Every Thursday during the pandemic, we’re checking in on members of the jewelry trade in an attempt to glean shareable tips and tricks for doing business—and living as well as possible—during the COVID-19 crisis.
Today we hear from Sadé Hooks, founder of stylish and emerging handmade fine jewelry brand Sadé.
JCK: Hi, Sadé! Where are you based right now?
Sadé Hooks: I’m currently based in Brooklyn, N.Y., and I’m quarantined with my puppy, Opal! I was born and raised in the Washington, D.C., area.
How has it been living in New York during the COVID-19 crisis?
It goes without saying that the early days were pretty scary. However, I must admit it was kind of nice being in a quiet city (for once!). Living in New York in our pre-COVID days—there was never any time to slow down, it was always go, go, go! So in the early months I really enjoyed doing all of the things that I never had time to do: checking in on and catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, trying and learning new things that I never had time to do. I took lots of online classes, got really into Kundalini yoga, joined a remote book club. I was really trying to navigate and enjoy “stillness.”
When the novelty of that wore off (and honestly it took a while for it to!) I found myself really missing the people and places that shaped this city for me. The city has definitely changed a lot, and I guess in some ways, I have too.
How are you feeling about your day-to-day life right now?
Positive about 80% of the time! That’s pretty good, right? This past October I was selected for a jewelry residency at NoLo Studios here in Brooklyn, which has been amazing and a nice way to break up the monotony of my day-to-day routine.
I used to have a studio setup at home, which was very convenient, but it was very easy to give in to distractions. To have mental and physical space for ideas to grow has been rewarding and a major highlight of our quarantine days. I’m not going to lie, I miss the surprises and serendipity of our pre-COVID existence—those moments that made you really love being in New York. But I’m grateful to be alive right now. I’m here! We’re here! And that’s no small thing.
When did you found your brand, and what’s your background professionally or as a student?
There’s no real founding date. But I guess I would say 2017 is when I launched my website and became official and started taking all of this a bit more seriously. I studied visual and material culture for my undergraduate and master’s degrees, and professionally most of my career has been focused in PR and marketing for designers and creatives. I’m not a classically trained jeweler!
How has business been during the pandemic—and how has COVID-19 changed your plans for your brand?
It’s actually been pretty good, which feels weird to say, considering the times. The increased attention on Black creatives since last summer has been wonderful, especially since a lot of people were not aware of the diversity of talent out there.
I’ve also been able to participate in some amazing opportunities with Female Design Council and NYC Jewelry Week and its Here We Are initiative, and I worked on a collaboration with the Wide Awakes—all of which has brought a lot of love and attention to my brand.
The pandemic hasn’t changed my plans for my brand. If anything, it’s giving me the time and space to play and explore other things related to my brand. There are some non-jewelry products that I’ve been dreaming up and slowly working on that I hope to launch in the next few months.
What’s your most popular piece, and why do you think it’s been so successful?
I would say it would be a tie between my Heirloom rings and the Wide Awakes special edition Mati ring (both pictured, above). I think people are drawn to the Heirloom rings because they’re either one- or some-of-a-kind—they’re intentionally rare. They also have a really nice weight to them. And the Wide Awakes Mati rings are just awesome and really powerful pieces. Plus, how can you resist alexandrites and opals? Both have such brilliant, otherworldly colors.
What are you most looking forward to once the virus is under control?
Dancing! I can’t wait to get back to a proper dance floor and rave. That, and concerts and movie theaters.
What’s the most fun thing you’ve done during the pandemic?
Does getting a puppy count? Outside of that, I will say, reimagining how to spend time with friends and creating more meaningful moments with them—stoop drinks, walks, picnics in Prospect Park. Road trips to see my family in D.C. Tie-dyeing. I’m also a part of a really rad book club with a group of friends on the West Coast.
Any TV/movie/podcast/book recs you can share?
I’ve got tons! Call My Agent!—a really fun French show about a talent agency in Paris, on Netflix. GameFace on Hulu—as a 30-something who’s still trying to figure it out and keep it together, I really enjoyed this Brit comedy. I May Destroy You on HBO, which is a work of pure genius. Period. Betty on HBO—in case you need a reminder for what it felt like to be young and free in New York. And My Brilliant Friend on HBO—the whole series is true to the books and beautifully shot. Small Axe on Amazon Prime Video moved me, and episode two left me without words.
And everything on the Criterion Channel has been salve for my cinephile soul throughout the pandemic.
Top: Sadé Hooks (all photos courtesy of Sadé Hooks)
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