Two sisters, two coasts, one blog

Makers Series: Liz Esser of Haden Designs


I met Liz Esser the first year I moved to Raleigh. We were both vendors at a First Friday market downtown. During the slow moments I would drift over to her booth (where she had her earrings, necklaces and bracelets hanging from an Anthropologie-worthy display) and she would drift over to mine. We struck up a conversation and ended up trading some pieces at the end of the night.

Since then we’ve become friends. Liz is warm and funny, we always have a great time hanging out with her, her husband Mike and their two kiddos Jack & Haden. They are the sort of folk who know how to get things done and generously willing to help out those of us who aren’t – Mike was the friend who helped K tile the sun room last year for example.

I think her jewelry and my clothing compliment each other so well: she made the pieces I used in the Redress Raleigh fashion show earlier this year and they perfectly highlighted the edgy, tribal vibe I was trying to convey. Liz has a talent for combining materials and a great eye for graceful proportion – even when chunky her pieces seem to float. I was thrilled when she agreed to make an exclusive line to go with my Fall collection. In honor of it’s launch, I visited her home studio and asked her some questions:

Haden Designs for Judah Ross, Fall 2012

How did you get started making jewelry?

I was always making some kind of jewelry for myself, but really got started with a taste for working with metal in a high school crafts class.  I then went to college and decided to become an art major. HUH?!?! My concentration was in metals and ceramics.  After college I lived in Brooklyn and worked in NYC.  While there, I  just so happened to work in the diamond district around the corner from Metalliferous -which, if you do any jewelry or metal work you know this is DANGEROUS!  I had access to anything I wanted, stones, chain, wire…anything.  I would buy the supplies and make jewelry to accessorize whatever I was wearing.  It wasnt uncommon to be making a last minute pair of earrings to go with an outfit before going to catch the subway for work.  I soon started making pieces for others and that is how Haden Designs started.

What is inspiring you at the moment?

I guess it has always inspired me, but I am really into tribal/ethnic jewelry.  I’ll always have a soft spot for jewelry from central Asia–the intricacy of the metal work keeps me in awe.

Who were your childhood idols?
My Grandmother was my go to lady.  She could do anything creative and did it with such ease and grace.  She had me convinced growing up that everyone was like this.  It wasn’t until college that I realized I had a whole set of talents and creative skills I learned from her that others had never been exposed to.

What part of your business do you find the most rewarding?

I am still, and will always be, amazed that people like my jewelry.  When I’m at a show and people buy a piece because they ‘have to have it’, that always puts a smile on my face, and that’s pretty rewarding.

What part do you find the most challenging?

Currently its finding time to make anything, but its usually the business end of it.  I’m horrible at promoting my business and finances.

Anything you are looking forward to?

I’ve given myself a mental goal that 2013 is going to be when I take Haden Designs to the next level.  I kind of slowed down and gave myself a year to get used life with a new baby and a three year old.  Now they are a year older, I’m used to it, its time.

How would you describe your personal style?

Do I even have one?? *Editor’s note: Yes! I’d say Liz’s style is relaxed, urban chic.

Haden Designs for Judah Ross, Fall 2012

If money was no object, what item (object, piece of furniture, tool) would you buy for your home?

I would want an extensive, really kick ass record collection that I would play on my vintage record player with an amazing sound system that you could hear in any room of the house.
If you weren’t making jewelry, is there any other medium you would want to work in?



Thanks Liz!

7 Responses to “Makers Series: Liz Esser of Haden Designs”

  1. Jacquelyn Marie

    Very interesting jewelry to go with your innovative clothing, Oami!

  2. ruchapowers

    I’m loving this series! Great to finally ‘meet’ Liz whom I’ve been hearing so much about. I love her jewelry. I want those leather and metal hoops when my kids get big enough for me to wear earrings again (without them messing with my face!!).
    Good to know Liz is a busy mama too, even more impressive then that she’s running her own line. And… I think your collaboration is perfect, sophisticated AND earthy – I want to be that girl.

  3. nerponline

    You asked good questions. I’d like to know more about Liz’s grandmother, her source of creative inspiration. And that “kick ass” record collection….I wonder what would be in it!

  4. betty

    i remember admiring the cool jewelry in your fashion show photos. nice to learn about the designer. i love liz’s “if money was no object” response!

  5. ursula

    she sounds like a great pal to have out there oami. i love the jewelry you have in your shop by liz. especially the last necklace pictured.


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