I am sharing a bit of local love today that is certain to become internationally coveted.
I am crazy for the whimsical pieces that spark serious joy.
“Serious jewels for those who don’t take themselves too seriously.”
Enjoy getting to know
Jenny Crane McHugh
What is your training?
I don’t have formal training in jewelry design – just a lifelong obsession with the art of jewelry that has fueled my education and ‘on-the-job’ training. Although I am primarily focused on Campbell + Charlotte, I spent ten years focused on another jewelry business for which I hand made all of the jewelry. It was a different product and different collection but taught me a lot about good jewelry design before I started Campbell + Charlotte.
What inspires you and your designs?
My daughter, Campbell, is my number one inspiration. It was after she was born, almost three years ago, that I made the outrageous decision to leave the safe corporate world and pursue what was a lifelong dream of designing my own fine jewelry collection. After she was born, I had a full blown ‘mama moment’ where I was driven to do something that had true meaning to me and would make her proud of her mama. I am motivated to show her that hard isn’t impossible and that passion, hard work and grit can get you a long way.
In terms of inspiration for my designs – I find inspiration everywhere but mostly in the simplicity of things that you have to pay attention to notice. I’m always looking at how lines, shapes and objects interact with one another to see if I can translate these interactions into a fun design. I am also obsessed and completely inspired by gemstone – oftentimes I will find a stone I love and then design a piece specifically to bring out the beauty in that stone.
What is your favorite piece? pictures if possible… (pics attached)
Hard to choose one! I narrowed it down to two:
Found Collection Emerald Cut Pendant Necklace in Malachite: This was one of the very first pieces that exploded out of my brain when I finally gave myself the permission to really design the collection. It is a custom cut piece of malachite to form the unique pendant shape and then we drill the diamonds into the stone.
Juju ROAR Charm Necklace: This one has kind of a dual meaning. It was literally inspired by my daughter when she was learning animal noises. She loved to ‘roar’ and would run around the house ‘roaring’. It is such a special memory that still makes me laugh. But it is also somewhat of a message to her that she is strong and powerful – two things I love about her and that I hope she will take with her as she grows up.
How has the your area influenced your work?
One thing I love about Charlotte is that women aren’t afraid to mix a bold pattern together. I am so inspired by colors that I’m always looking for inspiration in the bold pattern combinations I see around Charlotte.
What is your favorite restaurant in Charlotte?
I will admit that, post baby (and now, of course, covid), we have a lot less time than we used to to explore restaurants around Charlotte. My husband and I have spent quite some time on the outside patio of Foxcroft Wine Bar – they are so low key about bringing along the bambino and have great wine! I also live and die by a cheese plate and they have a great one.
What is your favorite cocktail?
My dad fancies himself a hobbyist bartender so he is always mixing up something super tasty. He has a grapefruit margarita that I have been drinking for years that is probably my favorite.
How do you balance personal life and work?
Ugh, next question 🙂 This is so hard – I have intense mom guilt and intense work guilt so I just take it day by day. I think the thing I am most focused on right now is to be present wherever you choose to be – it won’t always be a healthy balance between work and family but if you can at least commit to being fully present in whichever you choose, I think you have had a small win for the day.
My family and I grew up going to Anguilla for relaxing beach vacations. It is still one of my favorite places – the beaches are beautiful and the food is delicious. I talk about it all the time and still haven’t had the chance to take my husband so I think that would be high on the list right now.
It is always so humbling when a fellow designer compliments your work so I would say that a fellow jewelry designer requesting a custom piece would be top of the list. Some of my favorite jewelry designers are: Lydia Courtielle, Marie Helen de Taillac, Daniela Villegas and Andrea Forhman.
Your favorite host / hostess gift to give?
I love to bring a plant in a cool pot that reflects the host/hostess’s personality – that way the gift lives on beyond that actual day. City Stems in Charlotte is my favorite go to – she is a total artist with plants!
Who is your style icon?
Even though jewelry could be categorized as a subsegment of the fashion world, I don’t draw much inspiration, in general, from fashion. I love a killer outfit myself but it really hasn’t helped push my jewelry design to date. However, I do love people that push the boundaries and make us all challenge ourselves – I always come back to Elton John when I get this question. He was not afraid to accessorize and he had a killer sunglasses collection.
Your favorite up and coming artist / designer / creative?
I have a few pieces in my house from Michelle Rivera. I think it would probably be insulting to call her ‘up and coming’ given she has been painting for a while but I am in love with her work. She does a lot of these fun dog paintings but she has two other series that are my favorite – florals and women. I have both in my house and I love them.
What is your most treasured possession?
My husband and I have a tradition where, every wedding anniversary, he gives me a piece of jewelry and we engrave it with the number of years we have been married. I envision that, when I pass it down to my daughter, it will be like walking her through the phases of our life together – it feels like a tradition that helps memorialize our time together. It started with my engagement ring (which is the most important piece) but the whole of the collection is very special to me.
What are you reading?
Mostly the back of my eyelids at night! Admittedly I haven’t made much time to read recently but I do LOVE either a biography about a successful business leader and/or the story of how companies are built. I’ve read anything from Steve Jobs to the founders of Banana Republic to Bill Gates. I think it is fascinating to learn how successful people’s brains work.
What are you listening to?
My daughter loves music so we let her dictate most of the music selections which mostly include Disney movies, “If you are happy and you know it” or the like.
However, when I am working I do listen to podcasts. “How I Built This” is one of my favorites.
What are your favorite blogs / publications?
I love looking at pretty homes – I always find pieces of a room that helps inspire my design work. I do a lot of scrolling and going down instagram rabbit holes on this one vs. being loyal to one place. I also love the Washington Post – it makes me think of my parents and of home (I grew up outside DC in Maryland). They still read it everyday. My mom religiously savors the food section. And my dad is always trying to tell me about some hilarious comic from the weekend comics.
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