How it's Made

Material Matters: Mindful Designs from Hathorway Accessories

In 2018, Jessica Phan left a successful career in tech to focus on her conscious accessories company, Hathorway. Since then, she's cultivated a fairtrade brand that is a hybrid of traditional materials, techniques, and contemporary aesthetics. Join us as we travel between the Vietnamese village of Thuy Ung, where artisans shape her ethically-sourced materials, and her San Francisco Bay Area studio where her minimalist, geometric silhouettes are realized.  

 Designer Jessica Phan

When Jessica traveled to visit extended family in Vietnam in 2015, she discovered a plethora of products made of buffalo horn, from housewares to wardrobe accessories. While she loved the sustainable aspect of the material, she found the jewelry designs outdated for her taste. This lead her to purchase a quantity of horn to reconfigure to suit her modern style. Upon returning to the Bay Area, she began creating sleek, minimalist styles which gained instant popularity with family and friends.

Rattan Buffalo Horn Bracelet Set / Bar and Geo Buffalo Horn Earring / Hoan Toan Buffalo Horn Earring

Jessica's background in graphic design, coupled with her lifelong passion for fashion proved to be the perfect combination for her nascent accessories brand. She teamed up with a family in the Thuy Ung village whose traditional craftsmanship with buffalo horns had been passed down through generations. Subsequently, Hathorway designs was born and named for the Egyptian goddess of love and beauty whose iconic headdress was constructed of cow horns.   

 

The creation of all Hathorway pieces involves several steps. Initially, Jessica sketches an idea in her studio using pen and paper. These organic designs are then iterated, rendered, spec'd out digitally and sent to the artisans in Thuy Ung. There, they select suitable horns and soften them by cutting them in half before soaking and boiling them in hot vegetable oil. Once the horn is softened, it can be manipulated and flattened into plates from which the designs are stamped. 

For years the shapes were cut by hand, but once the village began thriving the artisans invested in an AutoCad machine to help cut the plates into more consistent pieces. Each component is buffed by hand with water to obtain a polished and refined appearance. 

Finally, the finished horn is sent to Jessica's studio where she assembles each unique design with 16k gold-plated brass fittings, assuring the utmost quality as she works. The chic, versatile  jewelry is a purchase consumers can feel good about from concept to completion: all materials are ethically-sourced, the artisanal process is collaborative and fair, and a portion of all purchases goes to initiatives that empower underprivileged women. 

Hoan Toan Buffalo Horn Necklace / Saigon Geo Buffalo Horn Earring / Minimal Buffalo Horn Bracelet Set

See our collection of modern, minimal buffalo horn jewelry here: 

 

 

The Museum Shop's fulfillment center is experiencing delays. How will this affect your order? Learn more »