The origin story behind NUE Hoops, a U.K.-based sustainable earrings brand, is a very sweet, very charming one. The concept — dreamt up by CEO, product director, and co-founder Tory Darby — is simple: After selecting a few desired hoop styles, the wearer can then adorn them however they’d like with separately sold, interchangeable charms that slip right on and off. Darby first came up with the idea while taking a jewelry-making course. She then brought on her two daughters, Camilla Upson and Emily Roberts, to join the venture when NUE Hoops took off as a full-fledged business, which now also boasts a variety of cuffs, huggies, and necklaces in addition to five base hoop styles.
“Our Mum was looking through an old jewelry box and thought about the joy her charm bracelet has brought her over the years,” Upson told us over email, who serves as marketing director and co-founder. “She wanted to emulate that concept but for earrings. What our fans love is the fact that they can buy a set of hoops and then go from a daytime to a nighttime look, just by switching the charms. I think it speaks to our customer’s desire to have creative freedom as well as control and flexibility over their jewelry,” said Upson.
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What begets is an effortless and luxe way to style an earring stack (especially for those who have multiple holes in each ear) because there’s “no need to buy a new pair of earrings every time they want to freshen up an outfit,” said Upson. She also adds that NUE Hoops has a strict “no brass policy” to ensure all earrings are suitable for sensitive ears. “[Our pieces are] made of recycled sterling silver and plated in 18-karat gold or rhodium, which is a noble white metal from the platinum family. The hoops are also waterproof, so they’re a better choice for the environment because they’ll last in the water.”
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As a person who has more earholes (“earholes,” lol) than I know what to do with, I decided to give NUE Hoops and its charms the stacking treatment to see how well these look mixed and matched — and I was quite pleased with how easy (and fun!) it was to experiment with the various gemstones, textures, and shapes. All of the hoops and charms are supremely lightweight and uncumbersome — I forget my lobes are laced with shimmering charms until the compliments roll in. And although the brand recommends removing the earrings while sleeping, exercising, and showering, I kept all NUE Hoops in for about two weeks straight for testing purposes — just to see how they held up in the event I get into some tussled activity. Reader, the hoops were not only secured throughout tennis, cardio dance, and subsequent showers, but they also haven’t shown any signs of discoloration after all this constant wear.
And, just this week, NUE Hoops released one of its most exciting innovations to date — the stacking charm — which “has a little hook on the back so it can be stacked vertically,” said Upson. “It’s a U.K. first as far as we know. We haven’t seen any other jewelry brand doing this type of stacking or using this design,” she said. With this cute stacker, wearers are able to take their charms to greater lengths, if you catch our drift.
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For readers who are interested in building their own hoop-plus-charm look, Upson has a few tips and tricks for styling your earscape. “If you’re going for a big charm, in general, it’s better to choose a smaller hoop — unless you’re going for a totally over-the-top or high-glamour look. The proportions should allow for one item to outdo the other for attention. So, if you want the charm to be the focus, choose a small hoop and let the charm speak. If you want a ‘big hoop look,’ go for bigger hoops and add a little charm as an accent.” For those who are dressing up multiple holes up the lobe, Upson’s also got a few suggestions for getting your best bling on: “If you’re stacking up the ear, mix textures, shine, and materials and size up the ear — for instance, start with bigger hoops and charms [at the base] and get smaller as you go up, finishing off with mini hoops or huggies.”
Of course, I also had to ask what it’s like to run an accessories brand with family, to which Upson said, “There will always be things to work on! Probably our biggest challenge is work-life balance and blurring the lines between the two. I would say we’re getting better at drawing boundaries between work and family time, but this is something that has to be enforced and policed!” As NUE Hoops heads into its third year as a brand, Upson does acknowledge that “things get easier as we get into the groove of communicating and understanding each other — from being able to be straight to the point and knowing that we’re all on the same team. We have immense trust and that is key,” she said of the bond she shares with her sister and mother as entrepreneurs. When it comes to stoking their creative juices, however, that seems to be where all three co-founders flourish. Developing new charms is “a tricky” task but, ultimately, a stimulating one. “We often use colors and icons as inspiration for a collection, and we also travel abroad — India and Greece are two places that have inspired us,” Upson said. “Ultimately, we’re collectors, and we’re always looking for things that totally capture us.” Spoken like a family who simply wants to share their massive love for charm collecting, we may add.
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