HARD JEWELRY is a jewelry company based out of Ogden, Utah that has the hardest jewelry in the game right now. We spoke with the founder Will about his experience starting the company in 2017 to now having his own warehouse and a massive community of loyal supporters from around the world. In addition, Will also spoke with us about his upcoming pop-up in Los Angeles, his advice for other young creatives looking to market themselves online, and his vision to build HJ into a powerhouse for the best content and jewelry while always treating his community like family.
Where are you from?
Will: I’m from Ogden, Utah. I’m living in Brigham City right now though which is kind of in the middle of nowhere. I wish I could go outside and show you right now. There’s like anvil shops and gas stations that are only selling diesel.
You’ve been in Utah your whole life?
Will: Yeah my whole life.
When did you start Hard Jewelry?
Will: I started it senior year in 2017. Before Hard Jewelry I had this thing called Hard Vintage where I was selling vintage clothes. During senior year I took out a loan with my grandma for $2000. I begged her since I didn’t have enough money for a car and it was senior year and I wanted to drive. While I was selling vintage I crashed the car and couldn’t go to the thrift stores anymore so I decided to start drop shipping from eBay. I'd take the pictures from stuff people were selling on eBay for like $5 and list it on Etsy. If someone bought it on Etsy I’d just buy it on eBay and ship it to them. I was making decent money from that but I was sad because I couldn’t drive and I was $2000 in debt. I was broke. I started selling jewelry at the end of senior year after my homie showed me this website called wish.com which is this Chinese website that will sell you anything for super cheap. He showed me their website and they had some Uzi necklaces that I bought and put on my Etsy shop. I sold like four my first day. At the time I was still in debt with no car and I was having my brother take me to school, so I was at square one. I was even taking Ubers to drop off orders sometimes. I decided to make the Hard Jewelry Instagram from the Hard Vintage name and started promoting on there. I went onto X’s page right after he got out of jail and started promoting my stuff through the comments and by following people. I swear that still works. Not necessarily from the comments but from reaching out to your niche. Senior year of high school I dropped the XXX chain that I made and then I had money to get my own manufacturer so I was able to let my creativeness go crazy.
What made you want to start making jewelry?
Will: This girl that I was kinda dating in high school was super into jewelry. I had her in mind when I started it and I just wanted to figure out how to make it happen the homies who were trying to get some dope jewelry. It was either that or clothes. I always tell people that if I wasn’t making jewelry I’d be making clothes.
Was fashion big for you growing up?
Will: Yeah it was super big for me, it still is. I’m not really anal about everything I wear having to match or whatever but I like to dress how I'm feeling.
How did you start to market yourself and your brand early on?
Will: My brand didn’t really take off until this year. Before that I was kind of running it how everyone else does. I’d still add my own sauce back then but this wasn’t my life. When I really decided to make this my life it took off. That's when I started posting pictures of me doing funny stuff and I started to drop pieces that my homies and demographic would really want. I also started doing giveaways early on. As a marketing strategy I'd pay fanpages with 70k followers $10 for a 24 hour post that would get me like 400 followers and 15 sales. I’d make like $400 just off of one post. It was fan pages like @playboicartimemes. I remember I was in a competition with that homie which I thought was hilarious since he's a meme page. He’d literally just post pictures of Playboi Carti and other funny shit. I remember I was at 20k and he was at 20k so I was like bet ima beat his ass. When I hit 50k I checked his page and he was at like 56k. He’s the homie though I’ve definitely sent him some stuff.
All your engagement with your community online is super raw from Instagram to Youtube. Were you always confident with your image and the content you put out online?
Will: Yeah I think so. I was always down I just didn’t always know if it would work or not. Shoutout to the Hard Jewelry community though. I swear they’re a part of me. Whenever I see somebody with Hard Jewelry on it’s nuts. We’re on the internet and you see them all day but when you actually meet them in person it’s a different level. They’re literally like us it’s crazy.
When did you move into the new warehouse?
Will: We barely moved in two months ago. We're still working on setting stuff up and decking it out. But after high school I was doing Hard Jewelry alone for about a year. At first I was just fulfilling out of my house and my mom and my best friend Nick would help me a lot of the time. Shoutout Nick, that homie would work graveyard shifts but he’d still come kick it and we’d play League of Legends and fulfill. But I knew I was fucking up when I hadn’t answered any emails for four months. One week in 2017 we just stayed up all night watching Asspizza vlogs and answering emails. I was in my old house before we got evicted in 2018 and now I have two homies working for me. Nick and our really good friend Chris who quit his job at Staples and started working for free for like two months. That really allowed me to focus on the content which helped grow the community. I owe it all to my team because they really helped everything fall into place. Every day I’m learning to be a leader with them too so that we can scale the company. But when I got evicted from my house Chris found a house with Nick where we set up HJ. We didn’t have enough money for a warehouse so we just took over the basement. I remember our Valentine’s Day sale was a real turning point where we had 1000 + orders. Shoutout to my team because they were always down for it from the beginning. Their lease ended like two months ago and I was tripping a little bit since I didn't know where we'd work so I decided to get a warehouse for the Hard Jewelry team and we moved in.
