Born in Japan and growing up between Tokyo and Los Angeles, Hisano Shepherd found her inspiration for jewelry at a young age.
"My grandmother used to take me to Takarazuka theater. It's an all-female theater group. My grandmother would get dressed up in her finest jewelry. I particularly remember her statement emerald and opal cocktail rings."
While visiting grandparents in Tokyo she would scour the bead stores to spend her allowance making friendship bracelets for her classmates. Her true calling was found when she took her first metalsmithing class in high school. From there she went on to obtain her BFA from California State University Long Beach and her MFA from SUNY New Paltz in upstate New York.
Working from the ground up, from jewelry repair shops polishing rings and fixing costume jewelry to becoming the head sample maker for a fashion jewelry company, Hisano gained the experience and confidence needed to create her own branded line.
"I am attracted to the idea of jewelry taking different roles other than simply ornamentation. Ideas such as jewelry suggesting garment, jewelry taking over the body of the wearer, and jewelry breaking out of the traditional role of adornment are some ideas that enthrall me. The shift in scale and the use of traditional and nontraditional material in jewelry making allowed me to challenge these ideas. My work is predominantly made out of organic gems such as pearls, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. I explore forms and ideas of jewelry through texture, color, and overall composition.
Jewelry does not have to come from one source, or convey one idea. It can be collaboration of techniques, ideas, and materials that converge together to make different emotions and meanings. I strive to create beautiful wearable pieces that provoke wonderment, attraction, and disturbance."
BRAND HISTORY, PHILOSOPHY
Hisano launched little h jewelry in 2011, using refined freshwater seed pearls, exotic baroque Tahitian and south sea pearls.
"When I first started designing with pearls, I noticed that pearl jewelry flooding the market all had a similar look. The younger generation weren't excited about pearls because the classic look wasn't widely appealing. I saw the opportunity to create pearl jewelry in edgy, stylish and unique ways.
My mission is to create innovative and creative pearl jewelry. But not only that, I want to show the world how unique pearls can be. Cultured pearls come in an array of colors that are naturally born, with shapes that are truly unique.
My core values are: be true to myself, be creative, and get it done right. It's significant for me to push boundaries in my work and to be authentic."
Inspired by the naturally formed crystal geodes sold in Tucson gem shows, Hisano began experimenting with slicing hollow, freshwater soufflé pearls. The resulting concave interior is the perfect housing for precious gemstones, resembling a naturally formed geode when set. A first of its kind, the Pearl Geode™ collection, is now patent pending.
Every piece of jewelry is handcrafted in her studio in Los Angeles, California. Hisano's role as a pearl buyer with her family business for many years enables her to source the most rare and unusual pearls that are not readily available In US markets. She also works exclusively with a US vendor who specializes in breakout jewelry. Utilizing recycled rubies, sapphires and emeralds brings new life to expelled stones allowing them to sparkle once again.
Little H has been earning awards and accolades by industry leaders including Cultured Pearl Association of America, InDesign, MJSA, AGTA and WJA. Her pieces have been spotted on A-List celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Olivia Wilde, Elizabeth Banks, Selena Gomez, Anna Sophia Robb, Rose Byrne, Rosie Perez and Emma Roberts. Her pieces have also been featured in top-tier publications such as lnStyle, Cosmopolitan, Teen Vogue and Vogue.