I was first introduced to Hampton Bangle Company a few months ago and thrilled for the connection. Known for creating eye-catching bangles and rocking the tagline "Get Happy," I wanted to know more about the brand and the brains behind the operation. I sat down to chat with Chris Jacobs, one of the founders, where he shared with me how the company started, what they have in the works and what he sees for the brand moving forward.
GENUINE JOY :: I'm always intrigued by the story behind the brand. Tell me how Hampton Bangle Company got started:
HAMPTON BANGLE COMPANY :: My wife, Kavita had started a resort wear business, Sexiguru, several years ago from our apartment. For the first few years it was a “nights and weekends” business and we started building a loyal following amongst some of the nicer resorts and boutiques around the world. We’d use our accessories for our photo shoots, and occasionally we’d offer them to our customers. People always loved them!
I have always been fascinated by the fact that a woman can “pull an outfit together,” or create a beautiful “look” by simply adding an appropriate accessory or two. Hampton Bangle Company was formed to feature some of the wonderful pieces that make versatile additions to anyone’s collection.
The decision to create a separate business for accessories was driven by the demographics of our target market. I wanted to see our accessories on everyone from current college age swimmers, to women I swam with at the Olympics in 1988 who are now wonderful, successful and beautiful women. Lots of my old teammates from ’88 are big fans of our resort wear and accessories but I wanted to get the bling onto the younger set!
While Hampton Bangle Company has a wide range of products and prices, our starting price-points are approachable for a fashionable twenty year old. While I would suggest some fun silk bangles and cuffs to add a pop of color to an outfit for the ‘just out of school” set, we have products that are enthusiastically purchased by affluent women in their mid 40’s. Hampton Bangle Company is the perfect complement to our resort wear business, LUV&LUX.
GJ: What a journey and an inspirational story! I love that the "devil is in the details" and I'm a big fan of small details, which really make a huge difference, especially in presentation. Talk to me about your packaging. I felt like I was a child opening a gift on Christmas with the beautiful ribbons, pink tags and silk cases.
HBC: I’ve always been very focused on details. My interests in photography, art and architecture and cooking have made me a detail person, but also someone very interested in the aesthetic. Oddly enough, I have also always been focused on packaging, whether it’s for food, fragrance or luxury goods. When it came to the planning for our packaging, I wanted the first (physical) impression made by Hampton Bangle Company to be ultra positive. Our goal was for our shipping boxes to elicit a visceral response from the recipient. We want a woman to smile with surprise and wonder when she first sees our box. Our web address is clearly printed around the box so she’ll make an immediate association with the brand. The packing that goes into the shipping box is tastefully designed, incredibly beautiful and utilitarian to boot! We also have a message on the bottom of the box, awaiting discovery. While the contents of the box are the most important part of the equation, we feel like we’ve done a good job on the packing as well!
GJ :: Ok. Another question on the packaging. Your tag line is "Imagine Happy"... can you elaborate?
HBC :: I have been taking pictures of graffiti for years, so whenever my wife and I travel, I will always search for graffiti and shoot it! We were in Istanbul a year or so ago and were shooting in some alleys in Taksim, which is Istanbul’s most politically charged area. The vast majority of the graffiti was political in nature and was obviously very dark in message. Most of the graffiti was comprised of pictures of gas masks and bombs and countless representations of dashed hopes.
Amidst this very beautifully but melancholy wall, was a small tag, maybe 3x4 inches, in black on a white and green background that said “IMAGINE HAPPY.’ To us, this very easily missed message was like a beacon in the dark, a little oasis within a battlefield. We felt really blessed to have seen it and felt it summed-up so many important things for us.
Bringing it back to accessories, women seem to adorn themselves when they’re feeling good. Donning accessories makes them feel even better. You can see a sense of satisfaction and contentment in a woman’s eyes when she is well put together. We feel that our accessories are a very simple way for a woman to feel great about what she’s wearing. We also believe that the first peek at our pink shipping box starts that positive association with our products. Like the saying, “fake it ‘til you make it,” “Imagine Happy” gets people over that initial hump.
GJ :: On your website, it says that you give a portion of your proceeds to charities and I especially like this quote from John Donne “no man is an island entire of itself.” How do you select the charities who will receive your donations?
HBC :: Though we are in the process of introducing two new lines that are made in New York City, a good deal of our manufacturing is done in India, where one finds the finest embroidery in the world. My wife grew up in Bombay and is particularly sensitive to the plight of impoverished young girls who will unlikely ever receive an education. Oftentimes, when an underprivileged family has boys and girls, the boys will be sent to school and the girls will work and hope to be married. We are working to identify and team-up with others who share similar goals and have existing, proven platforms. We also feel very strongly about The Smile Train, a charity that performs free cleft repair surgeries for children globally, thus allowing them the opportunity to live a more normal life. Our final charity, and the one that is most dear to my heart is Swim Across America, an incredibly well-run charity dedicated to raising money and awareness through swimming related events. Swim Across America provides many of the top researchers at the top cancer research centers around the US with unrestricted funds which allow them to develop and test an “idea” to the point where they would then have a product, worthy of larger-scale testing and development. SAA helps to get them to this point, after which, they have a much greater chance of receiving government funding for further development. Swim Across America has partnered with approximately 20 top hospitals and research centers in the US, many of which are focused on children and children’s cancer.
GJ :: Where does the day to day inspiration come from?
HBC :: This question brings me back to the lessons I learned through swimming. I am driven to be the best I can be and am always working to become a better person. My goal is to help to build a great and enduring brand. I am passionate about building this business as well as delivering a very high-quality product at an attractive price point. I have been plagued by a bad back for the last several years and as a result, my activities have been very limited. I still get-up at 5:08 each morning and begin my day with an hour or so of exercises and stretching for my back that allow me to function at a decent level.
GJ :: What’s next for HBC?
HBC :: We’re continuing to expand our product offerings, improve our website and finally begin doing some marketing. Our sister resort wear company, LUV&LUX is about to go live shortly and we’re very excited about that. Through LUV&LUX we offer beautiful cover-ups, tops, kaftans, shorts and other accessories. I’m very excited to say that LUV&LUX will be launching its first line of swimwear later this year.
Over the years I had become a bit more attuned to the value of accessories as well as the concept of less being more when discussing accessories. Many of our tops feature beautiful, hand done embroidery & embellishment around the neck, and in those cases, we’ll often discourage the wearing of a necklace. When it comes to wrists, the same rules apply, and when the wrist of the garment is heavily embellished we’ll suggest a very simple bangle or cuff.
I've always been more of a statement necklace girl and less so when it comes to bracelets, but HBC has changed that. The two ensembles I gravitate towards the most are the stacked bangles (Outer Banks, which go with everything from jeans and a T, to a day dress at Black-eyed Susan Day) or the Orchard, which is truly a statement piece. And without fail, I get complements on each piece, each and every time I wear them.
To learn more about the company, you can visit their website here.