While studying accessories at the Art Institute of Chicago, Lauren Shoff recognized that there was a problem in the jewelry industry.
I remember reading ... on a website called "No Dirty Gold" [by EARTHWORKS] that for every gold wedding band that is made, it generates twenty tons of waste. And I was like, OK, there's something that can be done that's a little bit different. You can use what is already here and not have to generate twenty tons of waste every time you make a gold ring, or anything out of gold. Why aren't we using what we already have when it looks the same, it feels the same, everything? Why not use something that's already here?
There, the idea for L. SHOFF jewelry began. She wanted to make beautiful pieces of jewelry that would stand the test of time, without harming the environment, and committed to using no newly-mined materials in her brand.
All of the metals, be it sterling silver, gold, is basically from broken jewelry, antique jewelry, even the silver could be your grandmother's silverware. So that actually comes to us, [we've] already developed a very good program where people actually bring it to us, or if they're needing repairs, or they just don't want it anymore it's ... brought to us. The same with the precious stones. They come from those broken pieces of jewelry.
Lauren continued to research alternative materials, and came across two options that were quite unique.
I was looking into alternative materials that are not impactful on the environment and are kind of cool. I knew there was diamonds, and diamonds kind of can be boring after you use them all the time. So fossilized wooly mammoth ivory popped up, and I was like, "oh, that's kind of cool!" There's really only two things that I source outside of [Minnesota], and that's the fossilized wooly mammoth ivory and dinosaur bone. The fossilized wooly mammoth ivory comes from Alaska, and the dinosaur bone comes from the western part of the United States.
Lauren believes in sustainable living beyond her work, consciously avoiding plastics and choosing the sustainable alternative whenever she can. That commitment is important, because it drove her to continue to build the jewelry brand that she wanted.
I've always been sustainable and made in Minnesota, and it was tough in the beginning, but it was worth it. It took a little time to kind of figure out how to do it, since I didn't have any guidelines or anything, but I think it was definitely worth it and I think people are starting to kind of make that shift. But it will take a while. But I think it also helps when there's good design involved and it's not just, "we're eco and we're made in the United States", and that's it. I think it has to go full circle and there has to be something that people actually want to wear. People are stubborn, and they want what they want, and they want it to look good, they want it to feel good, and they want it to last forever.
No one wants to compromise their personal style, and what drew me to L. SHOFF jewelry was the gorgeous design. Part of my mission with Hazel & Rose is to never allow style to be compromised for sustainability, because you can have both, and L. SHOFF is a shining example of that. Lauren creates pieces that are modern, yet timeless, and that you'll feel good about purchasing.
I wanted people to actually think about the jewelry and realize, "oh, I can have something that's not bad for the environment, but it can also look good, and it can last forever." I received this gorgeous piece from my great-grandmother, and it's so well made that it stands the test of time. If you go to a store now, you'll have it for two weeks and it falls apart. So I think that was important for me as well ... [to] have it be very well made, but also don't hurt anything in the process. So, it took a long time, but it was definitely what I wanted to do, so it was very important to me and I feel like it's becoming very important to other people. It just made sense to me, I guess.