Metaphorically S A D É
Inspired by modernist art, mythologies, aesthetics, and astronomy, S A D É creates heirlooms that are meant to be kept forever. The Brooklyn-based maker, Sadé Hooks, aims to materialize the impalpable. Read along to find out more about the brand, and its brilliance.
How did you get into the jewelry industry? We would love to hear a bit about your background.
I’m not a traditionally trained jewelry designer, but I’ve always been relatively (dare I say ‘innately’?) creative. As a teen I really wanted to study accessory design. I spent so much time in middle and high school making clothes and various accessories for myself, that it seemed like the right career for me explore. I was talked out of it; my mom was worried I was going to wind up in a tiny windowless apartment eating Saltines and baloney for the rest of my life (I love Satines by the way). Ha! A creative career wasn’t something that anyone in my family pursued; it wasn’t an option, understandably so. On the surface, it’s not stable and there’s no guarantee for success. In my mom’s eyes she didn’t want me to have to struggle to make ends meet (or to simply survive) like generations of our people have. I wound up taking a different path – studying material and visual culture (with a semester in London studying fashion merchandising) in hopes of expanding my options to work tangentially in different creative industries instead.
When I was 16, I took my first jewelry class at the Fashion Institute of Technology – and needless to say it was a transformative experience. To be able to make something so involved and so tangible changed me. For many years after I played around with jewelry making with more accessible materials – mostly found pieces from Metaliferous (RIP) and bead shops. I would sell the things I made every so often, but I never took what I did seriously.
About six years ago, I had an idea for a ring that I wanted to make for myself (‘Medusa’) – a ring designed as an embodiment of thoughts I had about how I’m seen in this world, and my understanding of desire and desirability of Black women. After I made the first prototype of the ring, along with a few others, I kept getting a ton of compliments for my pieces on the street, in stores, literally everywhere I’d go! One thing led to another – I launched my brand and ultimately my passion project turned into a small business and I haven’t looked back!
Your jewelry is inspired by magic, mythology, astronomy, etc. What fascinates you about the unknown and the impalpable?
My jewelry takes a lot of inspiration from astronomy, mythology, artifacts, modernism and modernist practices, etc. – all personal fascinations of mine. However, a great deal of what guides me and my work is a desire to materialize the immaterial. Feelings, thoughts, memories, states of consciousness. What would these things look like if I were to give them form? How would they be used by the people that wear them? This allows my work to move beyond the literal and become more abstract both in form and meaning. It also give the wearer space to impart their own meaning on the pieces I make.
What was the first piece you designed? What has changed since then?
For S A D É., it was the Medusa ring, everything else came after. There haven’t been many changes since I first launched. The collection has grown some and I still aim to keep a large percentage of my work as hand carved/handmade as possible (if the particular piece allows for it). The latest development is that I started to incorporate gemstones into some of my pieces, and I’m looking to do more in the future. I’ve also worked on a lot more custom work/one-off projects in the past two years.
How did you learn about the more mystical side of jewelry, which involves energy transfer, emotions, and protection?
People and ‘things’, especially works of art, possess energies that we can tap into if we want to. I’ve witnessed this first hand, but learned a lot about this in my academic studies. A lot of the times we’re not aware that it happens because we’re not really tuned into these things (or we don’t care about them!) – but I wholeheartedly believe they’re there. With jewelry, there are multiple exchanges that happen: there’s an energy exchange that happens between me and my work, one that happens between me and the wearer, and one between the wearer and the piece itself. In my opinion, it’s the last exchange between the wearer and the piece that matters most – as this is solely at the discretion of the wearer and the most long term. While I may have designed something that was meant to empower, it’s up to the wearer to decide how the jewelry will serve them. For some, it’s purely decorative, for others my initial concept may resonate with them and it will function for its designed purpose. The ways you speak of aren’t necessarily of the bippity-boppity-boo type – it’s the idea that physical things are fully capable of holding energies and have the ability to conjure memories and they have the ability to give us energy if we ask them to. Whether its confidence or strength or grounding.
How does jewelry design help you keep in touch with your spiritual side? In what ways do you express yourself through your pieces?
