Loren Barham was living in England when she starting making jewelry. She ordered parts out of catalogs from companies located here in Rhode Island. Later, back in her home state of North Carolina, she and her husband, Aaron, decided to get serious about jewelry, establishing Loren Hope. But they were still ordering from Rhode Island. The more they thought about it, the more it made sense to go where the parts were.
They moved to Rhode Island in February 2013 and set up shop in a mill building in Pawtucket. It was just the two of them at that point, but now, less than two years later, Loren Hope employees 10 people. Needing more room, they found a new “old” mill building, this time at the Greenwich Mills at the bottom of Division Street in East Greenwich.
“We really wanted to stay in an old mill,” said Barham at an open house Thursday. “We feel it’s a symbol of American manufacturing. Someone told me the Bostitch staple was made in this mill. I really love having natural light and occupying a space where people made things.”
She’s not kidding. Loren and Aaron are serious about helping restore manufacturing in Rhode Island.
“All of the costume jewelry, almost in the world, was made here in Rhode Island,” said Aaron, who serves as Loren Hope’s CEO. “Our goal, moving up here, was to help bring a manufacturing resurgence back to this state – create American jobs and get people back to work. That’s what we really wanted to do and it’s starting to work.”
And that the company is called Loren Hope – ‘hope’ being the motto of Rhode Island, but also, coincidentally, Loren’s middle name (the name predates their move) – seems destiny.
The costume jewelry – necklaces, bracelets, earrings, cuffs, anklets – has a vintage feel but with modern colors and details that make them perfect for today’s shopper.
Gov. Gina Raimondo was on hand Thursday to lend her support.
“I tell the story all the time that, once upon a time, Rhode Island was the jewelry manufacturing capital of the world,” said Raimondo. “We had so many companies. Unfortunately, most of them left, but now with Alex and Ani and you guys and other companies, it’s changing. So that means when you need talent – casters or gem specialists – you’re going to find them in Rhode Island. That’s a wonderful thing – a whole eco-system of talent and material and suppliers, right here.”
Raimondo said she wanted Loren Hope to find Rhode Island a good place to do business.
“You have my personal commitment to help you be successful because every time you add a job, Rhode Island’s stronger,” she said. “I expect you to do great things and I think I’m going to have to become a customer.”
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