WE'RE LOVING: Hechizo Jewelry

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Hechizo accessories are designed and fabricated by Hali Emminger. Combining ceramics, metals and textiles into items made to adorn, Hechizo pieces are the mementos of an exploration with materials and processes. Hali draws from many different global traditions of adornment and decor, playfully elevating somewhat less-precious materials by showcasing them in her designs. The daughter of a carpenter and granddaughter of two generations of tailors, Hali enjoys carrying on a tradition of handcrafting objects with care.

1. How + when did you get your start?
I was in a creative yet very corporate role for six years in Manhattan. I had incredibly valuable experiences with retail operations, business planning and management with that company but I never fit in to culture and it was starting to turn me into a sour grape. A friend sent me Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artists’ Way’ one day out of the blue and working that course sincerely changed everything for me. That material enabled me to rely on my skills in design and creating (honed both from crafting things non-stop in my basement as a kid and a background in Sculpture + Extended Media from VCU) instead of being fearful about finances or feeling guilty about pursuing a career in the arts. I started to trust that these were not only worthy skills but the most important assets I bring with me to any role. I started to trust that my creativity could help me carve out a career and a work culture of my own design that felt more aligned with my core values. I basically became woo-woo about entrepreneurship, started working incredibly long days for a few years and became truly fortunate enough to find an audience that supported my work. I ran Hechizo on the side while I worked part time as a nanny and then in administration for a terrific jewelry designer for a couple of years but everything crystalized into a real-feeling business in 2016 when I went full time on Hechizo. It’s not a glitzy story but small business is an incredible amount of work and often demands real sacrifices. The energy work I began to practice coupled with cutting my teeth in more traditional business environments continue to help me sustain my creativity, energy and support systems for (hopefully!) the long game.

2. Where do you draw inspiration from?
I’m very interested in anthropology, artifacts, pottery and traditional crafts from all over the world. Exploring books and Pinterest for traditional dress and costuming from all kinds of cultures is one of my favorite ways to find inspiration. From the most ornate bejeweled robe to simple body painting, I’m so intrigued by the intention behind costumes and the creative expression they give platform to. Adornment is its very own language. When I was in college I made a lot of costumes and explored themes of covering and masking. I find it so interesting how people adorn themselves and the cultural or creative ‘why’ behind their choices. My business name, Hechizo, means a spell or a magical charm in Spanish and I’ve always looked at jewelry as little magic charms, little totems we wear in memoriam, for protection, or just for sheer beauty. Style is an amalgamation of so many things but it’s fun to remember we’re still all playing dress up!

3. Why did you choose New York?
I wanted to live in NYC since was a kid because I saw it as the place where all the action and culture was pulsing from and I wanted to be as close to that as I could get. I’ve lived in the same building in Brooklyn for a decade and I’m in love with my neighborhood; the historic brownstones, friendly neighbors, block parties, it’s just beautiful. This is a magic city and it has taught me all the best lessons. In September I’m moving to Richmond, Virginia to open a larger creative suite with my carpenter father and luthier brother. It’s bittersweet to leave NY but I’m very excited about a new adventure, closer to family, that will harbor the next chapter for Hechizo – bespoke home goods and possibly furniture are in the works!

4. Describe your perfect vacation
I will honestly go anywhere I haven’t been before so the element of adventure would factor into a perfect vacation for sure. Aside from that, all my favorite trips include mostly eating and drinking, walking everywhere and doing local things like swimming in cenotes or hiking to see terrific views. I also try to seeks out as much art and architecture as possible since I love to sketch and reflect on photos years later. You never know what will stick in your mind and inspire something down the road! This year I’ve started to work with artisans in Guatemala for a new collection so the concept of matching inspiration with actual collaboration and relationship building is a process I’ve fallen in love with. Even though they’re work trips they feel a bit like vacations because I get to dive into a completely different culture and rendezvous creatively with talented people. Getting a real deal authentic experience in a new place is the essence of travel for me so I hope to continue with more collaborations in the future.

5. What do you like to do in your free time?
While I still work long hours, I try hard to make time to write my morning pages and I love writing them from my hammock under the pear tree in my backyard. That’s about as cute as it gets though because most days I’m lucky if I’ve made myself a meal over a Netflixed BBC show before 10pm! In stepping away from the hustle of New York though, it’s a goal of mine to start making sculptures again just for the exploration of it – I’m hoping I can get myself into that practice again!

6. What is your ideal style?
I like the feel of earthy elements and neutral colors for both dressing and decorating. I love objects that tell a story. I’m also pretty convinced I was living in Mexico in a past life because the art, food and culture are most inspiring and appetizing to me. Any embroidery, basketry, or hacienda flavor in general is going to factor into my style in some big way.