I guess it depends on how you define spiritual – for me, it may not be in the conventional definition of the term. Craft in general is a very personal process, one where I can really tap into myself and use my imagination in a way that I’m not necessarily able to in the ‘real world’ (whatever that means these days!). I can use jewelry to workout bigger ideas, dreams, or channel emotions – just as a painter would with their brush.
Can you talk a bit about your creative process? What is your favorite part?
There are different processes for different pieces, but in general it starts with the seed of an idea in my head. Ideas often just pop into my mind with very little influence or will stem from something that I initially needed to make for myself. From there, I follow my gut and let my intuition guide me through what I want to make, even if I have no clue what I’m doing. I think what helps my process is that I make what I want when I want to make it. I try not to be influenced by fashion seasons or time in general; I let ideas work themselves out on their own time. I also think it’s really important for me to always remain in a state of ‘play’ when I create – just constantly exploring, experimenting and engaging with a mind free of influence.
I don’t have a singular favorite part – I enjoy the whole process!
We would love to know about your favorite piece that you have created. What’s the story behind it?
I would say my favorite piece is the ‘Kind of Mood’ mood ring. I’m a super fan of the original five and dime treasures. It’s jewelry that is ‘empathic’ and ‘reads energies’ (eg the temperature of your finger lol) – what isn’t cool about that!? I was inspired to make it a couple of years ago. I used to wear this cheap one that I found at Pearl River Mart in New York a while back, and I decided to bring on what would be a life-affirming jaunt around Europe. On my second stop (out of eight), it broke! The ring held very little sentimental value, but surprisingly I was a little sad about it. A day or two later I vowed that I was going to make the next mood ring I wear – and so I did. ‘Kind of Mood’ was not only made as a result of that promise, or for my love of mood rings, it was made to conjure memories from that trip (which to date, still is one of the most amazing trips I’ve taken). It was full of embodied multi-sensory experiences and beautiful poetic moments. Throughout the entire trip I was blanketed with a sense of peace, and knowing that I hadn’t felt in a very long time; I really felt my freedom. Its name (‘Kind of Mood’) was inspired by the Miles Davis song ‘Kind of Blue’ which, in a very loose description, is a song about a specific embodied feeling he channeled from one of his childhood memories.
When you think of S A D É, what does it stand for, in terms of sustainability and social issues? What do you want the company to be known for?
I guess I should start off by saying that my business is 100% an extension of myself – actually and metaphorically speaking. What I believe in on a personal level is reflected in the principals of my business.
My business wasn’t initially set-up to be an intentionally sustainable company, but I’m mindful of my imprint on this world in all aspects of my life and I try to apply those principles to my practice. I care deeply about reducing my carbon imprint and waste where I can. I design jewelry that’s meant to be kept, which in and of itself reduces so much waste considering the amount of disposable jewelry is bought, sold, and trashed. Also, at the moment, all of my pieces are produced in New York City, while this usually means my production costs are a bit higher, it does mean that I can reduce the amount of energy used to ship things as I’m only a short subway ride away. In addition to this, I use the services of a jewelry caster that strongly believes in using recycled metals whenever possible. I’m also currently in the process of researching new packaging options that are more earth friendly.
Has anyone inspired you throughout your journey in jewelry design?
No. There’s no reason why there hasn’t been anyone – that’s just the way that it’s worked out!
How have you been keeping yourself creative and motivated throughout the pandemic? What are you looking forward to once the pandemic is over?
Spending time at NoLo Studios (where I currently have a residency) has been keeping me motivated and inspired. I find that just leaving my house to go to the studio on a low energy day will give me a creative boost. I’m also trying to get better at my practice and improve on my technique – so I’ve been reading a lot and exploring online courses and YouTube videos too. I also try to engage in other creative projects at home just to keep my right brain stimulated. I’ve been tie-dying a lot since the pandemic began! I have also been doing some research on quilting and quilting practices, as that’s something I’ve been keen to get into (for myself).
After all of this is over, I’m mostly looking forward to going out dancing again – I miss ‘shaking it out’ on a crowded dance floor so much. I’m also hoping to rebook all of those trips that I had canceled last March!
S A D É offers brilliant pieces designed to be kept forever. To see more of S A D É follow them on Instagram @sadejewelryco and visit their website https://www.sade.gold/