"Less is more" says Ha Le of Less Is More Jewelry. She has built a successful jewelry brand around the idea that jewelry should complement a women's natural beauty rather than overwhelm it. Ha was introduced to jewelry making and design back in college when she took a jewelry class. Naturally, given her passion for art (especially drawing and painting) she was fascinated by the idea of designing and building something 3-dimensional. Since then, she has developed a jewelry brand that stays true to a gentle and luxurious style perfectly congruent to the brand's name- Less Is More. Ha believes in improving one's self every single day and uses her brand as a platform to positively impact the world.
Behind the beautifully feminine jewelry, there is a heartwarming charitable cause- one that has been with Ha since she was attending middle school in Vietnam. Smile Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam provides meals to disadvantaged, low-income Vietnamese workers and families that are in need of quality food and meal sustainability. Every Less Is More piece of jewelry sold provides a meal for someone in need regardless of their job, appearance or disability. Less Is More Jewelry also donates a portion of all sales towards the restaurant's survival and operation contributing to cooking ingredients, rent and gas/water bills. The brand's volunteers donate their precious time to the sustainability and daily operation of the restaurant, cooking meals in the tropical Vietnam heat and taking pride in the smiles each meal brings.
In her quest for development, Ha doesn't stop at jewelry. She incorporates everything she loves into her business and a love for nature is one of her greatest passions. She created Succulents Box which has since become a successful part of her brand, offering a variety of unique succulent species and a blog featuring succulent information and care tips. Ha's love for succulents comes as no surprise. They symbolize harmony and endurance, thriving in poor soil and low-water conditions thus serving as a perfect addition to a brand featuring such a kind, compassionate message.
Perhaps what will be most notable in the interview with Ha Le below is her humble and hardworking spirit. She allows us a look into her design process and provides some words of wisdom and inspiration for all creative souls that dream of one day building a brand out of what they love.
When did you start designing and making jewelry and how did you discover your love for this craft?
I first learned jewelry making skills back in college in a Jewelry class. I was a painter and drawer, so that jewelry class was my first ever experience creating something three dimensional. It was definitely more challenging as I had to think and execute more carefully so that my creations could be enjoyed from all different angles. Making jewelry has become my passion since then.
Can you describe your design aesthetic? What inspires you most in your work?
I believe that in every aspect of life, Less is More. Jewelry should complement a woman's natural beauty instead of taking away from it. Unlike bulky and heavy costume jewelry, my jewelry lays effortlessly on the neck, adding subtle sparkles and accentuating the neckline. The right gemstones can also bring out the color of ones' eyes, hair, and skin color.
"I believe that in every aspect of life, Less is More. "
How would you describe the Less Is More woman and what is the message behind this aesthetic and your brand overall?
The Less is More woman is modern, independent, sophisticated, and compassionate. She truly understands the beauty of life and appreciates precious little moments. She loves giving back and being kind to everyone around her.
What are your favorite materials to work with and why? Do you have a favorite jewelry piece/collection at the moment?
I love working with semi precious gemstones such as labradorite, and moonstone. They don't have the crazy price tags like diamond, ruby or sapphire, but they are beautiful in their own way. I love natural stones with impurity and imperfection such as rutile quartz because it is the impurity that make them unique. My current favorite collection is the Unity Collection. 5 little faceted gemstones are wire-wrapped onto delicate chain. When worn as a choker, the necklace gives very subtle sparkle around the neck. Based on the design of Unity Collection, I'm creating another collection called Celestial, in which there are longer necklaces that are great for layering.
Every artist has a very personal creative process. What is your design-to-production process? What are some of the steps associated with taking your jewelry from conceptualization to production?
I'm a more hands-on person. Rather than drawing on paper, I prefer playing with my materials and arranging them until I get the desired designs. I do a lot of research to learn about the current trends and other artists' aesthetic and designs. I believe that it's very important to stay updated and to improve myself every single day.
Tell us a bit about your charity work with Smile Restaurant? How did you get involved in this beautiful project and what is the message behind it?
I first learned about Smile Restaurant when I was in middle school in Vietnam. I always thought that it was a beautiful philanthropy that truly gives back and supports people in need. After starting my jewelry business, I didn't have to think twice about what charity my business would be supporting. Smile Restaurant provides thousands of quality lunches every day to disadvantaged Vietnamese workers that need energy to work and support their families. Not having to worry about spending their little income on lunches everyday allows them to save more money for their kids and old parents.
Charity seems to be at the heart of your brand which is very apparent in both the names of your collections and the meaning behind each piece. Where does your passion for charitable work originate and is there a personal story behind this connection?
Since I was a child, my parents have always taught me that "Giving is Receiving". Money can't buy happiness, but Kindness makes you happy, and Happiness makes you Kind.
Photo courtesy of Succulents Box
Tell us more about Succulents Box and what inspired you to create this unique addition to your brand?
Succulents Box started out as a hobby in order for me to share my love for succulents, but has since become a strong business. Nowadays, it is so easy for everyone to forget about nature, its beauty and spiritual benefits. Succulents are very forgiving and ornamental houseplants. I chose succulents as my jewelry's brand symbol because of their beauty and amazing ability to thrive in poor soil condition.
Photo courtesy of Succulents Box
"I believe that it's very important to stay updated and to improve myself every single day."
What have been the greatest challenges in starting your brand/business and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge is to stay focused and inspired. As an artist, I'm often distracted by the several wonderful opportunities that life presents. As my business grows, I can't simply do things spontaneously anymore, and there are various business related tasks that I have to work on. It's important for me to step out of my office and do gardening at least once every day in order to relax, recharge my energy and inspiration.
"Since I was a child, my parents have always taught me that "Giving is Receiving". Money can't buy happiness, but Kindness makes you happy, and Happiness makes you Kind. "
What is next for Less Is More and Succulents Box? Where do you see the brand years from now?
I'm currently working on the re-branding for both businesses. Hopefully in the next few years, both Less is More and Succulents will become nationally recognized brands that provide quality goods created out of love and passion.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a jewelry brand or business similar to yours?
I'd say, don't wait, pursue your dream right away! Most people are hesitant when thinking about starting a business because they think it is going to be so difficult and time consuming. It is because they begin with thinking too big, while in fact, in order to reach big, they need to start by thinking small. Create a small quantity of products, try to sell them at small markets, and go from there.
"... they begin with thinking too big, while in fact, in order to reach big, they need to start by thinking small."
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Today, allow yourself a few moments to explore and feel inspired and don't forget that everyday is an opportunity to learn something new. Never stop searching for what makes you truly happy.