Kelsey Nagie – Los Angeles
Founded in the summer of 2010 by designer Kelsey Nagie, HALE Jewelry fuses Nagie’s love for dance and fashion into an incredible collection of statement jewelry pieces that possess a classy yet bold and edgy aesthetic. Nagie, who calls her jewelry line “strong with delicate accents, rough but polished, confident yet vulnerable, and technical but free-spirited” features stunning unique pieces including necklaces, earrings, hand pieces, headpieces (that can also be worn as necklaces), shoe pieces, back pieces, bracelets, body harnesses, chest bibs, chain belts, and anklets. Check out the interview to learn more about Kelsey Nagie and HALE Jewelry.
BANGSTYLE: Your passion for dance and fashion inspires your handcrafted jewelry collections. Can you go into more detail?
Kelsey Nagie: I’ll give a little background about it. I have a degree in dance and a degree in fashion. I knew that I always wanted to do something artsy; I do dancing on the side. I knew that I always wanted to do something with fashion; I just didn’t know what. One of my friends suggested that I make jewelry. I said, “I’ve never done that before, but OK.” So I took one class and after that I had learned the fundamentals of jewelry making, and I just kept going from there.
I have three different ways I describe the inspiration that comes behind it. It’s bohemian and free-spirited but it’s also pretty technical, like dancing. HALE is clean, but still artistic and edgy at the same time. I just try to pull from what I know about dance and fashion and fuse them together.
BANGSTYLE: How and when did you start HALE? Can you tell us about its beginnings?
KN: I started it as a part time job. I was dancing in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors up north, so it started in San Francisco in late 2010.
BANGSTYLE: Why did you decide to move HALE to Los Angeles?
KN: I moved to LA August of 2011, so I kind of tried to figure out what I was doing with HALE for a while in San Francisco; then I realized the type of jewelry that I create is going to have a better reception in LA, so I moved down here.
Since moving down here, I’ve been doing it a lot more full-time than I was up there. I’m still dancing on the side, so I’m trying to keep the two balanced. It started as something I definitely wanted to grow but not that I could do without working another job and having the money to do so. I moved here because LA is the better market for this jewelry line. It’s fashion forward, and it’s something that a lot of celebrities would wear. It’s just a better place, and I proved myself right because things have picked up so much since I moved down here.
BANGSTYLE: You have always been interested in fashion, and after graduating from college, you continued your education at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise (FIDM) in San Francisco. Why did you choose to create jewelry as opposed to clothing?
KN: It was a suggestion from a friend but at the same time—I guess this happened simultaneously—I don’t really know which one was the chicken or which one was the egg, but I saw one of the Olsen twins on David Letterman or Jay Leno. She had taken a necklace and made it into a headpiece, and I thought that was so cool; I had never really thought of that. The next day, I did it when I went out and got a really big response from it. From then on, I wanted to make jewelry that you can wear a bunch of different ways. I knew that headpieces wouldn’t appeal to everyone but something like a necklace would.
BANGSTYLE: We know HALE jewelry is sold online at ETSY. Where else can shoppers find HALE jewelry?
KN: That’s actually my goal right now—getting HALE into department stores and boutiques. Ideally, I’d love to get into bigger places like Fred Segal and stores like that, but I know that’s going to take some time. Still being a newer resident to LA, I am still getting acquainted with the boutiques here.
BANGSTYLE: Your designs are very unique, especially the ponytail and hand pieces. Aside from dance and fashion, what are you inspired by?
KN: I’m definitely inspired by locations, and especially traveling. Down the road, I want to do lines that are inspired by different cities and countries around the world, whether it has to do with the architecture or coloring of the buildings. I always think of Greece and how I love Greece—the white and the blue and the buildings. I would love to do a line that’s inspired by Greece and its culture.
I’m also very much inspired by anything I see around that has to do with metal, even a chain-linked fence. I try to figure out how I can make something that would look like that and on which body part it would go on. I definitely want to know what’s out there, in terms of competition, but I try to stay away from looking at it too much because I don’t want it to influence my designs at all, whether it be very opposite of them or similar to them. I want it to be mine.
BANGSTYLE: Do you plan on creating men’s jewelry in the future?
KN: Yes! I find that male jewelry is really hard because most men don’t wear it, and if they do, it’s a very simple necklace, bracelet, or leather cuff. Eventually I’ll get into something like that, but it will be a challenge to represent the edgy, sometimes intricate elements of HALE, and have that somehow translate successfully into male jewelry. I just haven’t gotten there yet, but it’s on my radar.
BANGSTYLE: Which pieces/collections are you most proud of?
