Fashion can appear to be impersonal, and at worst uncaring to the world that it is produced in. There are a few evident reasons why fashion can appear cold to the touch. One is that fast fashion abuses and then disposes of valuable resources, seemingly without reflection. The way that fast fashion is marketed and priced encourages consumers to think of fashion as disposable. Fast fashion tempts consumers into a cycle where they are constantly throwing away clothing, to be replaced by virtually indistinguishable new clothing in the hot hue of the minute. A second readily apparent reason is that fashion is produced by machines in huge numbers. Many luxury brands—with varying degrees of authenticity—seek to position themselves as purveyors of hand crafted and sustainably produced goods as a way to differentiate themselves and justify their cost.
Fledgling jewelry company JoJo Rings takes the buzz-wordy principles of hand crafted, sustainably produced, socially conscious, and personalized as the keys to a successful business as founder Jordan Dudden produces recycled jewelry from keys. It doesn’t get much more personal than creating the first rings from keys from your Grandmother’s house, which is exactly what Dudden did in a jewelry class at Syracuse University. “I was in my senior year, and jewelry class was a challenge for me,” Dudden said. “So I decided, ‘I am going to make jewelry that I love and will want to wear all the time’. I decided to use keys from my Grandmother’s house after she had passed away. The fact that I get to carry a piece of her with me wherever I go is really special.”
Dudden didn’t think much about the rings after her class, but she wore the rings she had created around Syracuse. She was approached by people asking about her unique jewelry. “People came up to me when I was wearing them around and asked me ‘where can I find something like that’, Dudden said. “After people came up to me, I thought to myself ‘this could really be something’ and I and I got started.” Dudden and a helper made a few batches and she sought feedback from her friends who encouraged her. Since starting her business in January of 2015, Dudden has been eyeing expansion. Dudden has decided to expand into men’s rings, and she has been crafting unique pieces for style bloggers and well known men-about- town. Dudden has made rings for Eric Decker of the New York Jets, and Chris Soules from the bachelor who she met in Syracuse. She designed a ring with the word Ford on it for Soules, and he has been spotted wearing it. Their rings have also found a home on the fingers of Jacob Whitesides, as wells as decorating the hand of model Magor Mbengue in an upcoming issue of Flaunt Magazine.
Talk about men and jewelry almost infallibly leads to the topic of sports, and indeed JoJo Rings has created unique jewelry from the keys to Syracuse University’s athletic facilities. One of those special rings was given to Floyd Little also known as “The Franchise” who started his impressive career at Syracuse University. “Being able to give somebody a key to a stadium or a key to their university is really special,” Dudden said.
JoJo’s partner Anthony Richichi has been helping Dudden both with marketing/public relations and branching into men’s styles. “although the styles are very similar, we create more masculine style rings,” Richichi said. “Guys prefer a very particular style of JoJo rings, so we try to make them look a little more masculine.”
Crossing the gender divide is not the only expansion in the works, JoJo rings is launching wrap bracelets—that can also be worn as necklaces. The bracelets are made with recycled leather cords and a unique key pendant.
“When I was working on this new bracelet I was thinking ‘I really want to do leather’ because I think metal and leather is a really cool combination,” Dudden said. “Leather is also frequently recycled, so I am trying to reach out to some bigger leather companies that might have scraps for me. Right now I am getting scraps through an online store and I am cutting them up into strands right now. I would love to connect with a larger organization so that I am helping them scrap their materials and I am creating something new.”
Recycling ties into JoJo rings three principles of sustainability, individuality, and social good. Speaking of sustainability, many of Dudden’s supporters on social media and locally donate keys to her. “They just mail me keys, and I donate a portion of proceeds to a different nonprofit every month,” Dudden said. “So, a lot of people are really happy to donate keys to Dudden has also started getting keys from a Boston based called Keys for Hope. “They usually scrap the keys at a scrapyard, and donate the proceeds to address homelessness in Boston,” Dudden said. “So I met up with them and said ‘hey I actually make something out of these so can I use the keys you are collecting’ I ended up buying the keys at scrap value. I supported their cause and now I have 100,000 keys that I am still sorting through.” These keys are just a fraction of the 2400 pounds of brass keys she has upcycled (just this year) and made into rings and other jewelry.
This is far from Dudden’s only charitable contribution; so far she has donated roughly $20,000 to around 15 different nonprofits and donates her jewelry to silent auctions. Dudden sees giving back as a way to return the suport that friends, fans, and Syracuse University have given the company. “I never really thought I was going to start my own business,” Dudden said. “Once this started it really seemed to come out of nowhere. I love to give back to people, because I wouldn’t be here without anyone encouraging me to do it.” Thanks to that encouragement and her dedication her line is carried in roughly 65 stores and online While Syracuse University and the city of Syracuse have provided the spark and key to starting Dudden’s business she is moving to Charleston, South Carolina this summer to grow her business in a new market. Charleston is appealing because of its proximity to Atlanta, its ability to attract tourists, and its reputation as a shopping destination.
“I am at a point where I have reached my capacity here in Syracuse, Dudden said. “It is a great opportunity to move to a new place. I have no other commitments, so I am going to move there and reach some more people, and a bunch of new stores. I think it will be a great move for everything for me and the rings. I would love to be on the West Coast but for now I think I need to expand and maybe I will get there at some point.”
To find stockists, order online, or to just learn more visit jojorings.com