Jewelry designer Allison Hourcade has spent years bringing a sense of rock ‘n’ roll and alternative style to the fashion world with her online boutique RockLove Jewelry. But she never intended for her professional life and her love of geek culture to collide.
All that changed last year, when CBS asked her to create a line of premium Star Trek merchandise.
Now, RockLove boasts tie-ins for a number of popular geek-friendly franchises, from Warcraft to Outlander. Hourcade’s business has become a must-visit shop for geeks looking for stylish, high-quality fandom jewelry. In 2016, she’s poised to launch a set of exclusive products for ThinkGeek.
Prior to her website’s geeky transformation, Hourcade focused on handcrafted work in boutiques and spending time doing events like trade shows and fashion weeks. Hourcade still found time to embrace her geeky passions, but told the Daily Dot that she never considered licensed jewelry because of all the issues that came with it. Then the CBS commission happened.
“We got to work with their consumer products team and they have a couple of really knowledgeable fans,” Hourcade said, “so we got to really collaborate instead of just [waiting] for permission to make whatever we wanted… and that was the start.”
The experience taught Hourcade that some of her misgivings about doing business with franchises were unfounded, and that it was “possible to make licensed products but have [them] be a little bit more personal.”
RockLove has continued to expand its range of official merchandise and now offers items for a variety of popular franchises including Penny Dreadful, The Hobbit, and Skyrim. The latest line is inspired by Stargate SG-1. Hourcade is a fan of many of these properties, so she has focused her licensing efforts on the areas of science fiction, fantasy, and history that she loves most.
While many of the properties she works with have contacted her first inquiring about commissions, she told the Dot that she will turn down any project she feels isn’t quite the right fit.
The need to be selective is partly due to the small size of her company, which she describes as “me and some assistants in the Diamond District in New York City.” She also has a small office in Staten Island.
“We’re very much [an] independent small business crafter [of] jewelry, but [license holders] want to work with independent artisans instead of overseas mass production,” Hourcade said. Adding licensed merchandise to her site was an exciting turning point that has allowed her to “provide merchandise that I would want to wear but never made because it was unlicensed and that didn’t feel kosher.” Now she’s focusing on building product lines for fellow fans like herself.
RockLove has had success with jewelry containing moving elements, like this recently released Mass Effect necklace—a hit with fans even though it retailed at $195.
The interest in Hourcade’s designs has led to exciting new opportunities for her and RockLove. For ThinkGeek, Hourcade will be debuting items for Star Trek and and Penny Dreadful. “They’ll only be on ThinkGeek.com which is exciting because I’ve shopped them forever but it will be the first time that I’ve actually had product that I’ve made for them and sold on their site,” she said.
Hourcade is also developing a product line for the upcoming Warcraft movie. One of the Warcraft pieces by RockLove is already being sold, while the others are coming soon. In addition to other new video games Hourcade is working on, she said she’s trying to get a hold of a “particular property that is probably the most cult classic property you can think of… the one that we all want and there’s been nothing for it, no additional episodes.” We’re calling it for you, Browncoats!
Hourcade told the Daily Dot she thinks it’s extremely important that companies are commissioning high-quality products from independent artisans, both because it supports the industry and because it offers variety and diversity to fans of all types.
“I definitely support that jewelry allows all of us female fans to wear something and have more—more products for all of us girl fans that have existed this whole time but haven’t had products made for us,” Hourcade said. “But I also think it’s important that jewelry supersedes that kind of division and can be for anyone.”
She noted that “jewelry really doesn’t have to be limited as a gender-specific item…I like that jewelry doesn’t have to be delicate and dainty and girly. It can be something that can be big and awesome and loud or it can be something small and surreptitious that only another person in your office is going to recognize.”
As geek fashion expands, it’s likely more artisans like Hourcade will enter the market. For fans who have had far too few options for premium geek fashion for far too long, RockLove’s products are part of a welcome niche—one that allows geeks of all types to declare their love for their fandom in a unique, chic, and stylish way.
Photo by Steven Crawford via RockLove Jewelry