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8 Questions with Haverhill Leach

HAVERHILL LEACH

is the Cofounder and Creative Director of HAVERHILL Incorporated, a fine jewelry company with a bold sensibility. Haverhill founded the company in 2013 with her business partner, Alison Cariati. HAVERHILL is headquartered atFounders League in Providence, RI. Haverhill previously launched her own swimwear company in 2006 that graced the covers and editorial pages of several fashion magazines, including the centerfold of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue. Before she became an entrepreneur, she worked with several top fashion designers, including Mayle, Kate Spade, Vivienne Westwood, David Yurman and Joseph Abboud.

Q: TELL US ABOUT HAVERHILL. WHAT SETS IT APART FROM THE CROWD?

A: What sets us apart is our clean aesthetic. Because if you have really good quality you don’t need a lot of fuss. Take an 11-carat stone, for example. A lot of people would take that stone and make it super fancy. They would put diamonds around it or add floral details. But I just make it really clean and simple, so you can wear it every day. It’s bold and casual at the same time. The whole idea is that jewelry should be timeless. You should be able to pass it down. It should be versatile.

Q: YOU’RE CONSTANTLY ADDING NEW PIECES TO YOUR COLLECTION. HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT KINDS OF PIECES TO ADD?

A: When we’re developing our line we think about our customers first. We have a really diverse array of customers because our jewelry is so versatile. So we want to cover all the bases when we’re developing our collection. We look at our customers’ styles, ages, budgets, locations and backgrounds. And at our table at events, we want every woman to be represented. That philosophy helps us decide which pieces to add. We want our jewelry to be for everyone.

Right now we are trying to develop more unisex/men’s pieces as well as equestrian-style jewelry. We travel across the country doing all sorts of events, but we find ourselves becoming regulars at all these really cool, high-end equestrian events in places like Kentucky, the Hamptons and Palm Beach. So we get a lot of requests for equestrian jewelry and we also get a lot of requests for men’s jewelry.

I’m also working on manipulating some of our bestsellers. For example, the necklace I’m wearing incorporates parts from one of our earrings and one of our bracelets. I like to work with some of the things that are familiar to our customers and manipulate them, as well as doing new pieces and adding new colorways to existing styles. If we come up with a bracelet and try that out and it goes well, then the next season we’ll add earrings and a ring and necklace to go along with it.

Q: YOU LIKE TO SELL DIRECT RATHER THAN WHOLESALE. WHY?

A: One of the beauties of selling direct to our customers is that we get to meet them and see what they’re wearing. We have customers that are 8 and we have customers that are 98. We have customers that have a more glitzy, fabulous kind of a style and a lot customers who are “not jewelry people,” that think that because our jewelry is so simple it allows them to wear some jewelry without being over the top. We span so many different styles and we can see it when we meet them.

Q: YOU’VE DESIGNED EVERYTHING FROM SWIMWEAR AND HANDBAGS TO CLOTHING AND SHOES. WHY’D YOU START DESIGNING JEWELRY?

A: I knew in my gut that I wanted to do jewelry. Designing jewelry is like baking a cake. You put in the oven and when it comes out it’s like “Woah!” It’s so sparkly and shiny and beautiful.

And I love that it can fit anybody. I did swimwear for a while because I had already done handbags and clothing and shoes and I wanted to try something different. It was a great challenge and I had great success with it. But trying on bathings suits is a negative experience for a lot of women. So I wanted something a little more positive.

Jewelry fits that bill. It makes people so happy. It represents love. It represents big moments in people’s lives. It’s very personal because you wear it so close to your body. I love the idea of jewelry and I had such amazing resources here, so it seemed a waste not to give it a shot.

Q: IN 2006, YOU LEFT YOUR DESIGN JOB TO LAUNCH YOUR OWN COMPANY. WHY’D YOU TAKE THAT LEAP?

A: My last full-time design job was at Kate Spade in New York. Kate Spade’s husband, Andy Spade, said to me “You’re going to have your own design business someday where you can design whatever you want. I know you can do it.” I think every designer has the dream to have their own design company so they can have creative control. When you design for someone else, they have to edit it to be within their aesthetic. It was cool that at Kate Spade they said “Don’t worry about trying to look Kate Spade. Go crazy, do whatever you want, and we’ll work with you to edit it down.” But I think everyone has the dream to not have their work edited down.

After I worked for Kate Spade, I worked for a company called Mayle. At Mayle it was a much smaller business in NYC where I was in charge of all the handbags, from designing to production. I had to find the manufacturers. I had to find the leathers. I had to carry big skins of leather down the streets. So I learned at Mayle how to manage that whole side of production on my own, and it prepared me for having my own business

Q: HAVERHILL HAS BEEN HEADQUARTERED IN FOUNDERS LEAGUE SINCE 2013. WHY’D YOU CHOOSE A COWORKING SPACE?

A: I love the space. I love being here. Founders League is really supportive in so many ways. They’ve really helped us out a lot with our website and selling online. It’s just been great being a part of this little community. I love the energy. Instead of going to a quiet office, you always know people will be here. There’s the coffee, there’s the cute little square. It’s been wonderful.

Q: IT’S BEEN TEN YEARS SINCE YOU FOUNDED YOUR FIRST COMPANY. WHAT’S THE BEST LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED ALONG THE WAY?

A: The best thing to do is to have a business partner. You can’t do everything on your own. People think they can, but they can’t. The best thing to do is to find someone who has the strengths that you don’t. It just keeps things alive. Because if you’re alone you’re just managing so much. It doesn’t leave enough time for being creative. So I’m very blessed to have a business partner who handles all the things that I’m not so skilled at.

Q: YOU’VE LIVED ALL AROUND THE WORLD, FROM NYC AND LA TO LONDON AND PARIS. WHY’D YOU SETTLE DOWN IN PROVIDENCE?

A: This is the jewelry capital of America. If I was going to start a jewelry company, I had to start it here. I’m the fifth generation to do jewelry here. This is where all my contacts are. And I didn’t have the resources to do jewelry anywhere else.

Plus, there’s so much manufacturing that goes on here. Just a few blocks down, there’s the jewelry district. Providence has a long history of jewelry and hopefully it will continue. Because the quality that comes out of Providence is really superior.

And I love living in a small city. I like being a bigger fish in a small pond. I like how nice people are here. I like the architecture and the food. And I love being by the water. So I love it here. There’s much more of a sense of community than any other city I’ve ever lived in.

Want to learn more about HAVERHILL INC.?
Check them out at haverhillcollection.com

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