KN: I’m really proud of the HALE video look book for Spring 2011. The videographer that I had was great. The theme of it was a rebellious ballerina type of look– kind of “Black Swan” inspired– but a lot more rock’n'roll. I’m really proud of all of the pieces in that video. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the harnesses. I know not everyone is because people like it but feel like they would never wear it.
My favorite piece is the Mia Harness, and I also love the Alexis Headpiece which is also a necklace. The Alexis Headpiece is by far my most popular. Emily Maynard from “The Bachelorette” bought it and wore it. I sold so many because she tweeted about it. It’s a simple silver headpiece with iridescent beads. It’s actually one of the first pieces I made, so I’m really attached to it.
BANGSTYLE: What is your favorite thing about being able to create beautiful jewelry?
KN: I like the freedom in it. Because this is my own company and these are my own designs, I have free range to do whatever I want. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do, create something of my own. The fact that it’s been well received, I’ve been very grateful for it. I also like being able to make things for myself for different events. It’s been cool to be able to personalize any outfit that I have. If I think the piece is cool enough to sell, then I’ll try to sell it.
BANGSTYLE: We know HALE has been worn on “The Insider,” “The Bachelor,” at the Emmys, and in the NO H8 Campaign. Where else has HALE been featured?
KN: It has been featured on The Hollywood Reporter, Miami Fashion Week, Possessionista, and season 16 of The Bachelor. A collaboration line of dance costumes by Lacey Schwimmer and costume jewelry by Hale Jewelry for Discount Dance is also in the works. It’s been on a lot of people as opposed to shows.
BANGSTYLE: Lauren Conrad, Lo Bosworth, Keltie Colleen, Christina Perri, Chelsie Hightower, Cassie Scerbo, and others are all owners of HALE jewelry. Which other celebrities are HALE owners?
KN: Victoria’s Secret model Chanel Iman, Lacey Schwimmer of Dancing With The Stars, Katie Stevens of American Idol, and Emily Maynard of The Bachelor.
BANGSTYLE: Can you give us a step-by-step of your design process?
KN: I do it one of two ways: I’ll sketch it first and then build it, or I’ll just go to my mannequin and start making harness pieces. I have a ton of chains and beads at home—silver, brass, gold, and copper. I’ll just decide which jewelry piece I want to make and try to keep in mind what my customers would wear.
I do that for a lot of things, like what my 20-year-old cousin would wear versus my mom. I try to make things that will fit both of them, even though my target market is women in their 20s and 30s. It sometimes starts with a sketch and sometimes it doesn’t. I do it all myself, and I keep going until I’m happy with it.
BANGSTYLE: What materials do you use to craft HALE pieces?
KN: I mostly use chains; I have a couple pendants here and there, as well as beads and stones, but overall, mostly chains.
BANGSTYLE: What can Miami Fashion Week expect from HALE?
KN: I sent a lot of harness pieces to complement the swimsuits. I also sent anklets, arm bands, headpieces, and a couple earrings. I think, overall, they were looking for body pieces to complement the swimsuits.
BANGSTYLE: HALE jewelry is relatively affordable. What is your motivation for creating jewelry that can be worn by everyone?
KN: The hard thing is, you can go to a store like Forever 21 and pick up a $10 necklace that looks cute with everything. Maybe tt’s not the best quality, but it’s disposable jewelry that you don’t care if you lose or break. I wanted to make higher quality pieces that are wearable everyday, but I didn’t want to make something that would break the bank. When I first started designing, I was making things that I knew my friends could afford. Not a lot of people in their 20s can afford really expensive jewelry. I wanted to make something that, if I saw it in a store and liked it, I would be OK with spending $80 or so on it. Yes, my jewelry is priced higher than normal, but it’s also handcrafted.
BANGSTYLE: We noticed there are sale items on your website. How often do pieces go on sale?
KN: I design as I go and don’t designate “seasonal collections” yet. When I have to create new pieces, I put older ones on the site for sale.
BANGSTYLE: How would you describe the HALE woman?
KN: The HALE woman is confident and knows what she wants.
BANGSTYLE: What are your goals for HALE?
KN: I would love to get HALE in boutiques and department stores. I also want to make a staple on the body jewelry fashion industry. Eventually, I would love to go into charity.
Right now, I have a friend of a friend who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and I want to design a piece for her where all the profits would go to either a foundation for MS or to her medical bills. I would love to use the jewelry design platform as a way to raise awareness for various diseases. Ultimately, I want half of my business to be involved in charity. I feel very fortunate with the life I’ve been given, so I want to be able to do everything I can to give back.