Statement earrings are IN, Memphis, and her designs are a dream

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The best jewelry isn’t just a pretty, sparkly piece to slip into before a night out. The best songs come with a story; they evoke memories and take you to faraway places. And that’s exactly what Farrell Lawo’s line, Hops & Bun Co., sets out to do. Her designs are inspired by the sea. By seashells, by the shore, by the sand and by the life you find in the ocean. She uses seashells found on inspiring walks along her favorite beaches – including Vero Beach, Florida and Eleuthera, Bahamas – to create dreamy pieces that are suitable for a mermaid.

With appearances in Condé Nast Traveler and British Vogue both under its belt during its first year of launch, Hops & Bun Co. has been a runaway success. But now Farrell finds her inspiration closer to home. As she seeks to welcome a girl in 2022 and settles in her home country of Tennessee, she has discovered a new creative community, while continuing to honor the gypsy roots that started her collection and art.

Farrell Lawo took the opportunity presented by COVID to turn a side activity into a full-time job. Meet the founder and creative brains of Hops & Bun Co. and our newest Memphis FACE!

You’ve gone from writing magazines to designing jewelry. Tell us about this transition.

I have always had Hops & Bun Co. as a side project while managing all the marketing aspects for a local magazine in Houston and Dallas. Back then, I was just creating artwork from oyster shells that I received from local restaurants. I knew that eventually I wanted to create something more geared towards the fashion / accessories market while continuing my art on a smaller scale. When COVID-19 hit, I found myself, like many others, in limbo from my job. They had to make a difficult decision to take their leave, and I took the opportunity to develop Hops and Bun Co.

My husband and I have decided to temporarily move to Vero Beach, Florida where my family has a home and “get over COVID.” It was the perfect opportunity for me to enjoy my therapeutic beach hobby, ‘take off’ – or as many call it ‘beach combing’ – and create beautiful jewelry from my finds. I started small with just the seashells I found locally, but eventually drew on my family’s seashell collection – thousands and thousands of seashells from all over the world, to start my jewelry business. I officially launched my shell jewelry in August 2020, and haven’t looked back since! What a blessing to be able to call something so fun and creative my full time job.

La Mer earrings by Hops & Bun Co.

Farrell takes finds on the beach and creates stunning jewelry. Image: Shelby Taylor Smith

How did you get the name Hops & Bun?

Oh darn! As many know who follow me on social media or know me personally, I had the BEST Holland Lop bunny for 7.5 years named Wrigley. He was so full of life and personality – people liked the fact that I had a pet rabbit so much. I had to fit it into the brand name somehow. This is how Hops & Bun was born.

And let me tell you, it’s such a conversation starter! I debated the company name change, but many said that was what attracted them to my brand – to see what it was about. Sadly Wrigley passed away in September of this year, but I can assure you he had the best bunny life and was SO loved. And who knows, maybe another rabbit will be in my future soon!

What was going on in your head when you pulled out your first big magazine article?

I had just launched my jewelry in August 2020 and received the email from Condé Nast in early October of the same year. I was sitting on the beach with my husband and literally screamed when I got the email! That something so huge to happen so quickly after launch was absolutely amazing. I am so incredibly proud. It was all I could talk about for months!

Shell earrings from Hops & Bun Co.

While no two seashells are the same, these pairs of earrings are a perfect match!

RELATED: Meet the Memphis Duo Behind Primas Bakery & Boutique

What’s your favorite piece from Hops & Bun Co. right now, and which pieces should we be hanging for 2022?

My favorite item right now is our very first original earring – our LA MER earrings. I think this will always be my favorite because it’s the earring that started it all and our bestseller two years in a row. Our shop is closing on December 11 of this year for the holidays, so most of my customers are aware and order months later. Currently, the three best sellers [for the season] are our original La Mer earrings, our inverted white mini mermaids and our gold painted oyster shell cross.

La Mer earrings

The LA MER statement earrings are a Farrell favorite. Image: Hops & Bun Co.

What is your favorite beach to relax in? What about creative inspiration?

I have two favorite beaches, which I grew up going on! Number one, French Leave Beach, Eleuthera, Bahamas. Really, you can’t go wrong with any of the beaches on Eleuthera Island; however, this one is very special. Not only is it known for its beautiful pink sand (yes, it’s really pink!), But it’s the beach where my grandparents spent most of their honeymoon years ago and where Erik and I took our post-wedding ceremony photos. It is absolutely breathtaking. A fun place to snorkel, a great beach to walk and talk about looking for sea glass and seashells – they’re everywhere! A true creative dream! You can climb the coral rocks and find inspiration at every turn.

My second favorite beach would be The Moorings Beach in Vero Beach, Florida. Most people say the bombing is not very good in Vero. I think it’s just because they don’t know where to look. I found some of the best seashells walking this beach for hours. Plus, one of the most magical moments happened on this beach when a nest of baby sea turtles hatched and made their way to the ocean. It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen!

Has your inspiration and creative energy changed or grown as you approach motherhood?

I actually find myself getting more creative and wanting to find more sustainable ways to create my seashells and jewelry. Also, I want my daughter to be so proud of the work I have put into the world… Timeless and creative pieces that she too will one day have. Seashells never go out of style!

Oyster crosses from Hops & Bun Co.

We love these beautiful crosses! Image: Hops & Bun Co.

Now that you’re back in Tennessee, how did you find a creative community? Have your hometown and the South embraced your business?

Being back in Tennessee has been so nice. Nothing like coming home after years of absence, right? And it’s a quick ride to the beach! It’s so nice to see how excited people are to discuss my work and talk about my next creative move. I’ve had people I haven’t seen since middle school or high school connect with me and buy my parts. A group of girls ordered my seashell earrings for a bachelorette party, and I got another order for a beach wedding next spring.

Even though Memphis isn’t a beach town there are a LOT of beach goers and beach house owners, so it was nice to tap into this group here and be their one stop shop for accessories and interior decoration.

What’s your number one tip for aspiring female entrepreneurs?

It’s cliché but keep your crowded side. Especially if this is your creative outlet. There will be challenges, but always persevere. Find new, creative ways to keep doing what you love and share your work with the world. Connect with other entrepreneurs and small business owners for help or advice; we are a small but strong group and we love to see creative and passionate people following their dreams!

Farrell Lawo of Hops & Bun Co.

Back in his home state of Tennessee, Farrell connects with friends, neighbors and other designers who love his designs.

Which small brands are on your must-have gift list this season?

All the colorful Estelle glassware, a fabulous sun hat by Sarah Bray Bermuda, a woven shell painted tote by Breck and Grier, and all the Hops & Bun Co shell earrings.

And what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I have received a lot of advice over the years. I have been fortunate to have so many wonderful people in my area who inspire me to be successful. My mom is the hardest working person I know (she teaches three and four year olds so her patience is amazing!). I think it’s so important, especially as a small business owner, to have such a core value like kindness in your daily interactions with people. It can change your whole outlook!

Beyond faith, family, and friends, what are the three things you cannot live without?

I really like a good ocean! I can’t live without the beach (obviously!), My English Springer Spaniel, Banks and COFFEE!

Thanks Farrell! Images provided by Farrell Lawo, unless otherwise noted.

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Meet more inspiring Memphis women by visiting our FACES archives.


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