Sally Hovis and Sarah Olsen are the mother/daughter duo behind the jewelry line S. Carter Designs, known for pieces that are at once organic and glamorous. The collection is equally at ease with jeans and a tee as with an ornate ball gown. Truly, this is a brand we’ve been lusting over the past few years and are thrilled to talk with Sally and Sarah today as our FACES of the South.
We first found S. Carter Designs on Taigan.com a few years ago and were stopped in our tracks. These designs are gorgeous! When did you launch the collection?
Sarah: We started for fun in 2009 and became full time in 2011. It’s been an exciting journey that’s keeping us BEYOND busy! We’ve only grown by word of mouth up to this point, although being on Taigan.com did help bring a lot of attention to our line as they do such a great job curating unique brands on their site.
Your pieces are organic and glamorous at once. To see vertebrae or teeth adorned with gold and diamonds makes us see these elements in new light. Is this part of your mission?
Sarah: Absolutely. We love how our pieces can go from t-shirt to black tie. We think they have a casual elegance to them that make them an everyday go-to.
Where does the name S. Carter Designs come from and how did you decide to jump into the jewelry business?
Sally: I am a fourth generation “S. Carter” (Sally Carter Evans Hovis), and Sarah is a fifth generation S. Carter (Sarah Carter Hovis Olsen). So, “S. Carter” was a natural fit.
Sarah: I was working retail, and I kept wanting to borrow a friend’s necklace that was made of gold plate and featured a resin tusk. But, I was allergic to it. So, I made one with all-natural products, a leather chain with a real tusk. Everyone wanted to buy one from me, so the business started from there. Then Mom started helping me out, and in 2011 my dad sat me down and basically said now was time to do this full time. Mom was willing to work full time with me, we had a lot of interest … so we did it!
What inspires you?
Sally: All things in nature. Honest to God. If you came to our workshop you’d understand! We’re on seven acres IN Atlanta! We’re back in the woods. We brought our kids to Yosemite, not Disney World! We’re all into nature.
Sarah: Definitely. And, travel inspires us as well.
Sally: The more tribal, the more natural the better!
A few years ago, when we read the description of a pair of beautiful S. Carter earrings, we admit we giggled pretty hard as we had never heard of “oosik” before. The description states that the earring are made of a “oosik (cross section of walrus penis) with pave diamond rondels … ” So, we have to ask, has anyone else seen the use of oosik as humorous or are we just stuck in middle school!?
Sarah: We love seeing people’s reactions over our oosik! Everyone tells us they are a great conversation piece. I always find it amusing to see who buys them. Sometimes it’s the opposite of who you would expect!
Is there a celebrity who you would love wearing a piece from your collection?
Sarah: I’m obsessed with Elle McPherson and Kate Hudson’s style and would love to see them in S. Carter pieces!
Are there any other brothers/sisters in this family? If yes, do they help collaborate at all?
Sarah: I have two brothers and one sister. So far, no one else has wanted to jump on board!
What is the hardest thing about working together and also being mother and daughter?
Sally: We are together so much of time that sometimes I think we need a break from each other. That break has to happen on the weekends, which is when we’d like to be together as a family.
On the contrary, what is the best thing about working together?
Sally: I feel like I know Sarah inside out. I’m very proud of the lady and business person she has become.
Sarah: I definitely will never regret all the hours we’ve spent together. Endless hours and endless memories.
Does the S. Carter Designs brand intend on expanding outside of jewelry?
Sarah: We do some bags now and can definitely see ourselves continuing to expand to other accessories. If only there were more hours in a day! Our minds constantly race with new ideas!
Sally: I never in a million years thought that at 58 I’d be working this hard. I dream this business! I write down ideas in the middle of the night.
What do you think distinguishes the South from other regions in the United States?
Southern people are so proud of their roots and always try their best to make people feel welcome.
Is there a quote or piece of advice that you have relied on that you can share with our readers today?
Sally: Treat people as you would like to be treated. My father always told me to treat the garbage man like I would treat the President. It has served me well.
Sarah: The sky’s the limit. I’m really learning that hard work has its benefits and can be fun at the same time.
Can you name a favorite indulgence?
Sally: The martini that helps me switch from my workday mindset to the relaxation mode I enjoy with my husband George!
Sarah: Red wine. Definitely winds me down after work!
What books are currently found on your nightstand or e-reader?
Do you have a perfect vacation spot?
Sally: Our close getaway is Lake Burton. As for a destination spot … we love so many places and are continually traveling to find more!
Sarah: We love to get away to Lake Burton or Cashiers for a quick trip, but if we have an extra day off you will most likely find my husband and me in the Florida Keys!
What is one piece that is a must-have for your summer wardrobe?
Sarah: I live in cut off jean shorts! I might cry when my age doesn’t deem them appropriate anymore!
Sally: My go to is a knee-length white pencil skirt. I can dress it up or down. It goes any and everywhere.
Name three things you can’t live without excluding faith, family and friends!
Sally: My puppy, my garden (they are my therapy) and mascara.
Sarah: My dogs, red wine, St. Tropez!
Is there one thing that people might be surprised to learn about you?
Sally: I built houses, did interior design and gardened for years before getting into the jewelry business. (Obviously I’m very visual and detailed…)
Sarah: I double majored in international business and Spanish, minored in real estate … who knew I’d be making jewelry!?
Thank you Sally and Sarah!
Thanks to Catrina Maxwell of CatMax Photography for the beautiful pictures!