We had the good fortune of connecting with Haley Jaeger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Haley, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
The concept of Atonement Design started when I was in high school and was learning about poverty and trafficking happening around the world. By this time, my brother and father had passed away and I realized my life would look incredibly different if we were in another country with no men in our home to protect and provide for us. This realization guided me toward the idea of partnering with artisans through creative efforts which would one day become Atonement Design.
As I started to dabble in a jewelry company, I started to learn more about the slavery epidemic and the 44 million people trapped in human trafficking today. Many of these people are the makers of our everyday items and I wanted to create a place where women could come and know they were supporting a brand making a positive impact rather than the many making a negative one. From there, I also added the online boutique side to the brand.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Creativity has been in my blood since I was a child- it has been my outlet and is what got me through the hardest days. My dad was a contractor and instilled an entrepreneurial spirit in me from day one. He would take me to his job sites and give me a hammer and nail at 8 years old and taught me to simply try. My mom taught me how to sew when I was 6 and always encouraged me to create beauty from scraps. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, I remember making jewelry to ease the pain. On the day he passed away, I hid in my art room and made pieces as the mortuary came for him. Creativity held me together and has continued to push me through all the difficult things life has thrown my way.
As I’ve grown, my designs have evolved and I’ve learned that I love the natural stones that make a statement mixed with simple pieces of brass. My favorite pieces by far are the chandelier earrings I’ve designed made from citrine, turquoise, moonstone, and pearls, along with our Agate Long Necklace. They’re incredibly unique with rigid and soft stones, but they’re also easy to dress up for an elegant occasion or down for a casual day.
What I love most about our pieces is how versatile they are. I’ve had brides wearing earrings that my friends wear with jeans.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to keep going. We’ve had so many mishaps that would make many quit, but I just kept knocking on doors and fighting for resources. I’ve also learned no journey is the same. Some businesses are quick to get off the ground, some take more time and neither is better than the other. We’re all on our own journey.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in Sonoma County, CA- wine county. My husband is a soil scientist and sustainability specialist here in the wine industry and he loves showing off the wineries he’s been a part of. Many of these have become my favorites and would definitely be on that list! If I had a week to show a friend my home, we would see the natural beauty, eat delicious food, drink good coffee, and sip incredible wine.
For our outdoor adventure, we would hike Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve and see the old beautiful redwoods, head out to the coast and walk along the rocky shore, float down the river with some sparkling wine, and soak in one of the many hot springs.
For food, we would head to Salt and Stone for a surf and turf dinner, Diavola for some of the best wood-fired pizza I’ve ever had, Brava’s Tapas for traditional Spanish tapas, and Palooza for some beer and ahi poke nachos and garlic fries.
When it came time for wine tasting, we would venture to Baletto for pinot noir, Kokomo for zinfandel, VJB for sparkling, and end at Quivira for delightful biodynamic wines,
After wine tasting, we would have some locally roasted coffee at Land and Water.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First and foremost, my customers that have become my friends. I could not do this without their encouragement and support. Agape International Missions (AIM) is another. They are one of our artisan partners for our in-house jewelry brand and they are doing incredible work to eradicate sex trafficking in Cambodia.
My team- we could not have this brand without the hard-working women I get to spend my days with.
Lastly, my husband and my family. They have been far more supportive than I could have dreamed and made this company possible.
Other: For wholesale: https://atonementdesign.faire.com/
Molly Stillman, @stillbeingmolly, https://www.instagram.com/stillbeingmolly/