Today we’d like to introduce you to Sophie Hughes.
Sophie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I began by selling my own collection, Sophie Hughes Jewelry, from my studio in Boston’s SOWA artist building. After six years there, I decided the time was right to reach a larger audience – opening a retail space was the perfect next step! In opening a shop, I knew I could finally give more visibility to the work of other local designers I really admired. I loved the way all of our work-related, and I wanted to show it all together in the same space because I felt like so many of them weren’t getting the exposure they deserved.
There is definitely something special about the way I, and other female designers, relate to jewelry. We approach the process in a unique way because we’re wearing as well as creating it – in a way, we design for ourselves! Of course, I have nothing against male jewelers, but female designers are my community so I focus on supporting them in the lineup at the shop.
I count myself very lucky to have found a storefront space in the South End that also accommodates my studio, which is lofted above the shop. It’s wonderful to be able to both create and show the jewelry in the same space. My jewelry is all made on site by myself and a couple (amazing!) assistants using hammers, anvils, and torches. Both the designs in my work and the shop decor are extensions of myself and my personal aesthetic – they have a distinctly unpretentious, yet special feel to them.
Has it been a smooth road?
Time is a constant challenge – either there aren’t enough hours in the day, or I just can’t figure out how to most productively utilize them! It has also been tricky learning to run the operational end of the business over the years. I don’t have any business training, so I’ve had to figure it all out by trial (and many) errors as I go. After four years with the shop, I feel like I’m getting there!
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Ore Jewelry by Sophie Hughes story. Tell us more about the business.
We specialize in handmade, custom engagement rings. Our designs, which we’ve won Best of Boston four years in a row for, reflect the distinct beauty of being handmade – their softness and thoughtfulness comes from not being machine-produced replicas. We also favor using antique diamonds, which add a ton of character to pieces that are already one-of-a-kind.
Creating these incredibly important personal symbols for our clients is equally rewarding and challenging. We take immense pride in how in-depth we partner with our clients to create their pieces – we feel strongly that the level of customer service we provide is something that really distinguishes us. A person comes to me with their vision for their partner and I’m tasked with designing something that the recipient will wear (and love!) daily for the rest of their lives.
I listen really closely to the client’s desires and try to balance that with imagining design goals for a partner that, in many cases, I haven’t met. Is the recipient someone who, based on what I gather of their lifestyle, wants a bold statement ring; or would they prefer a more practical piece? Are they a rose gold, white gold, or yellow gold person? We often look at pictures of the “intended” and ask questions about who they are and what matters to them. When I sit down to design, I try to conceptualize a ring that will be everything they could want. The rewarding part comes when we get it right – incredibly, we’re all wins so far!
What do you like best about our city? What do you like least about our city?
Boston, and specifically the South End neighborhood that we are so lucky to call home, has a really vibrant community of small business owners that support and champion one another. We also have an incredibly supportive and enthusiastic client base that we are immensely grateful for.
The challenges we encounter being located in Boston are mostly due to the conservative style sensibilities of the region. It can sometimes create parameters that pose constraints to the styles we make and designers we carry. That said, we have a handful of really aesthetically adventurous clients who keep me pushing my boundaries to find exciting design solutions so I continue to grow and evolve as both a designer and shop owner.
- Address: 80 Dartmouth St.
Boston, MA 02116
- Website: sophiehughes.com
- Phone: 6172477426
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org