Interview: Scotchbonnet

I don't think I'm alone when I say that I truly believe we're living in the golden age of statement earrings. It's not an exaggeration. So many makers are producing the most beautiful assortment of earrings, that it can be a little overwhelming deciding which ones to buy. Luckily, I'm going to take some of the work out it for you. Scotchbonnet is your next jewelry obsession, and Tracey-Renée Hubbard is the designer making it happen.

Tracey-Renée isn't one to shy away from bold colors, and she offers a selection of earrings for every mood. They're instant outfit boosters and look like works of art on their own. I loved learning about how Tracey-Renée started making her own pieces after being unable to find what she was looking for and the inspiration behind the brand's name and designs. Read on to learn more, and then head to her site to get a pair of earrings for yourself.

My pick: I can't get enough of how fun and bold the Hourglass Earrings are, especially in my favorite color combo - Sunsplash.

Q: Let’s start from the beginning. Can you tell me a little bit about the process of starting your business? What made you want to do this and how did you turn your idea into a reality?

A: I love for my earrings to be big, bold and colorful - but I also need for them to be lightweight. When I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, I started experimenting and found a way to make them for myself. I’m a self taught jewelry designer - I learned a lot by trial and error- and I really enjoyed having time to experiment with different handmade techniques without initially being a business owner.

I think my “hobby” blossomed into a bonafide business once I opened my e-commerce site and clearly defined my product line. My growth, thus far, has been mostly through word of mouth and social media.

Q: Was there a moment when you felt like this was something that was going to take off and become a success for you?

A: Once I started making earrings and accessories for myself, people would always stop and ask me where I got them from. I loved how my earrings became “conversation starters” and seeing the happiness they brought to other people gave me the confidence to start a business.

Q: Can you tell me a little bit more about your brand’s name and your influences?

A: I named my brand “Scotchbonnet” after the distinctively potent Caribbean pepper. I felt it was apropos because my accessories have a “punchy” vibe and are known for their vibrant hues, bold shapes and eye-catching patterns. When it comes to design aesthetic I am equally influenced by the flashiness of 90’s hip hop culture and the understated simplicity of modern luxury labels. I also have a special place in my heart for Caribbean culture (even though I grew up in Wisconsin!) and a deep respect for artisan crafts, particularly those created throughout the African Diaspora.

Q: Is this your full-time job? If so, how long did it take you to transition into full-time?

A: Yes! It’s my “full-time” job but I also have a 9-5 working as a creative director for a candy company.

Q: How do you usually decide on what to design next?

A: My collections are driven by color. I usually start with a feeling that I translate into a color and then play around with fun shapes and patterns until it just “feels right”.

Q: Obviously, we’re in strange times right now so I have to ask everyone I talk to - how has COVID-19 affected your business and what are you doing to keep everything going during this time? What can people do to support you and others during all of this?

A: I miss pop-up shops! (sad face emoji...the one with all the tears). They offer a great opportunity to engage and connect with customers. It’s really important for me to get to know my customers and understand how my accessories fit into their lives. Not having pop-up shops for the last several months has definitely slowed sales a bit. It’s always a great support when people share my IG, website link or refer my brand for press opportunities. That type of support and increased visibility means the world to small businesses like mine

Q: What’s one thing you wish more people knew about running a small business?

A: That growth is a sloooooooow process.

Q: Favorite item in your shop currently?

A: It’s not in my shop just yet - it will be there in late October. I’m really excited because it’s “something new” with a special story.

Q: What goals do you have for your business going forward?

A: I’m excited about continuing to expanding my customer base and scaling my business without losing the handmade element.

Q: Lastly, let’s spread the love. What are a few of your favorite small shops owned by women that you personally shop from?

A: I’m obsessed with LIT Brooklyn candles

Island Tribe has the dreamiest dresses ever

McBride Sisters makes an awesome Brut Rose

I’m always inspired by Farm Rio’s fun prints

Jenny Lemons curates such a fun and colorful boutique here in San Francisco

Trade Street Jam Co is literally my jam...and it’s vegan!

Follow along with Tracey-Renée

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