Designer Hailey Gerrits of Authentique Jewelry
If you ask anyone who owns a business, most would say that they do or would benefit greatly by working with a partner. Someone who fills in the blanks and gives strength to your business in places where you otherwise wouldn’t be able to. Being in the first couple years of starting her business Authentique Jewelry designer, Hailey Gerrits, knows this all too well. Between designing, manufacturing, sourcing, and working with her current vendors as well as partaking in most of this seasons trade shows, this girl seriously has her plate full! That being said, when I met with her to chat about her upcoming spring collection and what she is up to for the holidays, she came across humble and ready to take on whatever is to come next. You can check her out this weekend at the Make It Vancouver, but here is a little sneak peek into the life of the talented woman behind Authentique Jewelry.
How long have you been designing for?
I have been making jewelry since I was eight years old. My mom is an interior designer and has always been very creative. She encouraged a lot of crafting in our house. I always loved jewelry and made necklaces and earrings that she was forced to wear as my mama. Eventually it became a passion. I think she likes wearing them now. I officially started my business in 2011, but have been designing for as long as I can remember.
What is it about jewelry that inspires you to create?
I love the way that jewelry says something about you, the same way clothes or fashion do. What you choose to adorn yourself with and how you choose to do it. I love how jewelry can completely change an outfit and the way that it morphs itself. So many of my pieces, I think you can wear with blue jeans or a black dress. I love that.
Who do you design for?
Right now, I really love contrast. I love the idea of metal spikes with rhinestones, colors that clash, rough stones with smooth brass. To me, it reflects femininity. I think women are constantly forced to possess contrasting attributes – strength through beauty, power through elegance. I design for the women who are able to occupy that space in between.
How would you explain your aesthetic?
I always aim to bring out the beauty of the pieces I’m working with. Some of my materials are recycled vintage chains up to 100 years old. Others are semi-precious stones. Each piece is inspiring in its own right, but I like the idea of combining things that don’t seemingly go together. If a piece feels too soft, I always try to throw in a metal spike or a rough edged stone.
Do you design by collections/seasons or just go with the flow of creativity?
I always designed one of a kind pieces, and I still love to do this but as my business began to grow I found it very difficult to supply stores with pieces when they didn’t know what they would be receiving. For the first time this year, I designed collections for both Fall and Spring. It was a unique experience trying to design so many pieces at once and also to find a way for them to fit together, but I really enjoyed it. It also makes it much easier for me to provide quantity without me having to back to the drawing board each time. I still design one of a kinds, but on a smaller scale and usually by request for custom jobs.
What is your background?
I grew up in Summerland BC, in the Okanagan Valley. I moved to Vancouver when I was 17 years old to go to UBC and never left! I love living in the city for now, but definitely see myself going back to the Okanagan eventually.
Did you always dream of being a designer or did you ever have other career aspirations?
Definitely not. I never imagined this would be my career. I graduated from UBC with a History and Sociology degree in 2008 and had every intention of continuing my education at law school or grad school. I had always imagined myself in the academic stream and had no artistic career aspirations. I didn’t understand how that would even be possible. I took some time off to travel after my undergrad and had a lot of time to think about my real passions. When you step back from your day to day schedule and job and commitments, it’s interesting what stays in your mind. For me, I found myself always thinking about jewelry and the idea of making it into more than a hobby. When I got home, I decided to focus on that and gave myself one year to see if I could make it work. It’s grown ever since and now I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.
Do you have a mentor or someone who is the driving force behind your inspiration?
I have found inspiration from so many people in the past few years. I joined the FWE (Forum for Women Entrepreneurs) last year and started their mentor program. They paired me with Kendra and Tayler, the dynamic owners of Beautymark in Yaletown. They really helped morph me into a businesswoman and to help me navigate the world of wholesale and being a young entrepreneur. I have also worked closely with Edward Wright who is an incredible business mind. He’s taught me to ask for what I want and to not sell myself short. Everyone has something to offer, and you just have to figure out what your strengths are.
Being in a creative career it is so easy to get distracted without the structure of a 9-5 environment. What does your day-to-day look like and how do you keep yourself in check and maintain a balance?
I don’t know if I’ve figured that out yet! It is a struggle everyday. I work from home, so it’s always a challenge to stay focused and not be distracted. I try to make my workspace a place where I want to be. I always wake up in the morning and make myself a coffee. I light candles. I put on good music. I try to make it feel less like ‘work’. I try to remember that sometimes, I need to turn it off. It feels like it’s always looming over me, but I try to make time for myself and friends. Getting out of the house is very important for me! Even if it’s just to go for a walk.
Every stylish woman knows that accessories can make or break your look. What are your go-to accessories and what do you wear them with?
My Marc Jacobs rose gold watch. I love it. It goes with everything and I find it goes with all my jewelry, so it’s always my staple go-to. I seem to always be wearing my crystal spike earrings also. They are simple and can be worn by themselves, but also go with any of my bigger statement pieces.
Being in the fashion industry can be crazy at times, and quite demanding. What do you do to rest and rejuvenate during your down time?
My friends keep me sane. A glass of wine with a good friend can keep you going for another week. And I love Netflix.
What are your favourite things to do in Vancouver?
In the sun, I love the seawall. A long walk with a coffee or riding your bike and stopping for lunch is my favorite thing to do in Vancouver, when it’s nice out. I also have an affinity for craft beer. There are lots of really great breweries in Vancouver and I love trying new things. It’s fun in any weather.
One thing you won’t leave the house without.
I hate saying this, but my iPhone. I always have to be available to phone calls and emails. Social media is also very important for my business so I try to always be plugged in.
What is your go to holiday cocktail ensemble (real or imaginary)?
Black dress, statement necklace, with a good pair of heels. Every time.
Best of Vancouver
Cherry blossoms in the spring. Tree lined streets in the Fall. The mountains behind downtown on a clear day.
South Granville or Main Street
Place to grab a coffee
My neighborhood coffee shop. Esquires, at 16th and Oak.
But I also love 49th Parallel and Elysian on Broadway.