You know those time-honored pieces that you just can’t leave the house without? The ones that you’d be utterly distraught if you were to misplace? Well, Marisa Haskell’s boho-meets-rock-'n'-roll jewelry fits that bill, exactly. We’re enamored with the baubles' rustic design, mixed with leather, crystals, and other earthy elements that pair oh-so-seamlessly with...well, everything! So, we hit up the designer's art-peppered, Temescal Alley studio-slash-shop to see how she gets inspired.
Not only did we peek into the boho babe's creative process, we also captured her standout sartorial choices (accessorized, of course, with her own luxe creations). Ready to take a dive into the dreamy world of this talented Oakland maker? Let’s do this!
Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
How did you get into jewelry designing and what’s the one thing you love most about it?
"I started by just making myself the kinds of things I couldn't find in stores. I wanted big leather necklaces, so I made them. The more I made, the more ideas I began to have. I love that with jewelry you can make pieces that are really crazy and still be able to wear them. The scale is so small compared to clothing, that it is an easy way to be bold in your wardrobe."
Marisa's studio is laden with relics — she worked on the wood build-out herself!
We love all the materials you use in your pieces. What’s the inspiration behind this process?
"The materials are the foundation of design to me. There is an aesthetic line that is pulled from the nature of the materials themselves. You have to study them, find what is unique, and explore what best utilizes, or challenges, their natural characteristics. Many of my favorite artists, Eva Hesse, Andy Goldsworthy, Frank Stella all draw from the core materiality of what they are working with in order to create. You can start with a concept, but the materials will determine the design and the minutia that make it unique."
Tools of the trade!
What’s your philosophy when it comes to accessorizing?
We’re crazy about all the art in here. Tell us more about it.
"The art is all by Meagan Donegan
and her twin sister Ryan Donegan. Meagan and I met seven or eight years ago when we were both living in Sayulita, Mexico. She is actually how I was first introduced to Temescal Alley. She had an art studio-slash-gallery space. It was just her and a 92-year-old who had an antique store back there at that time. She is an incredible artist — and she is coming out with an accessory line in the next couple of months."
Just some of Meagan Donegan's rad prints for sale!
So many choices — a glimpse at the artistic displays in Marisa's studio and shop!
How would you describe your personal style?
"Boots, denim, a little feminine, a little tough."
Marisa kicking it with her designs in a vintage black dress and Navajo belt.
And what about your designs? How would you describe their aesthetic?
"A little rocker and a little bohemian."
Do you feel your personal style aligns with the look of your jewels?
"I think so!"
A close-up shot of some of Marisa's creations!
If you could wear one of your own pieces forever, which one would it be?
"Probably, the Laramie
. I always have on a whole family of necklaces, though, so would be a little tough to downsize."
Wall of goodies!
We love your shop here in Temescal Alley. What do you like about being based in Oakland?
"As far as my business is concerned, I love how community-oriented people are here. There is definitely a sense of pride in Oakland that makes people enthusiastic about supporting local designers and shops. I love how having the shop has been a gateway to meeting so many interesting people, many of whom have become good friends over time."
Not-so-mellow yellow! Marisa shines in J Brand jeans, an Ali Golden top, and an Ace & Jig jacket.
Does living in Oakland impact your aesthetic at all?
"I would think so. Living here, you still get the laid-back California element, but it can be a rough place to be at times, which makes you a little self-protective. I think my aesthetic has toughened up a little because of that."
What are some of the influences behind your pieces?
"Old tribal art, textiles and jewelry from Africa, the Middle East, and Central and North America. My dad was an antique dealer and he worked mostly in American Indian art and artifacts for a long time. He would come home with a dingy, ripped-up cardboard box and you would look inside and there would be a collection of Navajo jewelry and sets of 400-year-old Spanish spurs. Our house was a repository for amazing pieces from different cultures and I think that works its way into your design subconscious."
Vivid colors and layering!
How long does it typically take you to complete a design?
"There isn't really an answer to that question. I am always working on new ideas, but they will start as little fragments. When it is time to complete a new season, I typically wind up sitting at my work table until 10 p.m. every night for about two weeks before creating anything I can get excited about. From that point, there is a family of concepts that starts to come rolling out. But starting — that's the killer."
Marisa arranging some of the jewels on the wall!
Who are some of your favorite designers or brands?
"I have some friends up here who are great designers: Ali Golden
, Lauren Wolf
, Job & Boss
. I am oddly out of tune with the fashion world though, so this is a surprisingly tough question."
Taking care of business! Marisa's business cards sit among some quirky bric-a-brac.
We love that you’ve incorporated rings and such into the collection. What item do you plan on tackling next?
"Hopefully, sculpted cuffs and more rings. Also, I am starting to work on a collection of fine jewelry."
A cute vignette of mixed materials!
Do you listen to music when you work? If so, what are your fave tunes?
"We are definitely always listening to music at work. The stereo speakers were one of the first investments I made in my business. We listen to a wide range, everything from Dolly Parton and Townes van Zandt to Zambian psych rock."
A peek at the workstation!
When you’re not designing, what can we find you doing?
"Definitely lots of production work in the studio and keeping the business running or trying to go cycling in the hills, playing music, and going out at night."
Marisa outside her shop in a Joie dress and a vintage jean jacket.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
"It was actually from an ex. He told me to make something insane — to make pieces that would never really sell, but would create a story. It can be hard to let go of something being sellable when you are in business, but it is essential to give yourself that space. Forget about the number crunching. Make something crazy, even you are the only person that will ever want to wear it."
Signed and sealed!
Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile