Apse Adorn

The Maker Journals

A collaborative series of interviews and photographs by Lydia Harper. Working together with brands and artists to share to the stories behind their work.

I am very pleased to introduce you to the beautiful work of Apse Adorn. Founded by Hayley and Jarod, Apse is a brand creating jewellery with a purpose and helping the wider community through their work. In a time of consumerism and fast fashion, it’s special to find goods that have been made from the heart and that will last a lifetime.

When picking the jewellery to shoot with I was torn between the wonderful backstory of each item, and then the obvious aesthetic considerations. The names of the pieces I chose were Remain, Release and Float, all resonating with me equally in both their meaning and in style. Deciding on an item is an experience in itself; you are not just purchasing another expendable thing to be forgotten but an empowering and beautiful reminder of the hands that made it, the meaning behind it and those being helped by the process.

Reflecting back on the interview answers I have become even more appreciative of what Hayley and Jarod have created with Apse. From its humble beginnings and the and their commitment to ending sexual exploitation, the work of these two is nothing short of inspiring.

With every purchase made customers are asked to choose one of three non-profits to which 10% of the proceeds are then donated. Please do take a look at their website and Instagram to learn more and to follow their journey.

Model: Avianna Johnson 

What did the inception of the brand look like?

Jarod and I took a rather unconventional route to starting a brand. In its earliest days, Apse was actually a design publication, but then I got enchanted with products, specifically shiny ones you enjoy throughout your day. We both have fine art backgrounds and have always worked in multiple mediums, so making little wearable art objects wasn’t too removed from what we were doing. But really, we were just looking for a way to design and produce things that impacted a wider audience (than the one involved in the art world), impacted their everyday moments, and directly impacted the well being of the culture at large. And business really revealed itself more as culture making than anything else.

 We are very firm believers that you get what you give, so we knew if we weren’t giving Apse 110%, we wouldn’t see it become what we really wanted. We were only in official operation for 1 month before we decided to both simultaneously leave our jobs and go all in. It was touchy for a minute – we sold absolutely everything we owned that was worth more than 50$ and ate from the food bank – but it required us to be resourceful. Yeah, our first designs weren’t amazing, the photos weren’t pretty, but we did all we could to use the full potential of every resource we did have. And we managed to make things that people wanted. But maybe more so, we poured ourselves into the customer experience, which for us means not being afraid to be transparent and human with your customers, while also putting in the effort to create an aesthetic and uplifting experience that expresses the brand.

Tell us a little bit about the craft of silver smithing? 

Well, I (Hayley) lead studio production, so I am never not learning new techniques and methods to create a better product, as well as make it more efficiently. I am entirely self taught – everything I’ve learned I have found on the internet – though I would love to take classes.

I personally really enjoy the prototyping stage and working with materials in new ways and testing the limits of what I can make it do. It’s actually super exhilarating. However, I can’t really say the same about production and repetitive crafting (lol). So we are really thankful for the two ladies who help us with the bulk orders and large volumes of piece making!

What inspires your designs the most?

Honestly, the aesthetic inspirations are fluctuating a lot. Architecture will always be an inspiration to the work we make, but we are also really inspired by history and modernization, minimalism and the juxtaposition of softness and structure.

But what inspires our designs the most is our mission to exchange lies for truths. All our pieces have a message of truth attributed to them, whether it came about before or during the design of the piece. And all these message directly combat lies that we all hear throughout our day from the culture – whether that is “you’re gonna fail,” or “hide away because you’re gonna get hurt,” or “change who you are because you’re defective.” Each piece has been designed to speak truth over people, and in that, we are symbolically taking people’s shackles and giving them adornment. It’s in our name – All People’s Shackles Exchanged (APSE).

How do you balance work, rest and family time? Do you think you have a good work-life balance? 

I think there is this general sense of balance that we sway in and out of with the seasons. But I also think this sense of balance depends on where your heart is at. Our work is, maybe unlike a lot of people, very much a natural extension of who we are. It involves our creativeness, our desire to connect with people on a meaningful level, and we are doing it all as a team. So some weeks we might be in the studio till 11pm every night and pouring our hearts out because that’s just who we are and we would do it regardless, but others we can close up shop as soon as the traditional work day ends because we know we have given the day all we got. During those later nights, we try to be sensitive to whether or not the work we are doing is actually crucial, in both the short and long run, and if it’s not, we hands down prioritize rest.

We have just implemented a non-negotiable morning routine and I think it’s really changed the game as far as how graceful the work day is. We get up, make coffee and read, then Jarod goes to the gym and I either do some yoga or go on a run with our dog. Oh and we both drink green juice! I would recommend everyone develop a morning routine that suits them. This normally two hour routine allows us to both mentally and physically process the day ahead so we are motivated and feel more present, which results in stronger communication and just general sanity and success throughout the day.

What is your studio environment like? 

I would say our studio environment is peacefully lively. We always have music going, normally something danceable like Haim, Toro y Moi or Disclosure (and if it’s late and the storefront is closed then we will bump some Drake). But it’s also accompanied by real life conversations while we work.

We both can be slightly sporadic at times. I’m normally bouncing around between 3-4 different things, whether it’s making a piece or talking to a customer, or helping out an employee with their project, or coming up with a new design all in the process. Jarod is normally multitasking as well, and I feel like if you can conquer multitasking while still be focused and doing it at a sustainable rate (we will always be working on this), it makes for a really creative environment. Design will always be a top priority, and we try to curate an atmosphere that nurtures this and always takes the creative opportunity when it arises.

You support three incredible charities through your sales, could you tell us a little bit about this? 

Yeah! When we started the brand we knew we wanted it to address issues that are cultivating the sexual abuse that we are so commonly seeing today. You can’t truly solve a problem unless you look at the heart issues. And we don’t want to just treat this issue, we want it to stop happening entirely.

The nonprofits we support all address a different avenue that is creating a culture of exploitation, and as a result, creating predators. Human trafficking, pornography and domestic violence all are results of the mentality that sometimes it’s okay to use people and/or be used.

We support these causes because they all do so much to educate the public about the science behind sexual abuse, as well as restore and rescue victims, and hold predators accountable. But also, we just in general try to spread the message of servant leadership, because this is often what is missing at the heart of it. We believe we are all leaders within our circumstance – we all have the power to do something about our situation. However, it’s when leaders start doing things without the well being of the other as the motivation, that we see abuse and corruption. We are all put in charge of something, whether it’s ourselves or something else, and it’s when we leaders aren’t willing to put what we are in charge of first and treat it with love, but instead make decisions based on our fear of loss, that we begin to cultivate a culture that we actually hate. And we do our best to spread this message through all our designs/products, but also our IG, and of course, through the relationships we make while doing it all.

What is the most gratifying part of your job?

Giving people adornments and taking their shackles.

Do you have any advice for somebody wanting to make their creativity into a career? 

Find your thing and do it your way. And then check your motives.

Doing something someone else is doing isn’t going to change the culture. What’s going to change the culture is doing the thing you’ve been made to do, which is different than that person you idolize on IG.

But then, don’t pursue it in the name of success or numbers. Do it instead, with just one person in mind. And do it because, if you didn’t, then that one person wouldn’t be thriving as much as they could.