One of the Fastest Growing Start-Ups in the US Adds Luster to RI’s Jewelry-Making Tradition

How a make-or-break moment forged HAVERHILL into a successful startup

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In an unassuming slate-gray building along the Warren waterfront, is what Inc. has designated “one of the 5,000 fastest growing companies in the US.” Number 242, better known as HAVERHILL is an affordable luxury brand offering personalized jewelry, founded by its namesake Haverhill Leach, who runs the e-commerce enterprise with husband Andrej Strojin.

Success didn’t come overnight, and while Leach is proud to be the latest link in a long line of New England jewelry makers spanning five generations, none of this was handed to her – she didn’t have a factory-in-waiting. “I grew up around jewelry,” says Leach, who documents that it all started with her great-great-grandfather, continuing to her father who hosted EternaGold on QVC for 25 years, but she initially veered off in her own creative direction in fashion, working at Kate Spade and Mayle in New York City and then launched a swimwear line while living in Los Angeles. At this point, Leach was a stay-at-home mom and her side hustle was selling larger statement silver jewelry at trunk shows before landing on the 14-karat gold dainty classic style she is known for today.

“I didn’t intend to sell birthstone jewelry,” Leach explains. “At the trunk shows, people would ask if pieces could be personalized, but they also wanted to buy and take things home that day.” This sparked an idea to fill a need: bespoke jewelry at the ready. With so many jewelry trade contacts and resources back in Rhode Island, it made sense for Leach to return east and she moved to Barrington. She worked closely with National Chain Group on necklaces and bracelets with bezel-set gemstones for a collection named “Bayberry” after the street her great-grandparents lived on. “We had the process from personalized order to finished piece down to seven days,” Leach says of working with the Warwick-based manufacturer to fulfill orders dedicated to her mission of custom quality with a quick turnaround.

Life has many chapters, and by 2018 Leach had met and married Strojin, a management consultant with big ideas to grow the company, which at that point had annual sales of $250,000. A first order of business was to build a user-friendly website which would allow consumers to customize a range of pieces with selections like metal type, length, pattern, stone, and letters. “At the time, having a jewelry website like ours was unique,” says Leach. With the site launched and a large shipment of gemstones received, the couple was poised and ready for Mother’s Day May 2020 orders; the world shut down weeks prior but having the foresight of the website and gems resulted in a make-or-break moment.

Leach and Strojin set up shop in their home, doing all facets of the work with Leach’s parents helping in the assembly line. They quickly realized that by doing all of the work in-house, custom pieces could be done much faster than relying on an outside vendor. “We could get turnaround from order to shipping down to three days,” says Leach. “I said to Andrej, I guess we need to do our own assembly.”

Which leads us to today, where a small-but-mighty in-house team of 45 is cross-trained to receive orders, create pieces from start to finish, ship, and even promote them. Touring the facility dispels visions of early manufacturing jobbers and rotework; the white brick interior is filled with light and water views, leading-edge machines assist with tasks like engraving and polishing, and brief chats with staff give the impression of pride of ownership and artisanship even though for many, this is their first time working with jewelry.     

With a smile that competes with her trio of gold necklaces, Leach shares that she strives to create jewelry that can grow with the wearer’s own story, with pieces easily added and expanded, and that can be worn all the time. “Solid 14-karat gold means you never have to take it off,” says Leach, and that means wearing jewelry to sleep, swim, exercise, and to the beach. “We strive for emotion and meaning, and efficiency.”

 

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