The best jewelry isn’t simply a pretty, sparkly piece to slip on before a night out. The best pieces come with a story; they evoke memories and takes you to far-off 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 the shells, by the shore, the sand, and the life that you find within the ocean. She uses shells found on inspiring strolls along her favorite beaches — including Vero Beach, FL, and Eleuthera, Bahamas — to create dreamy pieces that feel fit for a mermaid.
With appearances in Condé Nast Traveller and British Vogue both under her belt within her first year of launching, Hops & Bun Co. has been a runaway success. But now, Farrell is finding her inspiration closer to home. As she looks to welcome a daughter in 2022 and settles into a move back to her home state of Tennessee, she’s discovered a new creative community, while continuing to honor the gypsy roots that started her collection and her art.
You went from working in magazines to designing jewelry. Tell us about that transition.
I always had Hops & Bun Co. as my side passion project while managing all marketing aspects for a local Houston and Dallas magazine. At the time, I was just creating pieces of art out of oyster shells that I received from local restaurants. I knew that, eventually, I wanted to create something directed more towards the fashion/accessories market while continuing my art on a smaller scale. When COVID-19 hit, I found myself, like many others, in a state of limbo with my job. They had to make a tough decision to furlough, and I took that as my opportunity to expand Hops and Bun Co.
My husband and I decided to temporarily move to Vero Beach, FL, where my family has a home and “ride out COVID.” It was my perfect opportunity to take my therapeutic beach hobby of “shelling” — or as many call it, “beachcombing” — and create beautiful pieces of jewelry from my finds. I started small with just the shells I was finding locally, but eventually tapped into my family’s collection of shells — thousands upon thousands of shells from all over the world, to start my jewelry business. I officially launched my shell jewelry in August of 2020, and I haven’t looked back since! What a true blessing to be able to call something so fun and creative my full-time job.
How did you come up with the name Hops & Bun?
Oh gosh! 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 got such a kick out of the fact that I had a pet rabbit. I had to incorporate him into the brand name somehow. That’s how Hops & Bun came to life.
And let me tell you, it is such a conversation starter! I’ve debated changing the company name, but many have said it’s what drew them to my brand — to see what it was all about. Sadly, Wrigley passed away in September of this year, but I can assure you, he had the best bunny life and was loved by SO many. And who knows, maybe another bunny will be in my future soon!
What was running through your head when you got your first big magazine feature?
I had just launched my jewelry pieces in August of 2020, and I got the email from Condé Nast in early October of that year. I was sitting on the beach with my husband and literally screamed when I got the email! To have something that huge happen so quickly after launch was absolutely amazing. I am so incredibly proud. It was all I could talk about for months!
What’s your favorite Hops & Bun Co. piece currently, and what pieces should we snag for 2022?
My favorite item right now is our very first original earring — our LA MER Statement Earrings. I think it will always be my favorite because it’s the earring that started it all and our bestseller two years in a row. Our shop closes on December 11th this year for the holiday, so most of my customers have been on top of it and ordering months out. Currently, the top three bestsellers [for the season] are our La Mer Original Statement Earrings, our White Reverse Mini Mermaids, and our signature gold-painted Oyster Shell Cross.
What is your favorite beach for relaxing? What about creative inspiration?
I have two favorite beaches, both of which I grew up going to! Number one, French Leave Beach, Eleuthera, Bahamas. Really, you can’t go wrong with any of the beaches on the island of Eleuthera; however, this one is extra 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 pictures. It is absolutely stunning. A fun place to snorkel, a great walking beach, and talk about finding sea glass and shells — they’re everywhere! A true creative’s dream! You can climb up on 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 shelling isn’t very good in Vero. I think that’s just because they don’t know where to look. I’ve found some of the best shells walking that beach for hours. Also, one of the most magical moments happened on that 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 shifted or grown as you approach motherhood?
I actually find myself being more creative and wanting to find more sustainable ways to create my shell art and jewelry. Also, I want my daughter to be so proud of the work I’ve put into the world … Timeless, creative pieces that she too can one day have. Seashells never go out of style!
Now that you’ve moved back to Tennessee, how have you found a creative community? Have your hometown and the South embraced your business?
Being back in Tennessee has been so nice. Nothing like coming back home after years away, right? And it’s a quick drive down 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 have had people I haven’t seen since middle or high school connect with me and buy my pieces. A group of girls ordered my shell earrings for a bachelorette party, and I had another order for a beachy wedding next spring.
Even though Memphis isn’t a beach town, there are PLENTY of beachgoers and beach house owners, so it has been nice to tap into that group here and be their one-stop shop for accessories and home decor.
What’s your number one piece of advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs?
It’s cliché but keep your side hustle. Especially if it’s your creative outlet. There will be challenges, but always persevere. Find new and creative ways to keep doing what you love and sharing your work with the world. Reach out to fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners for help or guidance; we are a small but strong group and love to see creative, passionate people follow their dreams!
Which small brands are on your must-gift list this season?
And what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve received a lot of advice over the years. I’ve been lucky to have so many wonderful people in my corner pushing 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!), and she always says no matter how dreadful a day can be, don’t forget to lead with kindness. I think that’s so important, especially as a small business owner, to have a core value like kindness in your everyday interactions with people. It can change your whole outlook!
Beyond faith, family, and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
I sure do love a good ocean! I cannot live without the beach (obviously!), my English Springer Spaniel, Banks, and COFFEE!
Thank you, Farrell! Images provided by Farrell Lawo unless otherwise noted.
Meet more inspiring Memphis women by visiting our FACES archives.