Artist and designer Nanette Pengelley founded Hew Jewelry in 2016 with her vision to discover beauty in the unconventional. Hew is focused on using sustainable practices and an exploratory approach to creating fine jewelry.
- What inspired you to start your business?
- I’ve always wanted to run my own business. I’m very independent, and find fault with most capitalist structures. By running my own business, I’m able to reconcile my ethics while supporting myself through my art.
- How would you describe your customers? What do you think sets your brand apart for them?
- My ideal customer cares about their community, they care about the planet, LGBTQIA rights, liberation, and mutual aid. My brand combines art and activism, so that my customers know their money is not only supporting a queer, black woman, but a wider community as well.
- What are some of the key products/styles offered by Hew and what makes them unique?
- Hew Jewelry offers unique limited edition pieces, custom wedding and engagement rings, as well as my hand embroidered fiber work, made from sustainable, raw, and recycled materials.
- Can you describe your personal connection to your brand and how it reflects your values and passions?
- “Hew” means to cut or chop roughly. When I was studying jewelry and metalsmithing at MassArt, I would chafe at the constrictions of traditional jewelry production. Everything had to be symmetrical, sanded and filed to perfection— all flaws hidden. As frustrating as I found that, I was told that when I had my own brand one day, I could do as I pleased. So that’s exactly how I run my business now— I celebrate imperfections, I look for balance over symmetry, and above all else, I want the wearer to know that I made each piece with my own two hands.
- What are some of the prominent sustainability initiatives or practices that you prioritize during your production process?
- While building my brand I tried to think through every step of production through the lense of sustainability. I recycle old jewelry by melting it down and rolling it out into new stock. When I have to purchase new supplies, I always verify the origins. All purchased stones are certified, and quite a few of my pieces are made with found stones, shells, glass, etc. All of my packaging is recycled and compostable, and all of my chemicals are disposed of responsibly. And every week I host a sliding-scale sale through my Instagram, where 20% of profits are donated to a different grass roots led organization.