Behind the Scenes: An Interview with Hayley & Jarod Faw
“Apse was a culmination of where our hearts were creatively, the newness of our marriage and our partnership, as well as this other kind of world of making that we had a foot in.”
After thirty minutes of fumbling with cords and buttons to remedy a DOA Skype connection (and finally switching to ole reliable Facetime)—we’re finally live. Hayley and Jarod cheer heartily for our glorious tech victory within my browser’s small frame, and it feels almost as if I’ve been swept back to Bellingham, WA for an in-person interview with the Apse Adorn crew.
I first met Hayley and Jarod while studying for my undergraduate degree at Western Washington University. At the time, I was on the editorial staff for a university journal, and found myself hanging around the Bachelor of Fine Arts students in hopes of curating an avant-garde project piece for Occam’s Razor—while falling fast for the BFA students’ community of idea-sharing, camaraderie, and wit. Hayley and Jarod both studied in the art program: it’s where they met, where they developed their craft, and where a deep friendship began between them. It’s also where the Apse dream was born.
All that seems oh-so-long-ago, as I peer into the brand new Apse studio space. Bo (“shop dog/head of security/cheerleader”) shuffles excitedly across the floorboards as sunbeams dart dreamily across the cardboard-and-wood-covered workshop at intervals. The fledgling space is the new headquarters for Apse Adorn, soon to become a brick-and-mortar shop for Apse Adorn products and partner social enterprises’ digs (like Apolis.)
Purchasing the shop was a tremendous step for the Apse duo, who have devoted their early marriage to building a brand based on compassion, integrity, and giving back. For every purchase, Apse Adorn donates 10% of their profits to HeForShe, Fight the New Drug, or the A21 Campaign, and customers have the option to choose which organization they prefer to donate to. While sourcing and manufacturing ethically is a major focus for the brand, Hayley and Jarod seek to demonstrate the beauty in safe and supportive male-female relationships.
“We both went to school to be fine artists,” Hayley begins, “and culture changers, too,” Jarod adds.
After their wedding, they each began to consider what direction to take their passion for making and for justice. “We got married,” Hayley remembers, “and I thought, I need a new way of making that really is first-hand playing into social change, instead of just talking about it, and instead of hanging the discussion in a gallery. I wanted to create a venue where this dialogue had no roadblocks to the culture. And I felt like taking my practice in a more product oriented-fashion could be a really interesting way to do that, and I could easily incorporate my heart for human trafficking and sexual abuse and equal rights into the whole project.”
At first, the two chased after individual pursuits. “We had separate projects we were working on,” Jarod explains, “and we were both pretty serious about them. But then one night we went out to dinner with a friend, who asked, ‘How’s your jewelry thing going, Hayley?’ and Hayley said, ‘It’s not going to happen.’—out of the blue!’”
Hayley elaborates, “my passion for the project had gotten to a point where I didn’t want to turn back, but I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. So I was at a roadblock: I could either build up some courage and ask my husband to lay down his plans for mine, or I don’t do my jewelry business at all. And I did- I asked him!”
“I don’t think you even asked me!” Jarod interrupts, laughing.
Hayley nods. “I came down the stairs and said, ‘Jarod, I can’t do this without you.’”
“So…don’t,” Jarod concludes—both giggling.
“And it was surprisingly simple!” Hayley laughs.
“Apse was a culmination of where our hearts were creatively, the newness of our marriage and our partnership, as well as this other kind of world of making that we had a foot in,” Hayley recounts, “and the social aspect of it stems from my heartbreak about how men often treat women, and how that is manifesting in our culture.”
Since the onset, Hayley and Jarod have been dedicated to developing a brand that can model and create space for safe relationships between men and women. While the need for a positive model was evident to them in books and popular media, the idea stemmed also from the couple’s personal experience as newlyweds.
“When we got married,” Hayley begins, “and I told people—they were scared for me.”
“Urghhhh!” Jarod ejects an unconvincing monster-roar, and we all collapse into laughter.
Collecting herself, Hayley continues, “And it wasn’t that they were scared for Jarod. They were scared for me. I was told, ‘You’re getting married, you’re going to be disrespected by your husband.’ So I want to emulate the excellence that is unity between men and women, and to become a place of healing through creativity and community.”
