her – not to mention a very clear eye for great design and color combinations. I could have spent all day just sitting around chatting with her. What struck me most is her passion for Rhode Island’s history in the costume jewelry space, and also her clear vision for the Loren Hope brand.
Additionally, I am especially impressed that Loren Hope jewelry is 100% made in the USA and a female-owned and operated business/brand. She’s worked incredibly hard to balance the retail and wholesale sides of her business and continues to make it look graceful and frankly – easy!
I sat down with Loren to ask her some questions about her journey to date, and where she plans to take the business from here…
How has your business evolved since launching it?
Well, for one, the jewelry itself is much better quality! I would say the biggest difference from then until now is how sure I am of myself and my aesthetic. When I was first starting out, it was mostly experimenting with lots of different ideas and just using my hands. Over time, my work has evolved to have a very specific, I think recognizable look and feel that is quintessentially “Loren Hope.”
What’s been your favorite part of owning your own business?
The unpredictability of where it can lead you (which don’t get me wrong, can also be stressful!). I have met some incredible people along the way and sometimes find myself saying “how in the world did I end up here?” You never know when an opportunity is going to come your way, and then you have the power to say yes or no to it.
What are some of your favorite styles from the collection (I know this is hard!)?
The most recent collection – I’d have to say the Begonia Earrings. They are like a party on your ears… they dance and move and have these intense bursts of color. I also love the new hair accessories! The Parker Headband is basically a crown and I’m here for it. I also love the Emily Cluster Studs – they are the sweetest little clusters with so many beautiful colors and textures in the stones.
When did you decide to move from East Greenwich to Newport?
We decided we wanted to have a retail component to our business last year. We’ve tossed around the idea for a few years but last year we decided it was necessary. We knew if we were going to expand into retail in Rhode Island, that we wanted to be in Newport. The history in this city is incredible, with it being the 2nd largest wedding destination in the country, we are able to work with brides one-on-one for a truly unique experience.
Why do you love Newport? What makes it special and different?
So many things! The history for one – some of the oldest buildings and establishments in the country! (The Redwood Atheneum is the oldest community library in it’s original building, and the White Horse Tavern is the oldest pub in the country.) The mansions on Bellevue are steeped in opulence and stories. History aside, how about the ocean crashing against beautiful cliffs, charming lighthouses, hydrangeas in bloom and amazing seafood.
I love your use of color in your designs. What made you fall in love with color?
I have been creating art since I was 3 years old. I grew up in the country in a house that is tucked away in the woods with a natural spring. I spent many afternoons walking around barefoot in nature and I have felt a deep connection to nature my entire life. The colors and the combinations found in nature provide constant inspiration for me.
Tell me more about the jewelry workshops and classes you’ll be offering soon.
We are so excited! We just finished up our mosaic and have set up our classroom. The back room on the first floor will serve as a space where we plan to host gatherings where groups can come in and try their hand and jewelry design – from learning how to set stones, to special themed workshops, we are going to have a robust offering of different classes so everyone else can experience and share my addiction to sparkly gems.
How do you try to stand out in a crowded market and industry?
I have really worked on not comparing the brand other other brands, and just letting it live it’s own life, if that makes sense. We are who we are, and we are unapologetically colorful, bold and feminine. I also believe that because we produce all of our pieces rather than outsourcing to overseas or a third party manufacturer, we are able to oversee our quality which sets our pieces apart from everything else you see on the market. There’s a look and feel to our work that is distinct.
What’s one thing you wish people understood about your business?
That it’s not always sparkles and rainbows. Running a creative company is hard work, and with retail changing as quickly as it is, it’s constant creating new designs and fresh content so that we can stay in front of our audience and keep them engaged!
From what you were sharing with us, Rhode Island has an extensive history with costume jewelry. Will you walk us through some of it?
Rhode Island was once considered the jewelry capital of the world, creating 80% of the world’s costume jewelry, and employing nearly 25,000 people. It was once a 1.5 billion dollar industry for the state, and the largest manufacturing industry in the state. Some of the best costume jewelry has come out of Rhode Island, such as Monet, Trifari, Coro and Hobe. It is our mission to celebrate the heritage of Rhode Island’s jewelry history, while also keeping it alive by supporting local vendors and by using the techniques for traditional costume jewelry.
What’s next for Loren Hope?
We just finished up a huge, 6ft wide jeweled mosaic of a leopard surrounded by flowers to hang in our flagship store, and then our butterfly series has been gaining a lot of interest and momentum, so I’m really looking forward to continuing to push ourselves creatively and take on more art projects!
Stay tuned for more about Loren Hope, our trip to Newport, and some exciting news to come!
Thank you to Loren Hope for sponsoring our trip. While we were not paid, our travel expenses were covered. Partnerships like these make Style Charade possible.