Who else is on the Hard Jewelry team?
Will: My brother who's like my best friend and then our friend Saul. So it’s me, my brother, Chris, Nick, and Saul.
Were your first pieces chains or were you doing pendants and rings as well from the beginning?
Will: At first there were just pendants and some bracelets. Pendants were where I was able to see a little doorway into making custom stuff. I want all our jewelry to be custom stuff that you’d want to get from a jeweler.
Has your design style changed since you started?
Will: I feel like I’m just starting right now. I keep telling the homies that this new collection is gonna show people our real flavor.
Are you doing most of the Hard Jewelry designs?
Will: Yeah I'm making pretty much all of them. I’m in charge of the feed, the designs, and manufacturing.
Is detail something that’s really important to you?
Will: Now it is since we have the resources and money to do so. Now we have a place to fulfill and the money to get the designs we want. Every part of the piece of jewelry is gonna be custom. Not to the point that it’s corny but to the point where it'll be really unique. We have like 6 new bails being made so that everything is custom.
What does your creative process look like when coming up with new pieces?
Will: I feel like I’ll never run out of ideas. It could come from video games, medieval stuff, anything you can think of. This new collection has a few medieval pieces that are coming. I have a designer too who's very creative. If I have an idea I'll let him know and he'll go crazy on it.
What’s your favorite piece you’ve designed to date?
Will: I used to say the hellhound a lot. I’d still say the hellhound but I’m trying to dig into the new collection. I probably have 20+ pendants being made right now so it’s hard to pick from that. But I'd say my favorite piece is a custom chain link that’s cathedral themed. It's sharp.
What’s the craziest?
Will: There’s a spikeball piece dropping that's like four pendants in one with a bunch of skulls connected.
Are there any other types of jewelry that you’re planning on experimenting with?
Will: Yes but I want to focus on what we’re doing right now. I’m gonna collab with this homie on pearls but other than that it’ll just be simple, clean, intricate pieces. I really listen to my people and they just want new stuff to drop.
When is your LA popup happening?
Will: I was shooting for August 17th but we’re trying to drop this Nike skull chain and my manufacturer said we have to take a whole new approach to creating it. We have to make a metal mold that takes an extra 12 days and we have to electroform it which is basically fusing metal together. These pieces are gonna cost like $50 to make so I’m gonna have to be selling them for like $80 at the popup. But it’s gonna look exactly like the sample. It'll be the highest end jewelry we’ve made so far. I don’t want to push the date back but I want to have some exclusive stuff available.
I know Dylan from WWY is coming but who else is gonna be there?
Will: We’re gonna have the homie Demetrio pulling up with the HJ and Eternal hoodies. We already dropped one before with the big skull on the front and HJ on the back. We’re gonna drop those in a black colorway with 3M print so they’ll be reflective. Dylan’s probably gonna bring some Air Force’s and I'm not sure what else. I want him to promote it too so it’ll be like a little meet and greet with a bunch of people. That would be so live, I can't wait to meet Dylan.
What should we expect to see from that event?
Will: The new collection and sculptures. I haven’t previewed those yet since I want them to be a surprise but we’re gonna have sculptures for sale that are 3D printed. I'll probably have like 12 of them for sale. They’ll all be super clean.
Is there a Hard Jewelry x WWY collab coming?
Will: Yes bro. This is why I’m saying Dylan’s slept on. Dylan’s the type of homie to not tell you anything and then just send you pictures of some crazy shit one day. There's a fire T-shirt coming that I've already taken some pictures in. Then there’s shorts coming too with a pillow, pendant, and some other stuff. The hoodie is my favorite. I wanna give some stuff away after we do the drop too.
You’ve always been super engaged with your supporters online, but what’s it like meeting them in person?
Will: It’s nuts, I totally fangirl when I see then. I really do it’s crazy. I’m always grateful when I meet them because it feels like I’m meeting a homie. At popups I hangout with the homies there all day.
What made you want to start designing Hard Garments as well?
Will: I've always wanted to make clothes. I’ve been sitting on designs for like a year now so I was sick of waiting. I have new clothes being made right now too. I have a pair of shorts and a couple more T-shirts coming hopefully before the end of the summer.
Where did you get the idea for the graphic on those tees you just dropped?
Will: I met this designer on Instagram @vaguerose.jpg who’s into vaporwave. He made the whole design with the gas mask and chains. I asked him if he could do a certain kind of text over it and bring the chains out and he was able to make it happen. I mocked it up on a shirt in photoshop and got some samples made and knew I had to drop it. I sat on the design for like 3-4 months though and then it took another 3 months to get it all made how I wanted. But now I have a manufacturer on lock that’s in Salt Lake so that should help in the future.
Should we expect to see more clothing drops from HJ in the future?