“We give to non-profits that are uniting men and women, but we’re also trying to encourage our audience through the way we treat one another, and to encourage them in the message of the union between love and creativity. A lot of people are creative but they’re not loving, but when you combine the two, you have a purity that’s really special and that’s what’s going to change lives.”
Though Apse’s social mission is their driving force, sourcing ethically and sustainably is crucial to their vision. Hayley and Jarod source all of their materials from within the USA, and everything is made by Hayley, Jarod, and another team member in their Bellingham studio.
Though sourcing materials ethically is non-negotiable for Apse, the commitment has not come without challenges. “Early on it was pretty difficult,” Jarod recalls, “especially to find carriers that could be consistent. At first we were getting these little gold square tube beads- they were so beautiful and we made a lot of designs with them- but now the only person that makes them is in South Korea, so we found a brass version from a mill based in Chicago. We have made alterations to designs [for similar reasons], and we’ve discontinued using certain things just because we couldn’t find consistent ethical suppliers.”
“It’s not that we’re against this global marketplace,” Hayley specifies, “we’re very much for it, but we could not find any information on the South Korean bead producer. I’m not going to buy something from a new source if I don’t first-hand talk to the source and ask them those questions."
Often, when Hayley and Jarod have contacted potential supplies with ethical sourcing questions, they have been told explicitly that the answers they sought were unavailable. “I’ve gotten from people, ‘sorry, we don’t reveal that information- those exact words',” Hayley says with evident frustration. “And direct connections to global craftspeople are not super easy to make, although it would be excellent at some point to have that kind of relationship.”
Currently, the duo seeks to source many of their materials locally, such as the jewelry boxes which are laser cut by a Bellingham craftsperson. Hayley and Jarod also plan to experiment with more sustainable ways of making, such as by employing a local metal cutting company that uses water jet cutting: a more environmentally friendly method.
“It’s been an evolution of realizing what works and what doesn’t,” Jarod summarizes, citing leather for an example. “Leather has a huge impact on the planet. So we had a dilemma: thinking on one hand that leather will last longer, so people will consume less of it, but also that it takes this toll on the environment.”
“We’ve finally found a consistent supplier for our leather bolo cords- that’s probably the longest dilemma that we’ve had. We now use a synthetic vegan leather bolo cord sourced from the US. So, there’s a balance between, ‘this is not a natural material, so it has to be made,’ but then we’re not feeding into the leather industry. When we do use leather, we try to use leather scraps, and we’ve found a great scrap leather place thirty minutes from Bellingham. So it’s a balance, and we try to keep a vegan mind-set.”
The two are most excited about their forthcoming bridal line, which is based on workshop scraps to combine design and waste minimization. Since ethics and sustainability are deeply important to both Hayley and Jarod, Good Journey asked for the Apse duo’s top tips on becoming an ethical shopper.
Jarod responds immediately: “Read!”
“Seriously!” Hayley agrees, “Just read. The research is literally at your fingertips, and it’s never been easier to know what you’re buying! Just take two minutes and read with your eyes. I think we’re so used to scrolling through images and not reading texts that people have translated that to their shopping.”
Rapid-click shopping is a socially and environmentally destructive practice that Hayley and Jarod hope to challenge through their soon-to-launch e-commerce site.
“How can we use this e-commerce platform to change the speed of online shopping?” Hayley asks, “To change the attitude? To change the disconnect? It’s so easy to press buttons and wind up with something at your doorstep, so that’s our next kind of project!”
“It’s the same with food,” Jarod adds, “read the back of it to see what’s in it. Make sure you know what you’re consuming. I think that alone goes a long way. Knowing what you’re getting. If you know what you’re buying, you’ll be a conscious consumer. In a way being on Etsy is cool because we can be missionaries for conscious consuming. We give customers a box with all the information about our brand and the non-profits we donate to, and each piece is a symbol of deep truth that’s meant to adorn them and remind them of their inherent value, and hopefully they’re encouraged by that and it helps them in the future.”
We’re so excited for all that Apse Adorn will challenge, strengthen, and build up in coming years. Shop Good Journey's favorites from Apse Adorn here. See the rest of their gallery here.
Written by Savannah DiMarco