Lauren Harwell Godfrey
Lauren Harwell Godfrey is the founder and designer of Harwell Godfrey, a bright and philanthropic jewelry brand based out of California. A former art director, Harwell Godfrey carefully selects all the stones with healing energy as her main focus. She describes her pieces as geometric, pattern heavy, and incorporating African influence. We are honored to feature her as our August Mujer.
Tell us a little bit about your childhood; where you grew up, what you enjoyed doing as a kid.
I was a really creative kid and was constantly drawing. I loved drawing faces especially. I was also very into sports – I competed in races, rode horses, played soccer, ran track… I was an art jock.
How did your life experience translate into your work? So much of your professional career has built upon creativity, first as an award-winning creative/art director for brands and then as a chef. How did you channel that experience into what you do today?
My career experience has definitely translated to my work. Thanks to my background as an art director and creative director, I have 15 years of experience building brands and solving creative problems. There’s a creative discipline inside me after years of developing it that I am able to tap in to. I am so very fortunate for that. I was never a chef – but I did go to culinary school and learned a lot about process. That’s what creating high volumes of food is really about – there is certainly talent involved but it’s also about having a process and working efficiently and intelligently which certainly comes in handy in the world of designing jewelry.
What was the first ‘aha’ moment you had when you believed Harwell Godfrey would be something?
At my first Couture trade show, I was an unknown and ended up getting an order from Twist, an incredibly important jewelry retailer. Their interest in my work really gave me the confidence that I was on to something.
What’s the design process like for you from start to finish? Do you start with an idea for a specific product (e.g., necklace, ring) or do you start with a stone? How do you pick stones?
It depends on the project. There are some projects where the stone leads the process and some where I have an idea for the overall collection or piece and the stones are figured out later. There are different ways I pick stones. I have stone vendors that I love to work with and go to the Tucson gem fair. In those cases, I will often find special one-of-a-kind stones that I don’t have a plan for and will create a piece that is for them. Then there are projects where I want something really specific, like my sun signs which are all about birthstones, or my Hexed collection which is about combining stones known to have healing properties.
Finish this sentence: “The hardest part of starting a business is….”
Do I really have to pick one thing? There’s having a good idea, then the money, then the time to do it… It’s really hard to narrow it down!
You leverage shape and color in such interesting ways. Do you feel jewelry should evolve in terms of look/shape like fashion where seasons favor different things or should it be more timeless?
I think it can do both. I think it is natural to be influenced by what is happening in the zeitgeist and have it show up in the work, but I also think that even though something has relevance to a specific time, it can still be timeless. For example, it’s easy to identify jewelry from the 70s but it can still be timeless. I think that good design can accomplish that.
You’ve talked a lot about stones and the specific energies they hold. Do you keep that in mind throughout the design process? Have you ever encountered stones that you don’t want to work with?
I keep it in mind for certain collections more than others. And I have certainly seen stones that I don’t want to work with for whatever reason. That’s part of my role – I get to be the stone gatekeeper! I do get turned off by certain stones – could be the color, the shape, the cut, maybe I just don’t have a good feeling about it. It happens!
You’ve used your platform for good, particularly with the creation of the Black Onyx Heart that benefits the NAACP, raising $126k to date! Have you always been vocal about causes you care about or did that change in the more recent climate?
I have always been a big believer in giving back if you are able to. I am on the board of and have worked for years with Futures Without Violence who does critical work to protect women and children against violence. I will say, in the current climate, my voice has become louder. If there was ever a time to really speak up about human rights and justice it’s now.
Every woman should have a _____ in their jewelry box.
How do you spend a typical Friday night?
At home, cozied up, winding down.
Favorite color of the moment?
Tequila and Top Chef!