SoZo Hand-Crafted Creationz: Jewelry Inspired By Nature
Hayle Challacombe lives an inspired life. This articulate, yet soft-spoken woman is an Orange County native, initially raised in Yorba Linda, and has lived in Huntington Beach for 15 years. At the young age of 25, she's already deeply in touch with nature and the world around her. Her whimsical jewelry reflects this, and we couldn't be more excited.
According to Challacombe, Sozo is a Greek word that means "saved, healed and delivered." She elaborates: "That word means a lot to me and the spiritual influence in my life. The freedom I've found through that, through love." She explains that jewelry is her way of releasing that feeling and message into the world. Of her work, Challacombe assures, "It's definitely spiritually-inspired. I love nature and the creator of nature."
SoZo Hand-Crafted Creationz all began with acquiring the work of another fellow artist in Humboldt County on one of Challacombe's many travels. A little over three years ago, she encountered a young man selling rings he made to earn gas money to get to Oregon. Challacombe purchased one, and the rest is history. Never having made jewelry before, she studied the ring and thought it was something she could do. "I always like to work with my hands, get creative and see how things flow together," says Challacombe. "I feel that making jewelry is the best way to do that for me. It's one of the best ways to express my creativity."
With that in mind, she began making necklaces and rings about two years ago. She initially gave them to friends and family as gifts. It was Challacombe's close friend David who played an integral role in her making them available for sale. "You gotta do this, you gotta hustle, you gotta make a business out of this," he told her.
"I finally started taking steps towards doing that," says Challacombe. The business side of her craft is still in its infancy. SoZo Creationz have been selling for just two months at Huntington Surf and Sport on Main Street, where Challacombe has been employed for eight years. Currently, only rings are for sale. Challacombe wants to incorporate necklaces as soon as she can find a secure way to display them at the store. When we spoke with her, the store display was temporarily down due to theft. Of the 12 pieces she handcrafted for the inaugural sale, six have sold and three were stolen. The display will return once Challacombe scores a locking one. Copper SoZo pieces are priced at $24.99, and silver at $35.99. She has been spreading the word through her Instagram account, and hopes to make her pieces available on Etsy as well as create a personal website in the future.
The newest place to house her "creationz" is our Made In HB Marketplace, which features her beautiful Cosmic ring.
The appearance of the SoZo pieces is another story unto itself. Challacombe adds that "nature is definitely a big inspiration." All rings are crafted from high-gauge copper or silver wire and hand-formed with only needle-nose pliers and a mandrel, which is a ring sizing tool. No two pieces are alike. "Each piece has a story and is a different reflection on what's inside of me," she says. Swirling or spiral shapes are a common theme in her designs. She has always liked the shape, which exists everywhere in nature, including shells and our galaxy. Wrapped with the copper or silver wire are varied gems like turquoise, tiger's eye, amethyst and even abalone shell. The gem is twisted into the wire design in whichever way she sees fit.
"There’s not much of a formula with it, I just see where it goes," says Challacombe, adding that each ring organically takes shape in her mind. The process from start to finish takes from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. Challacombe has a studio-to-go of sorts. All of her materials and tools are stored in a chest with a handle so she can create wherever she is. Every piece is created in the great outdoors, so nature can lend its inspiring powers to her work. "Laguna is one of my favorite places," she says, adding, "It's so beautiful. I just love it there!" She tries to visit daily to create at her go-to spot, "Top of the World."
Challacombe admits she sometimes gets "writer's block" when formulating a piece in her mind. This can happen if not working in a natural setting. Reflecting on her work overall, she says, "I like taking pieces of what I love about the world, all the beauty that can be found in nature…I like to utilize that and make something out of it too." We like where this young entrepreneur is headed.
Follow SoZo Hand-Crafted Creationz on Instagram.