Will: Yes definitely and then that WWY collab. Dylan is already on but I’m about to make that homie go crazy I swear. I usually don’t promote people at all but Dylan’s gonna be the first person since that's my brother. I’m gonna push Dylan all the way up because I know he’d do the same for me. And I’m not even trying to push him up, I’m just gonna make sure his collab does better than anything else because this shit’s so fire. That’s why it’s a no-brainer. Shoutout to Sam from Half Evil because he plugged us together. It was so random, I think he just texted me one day and asked me if I knew @dylangrails from WWY. I posted some random WWY stuff the next day and Dylan commented saying that it was his shirt. I checked his stuff out and realized it was lowkey really similar to mine in a way. So Sam put us in a group chat and then Dylan and I just started talking and we really clicked.
Are there any other garments or accessories you want to experiment with?
Will: I’m not gonna make anything that’s corny. I’m just trying to experiment with the jewelry and go crazy with that. I do want to make cargo pants though. I’ve seen a lot of inspiration from skate companies from the UK and they drop the hardest cargo pants. So I’m trying to get inspiration from that to do something similar.
Are there any other brands or designers you want to work with in the future?
Will: I set my expectations so low for stuff like that. I’m blessed to be working with Dylan because we're so compatible. People hit me up about collabs but I don’t know if it’ll ever happen. The way that Dylan and I work is just easy. So as for right now I'm just working with Dylan and then we'll see what happens.
How did JID end up getting the angel chain?
Will: For the people that don’t know, there’s this one HJ supporter that would literally die for the brand. His name is David Lenenberg. This homie snapchats my brother multiple times a day and he was hyping it up for a month saying that he was gonna go to a JID concert and get him some HJ. David went to the concert and my brother showed me this snap of him freaking out saying that he gave JID the chain. 30 mins later we got another snap of David screaming and filming JID wearing it at the concert. Then he just kept the chain. I don’t know how he followed us. I think he just saw the photo we posted and all the love we were showing. That story is just a testament to HJ in that our supporters are really the backbone of everything we do.
Are there any other music artists you want rocking Hard Jewelry?
Will: No. It would have been X but I don’t know who else to be honest.
You’ve come a long way in a short amount of time. What was it like when you hit 100k on Instagram?
Will: It was a just a "hell yeah" to the Internet. It made me feel really good about the implications of what we're doing. If we can go from 30k to 100k in 6 months we can do anything since I was hoping to hit 100k sometime in 2020. It made us reroute the gameplan a lot since we now know we can do so much more.
Where do think you’ll be in the next 6 months?
Will: Our jewelry game is gonna be quadrupled in terms of quality, options, and originality. We're really just gonna be a marketplace that you can rely on for affordable heat. I also want to make affordable sculptures. The way that we design jewelry allows us to make any pendant a sculpture if we want because we use STL files which you can put into the 3D printer. So the sky’s the limit with sculpting. That’s definitely gonna be a part of our future. I just want people to never question their purchase from us, that’s our goal.
What does the community you’ve built around HJ mean to you?
Will: It feels like people have my back more than just talking on the internet. It’s a family for real and that goes for the whole community. For you to understand it you’d have to be there in real life to see how we interact, it’s a real family.
Is there any advice you’d give to someone looking to successfully market themselves online?
Will: Know your audience. It’s crazy because I did some analytics and the top of my audience has the same favorite artists that I do. Travis Scott is my favorite artist and some Facebook demographic stuff showed that the highest percentage of my followers liked him, Lil Uzi, and then ASAP Mob or something. So know who you’re trying to target. You should be targeting people like yourself since they’ll gravitate towards what you're doing. As for the content, don’t overthink it. Don’t be insecure when it comes to your dreams. It’s okay to let the world know what you’re working on and your failures because that makes them feel more invited. And if you can put your face out there do that because if people can see a face they have somebody to remember the brand by. Remember the content but if you have a fire product or an original idea you can do whatever you want. All you have to do is post and make sure your captions make sense and you can succeed. Just watch Gary V and post. You can’t do wrong listening to Gary V. He’s a surgeon for business and marketing. Listen to what he says and then it’s on you to do the rest. Don’t try to be perfect with your content either, just post it and let the people decide. I’ve barely started training that mindset for the past two months and it helps me post stuff that I wouldn’t have before. Those kind of posts get the most engagement. After 1000 posts it does get easier but I still get nervous to post sometimes because I'm human.
What should we expect to see from Hard Jewelry next?
Will: Expect to see better Youtube content. The Hard Jewelry warehouse is gonna be like Lyrical Lemonade in terms of being a powerhouse for content, jewelry, clothing, and sculptures. You don’t even have to buy anything, just watch us grow.
What do you want Hard Jewelry to become?
Will: I want to make the most creative jewelry in the world. These ideas that I have up next will be stuff that even the Queen of England could rock. Just straight up some universal jewelry that's gonna catch people’s eyes and resonate with them as being the best jewelry. I didn’t think that I’d be in this position but that’s the goal. It isn't about hitting any numbers for me, I just want to leave my mark on the world with jewelry. I still feel like we’re so slept on. Every day I wake up with that mentality with my whole team, it keeps us in our zone.