Pearls of Wisdom from Hazel & Marie

When the pair decided to launch their own international online retail company, it was more of a self-edification quest than a serious job. “Hazel & Marie started as an exercise in brand building, but now we have an obsession with pearls,” explains Hajjar. With full-time jobs as marketing gurus keeping them busy during the day, Hajjar and Littlefield began moonlighting as a self-contained design, sourcing, retail and marketing team for Hazel & Marie. Just three years later, their side project has taken on a life of its own, with orders flying in from around the globe.

While the idea behind Hazel & Marie might have been business-oriented, Hajjar and Littlefield both have a passion for accessorizing that shines through in their work and their personal style. Their interest in pearls stemmed from a love of vintage jewellery and an appreciation of family traditions, both traits instilled in them by their classically stylish ancestors, who also served as the inspiration for the name of their company; Littlefield’s great-grandmother was named Hazel and Hajjar’s grandmother was Marie.

“Our grandmothers were style pioneers. Growing up, we both found fabulous pieces while sifting through their jewellery boxes,” Hajjar says. The Signature Twist, one of the most popular items they sell, was actually inspired by a piece of vintage costume jewellery that they discovered both their grandmothers coincidentally owned. 

Now their goal is to carry on their grandmothers’ legacy by offering heirloom quality pearls. “We wanted to create a product that’s sustainable, something that can be passed down from generation to generation. A pearl’s lifespan is over 100 years if they are well maintained and genuine quality,” says Littlefield. But finding genuine pearls and trustworthy suppliers has proven to be a tough task in China.

“It has been an incredible journey not to just find reliable vendors and designers, but to build significant relationships. It took a lot of trial and error in the beginning, and we learned a lot of important lessons,” Hajjar says. “Hazel & Marie products are ‘Proudly Made in China’ and we educate our customers and our suppliers about the quality of our accessories.”

Together, they’ve come up with their own method of testing the pearls they receive (see box below), so the Hazel & Marie tag becomes synonymous with quality and they test their products thoroughly to ensure that everything from the pearls to the silver clasps are authentic.

Since they don’t advertise and rely wholly on word of mouth, customer service is their number one priority, but they also focus on making gifting easy – a task they accomplish with a handy gifting guide that brands their collections with some of the 20th century's most famous pearl-wearing starlets, like Jackie O and Audrey Hepburn. “We wanted to identify heroines who could build a story around our pieces,” says Littlefield.

Inspirational as their heroines are, the Hazel & Marie ladies are impressive enough on their own with their independently successful careers and rapidly growing pet project. They’ve let on that there’s more in the way of accessories coming down the pipeline for Hazel & Marie, but these classy gals have their lips sealed on exactly what kind of jewels we can expect from them.