I met River at her dreamy warehouse space in Burleigh Heads. With terracotta walls, lush plants and the scent of flowers in the air, it really is the perfect canvas. River made me feel so warm and welcomed, it was as if we were old friends catching up. This woman has the flower power. Working with Australian natives, her botanical creations are breath taking.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are and what excites you?
Hi! I’m River Hazel and I’m the human behind Hazel and Herb. I make jewellery with little bits of nature inside, mainly Australian native flowers & tiny mushrooms.
You are the founder of Hazel and Herb. Can you tell us about your business? And what sparked the idea to create Hazel and Herb?
I honestly never thought I'd own a business, especially not making jewellery. It was all a bit of a fluke, really. I was making pieces for myself and when I shared them with my friends, they all expressed an interest in having their own made. It then moved onto their friends of friends and when I finally posted a little preview to Instagram in early 2015, it completely blew up. My first 'shop update' (I use that term lightly as I started on BigCartel with maybe 10-15 products?) sold out within minutes. I still find it wild that I am where I am today. What started as a mild obsession with mushrooms and native flowers has totally blossomed!
Is combining art and nature something you’ve always wanted to do?
In a way, yes... I've always been very arty and crafty. From a young age I attended after-school art classes and it is definitely what kept me interested in school. I was more into photography and painting, but fell into resin as a way of capturing a more 3D version of the landscapes I'd been trying to photograph/paint. I love that it has given me the ability to capture a piece of the places I love and preserve it for years to come.
You use native Australian florals, was this is a conscious choice and if so why?
Definitely! I'm totally obsessed with them. I think I made the switch to all Aussie natives at the end of 2017. I love that it feels like I'm honouring the land I now call home & they're just so beautiful. As an added bonus they're amazing to have in the garden for all the local native creatures (big and small!)
River wears the Dahlia dress in brown sugar
What are some of your favourite native flowers?
This is a tricky one! I have a rather long list, haha. In no particular order; rice flower, paper daisies, wattle, flannel flowers, leptospermum, yellow buttons, kangaroo paws, verticordia and ixodia flowers (those are my very top favourites for Australia, anyway). If we had to start talking about natives from other places I think we'd be here until tomorrow, haha.
You create really meaningful custom orders using teeth, hair or ashes for example. What has been your most special request?
I'm so honoured that I'm able to do this for people! Again, it's not something I ever thought I'd do, but I created a piece for myself to honour my best friend, Sprout and after that I had so many beautiful stories from other people flooding my inbox so I decided to make it an option. I recently made some really lovely pieces with flowers and fur from a beloved family dog. It always brings a tear to my eye when I'm working with people/pets and it might sound a bit spooky, but I certainly feel as though I can sense their presence while I'm working some days.
You create all your treasures in your Gold Coast studio. Tell us about your space and what inspires you?
Yes! We've recently moved into a new space down in Burleigh (I was previously on Tamborine Mountain) and I am ADORING it! The space is really light-filled, which is great because I'm a very visual person & I like everything to be 'picture-perfect'. Aside from a few things, most of the items we have in the space are actually Facebook marketplace / op-shop finds! I have definitely found that having a space filled with little trinkets, plants and dried flowers throughout keeps me inspired. I've been super blessed to move into this space and have the opportunity to really decorate it the way I've always envisioned. My partner is super handy & he's built me all these beautiful benches with reclaimed hardwood, so the space feels very natural.
Apart from Hazel and Herb you also are an amazing photographer! How long have you been photographing? And how did you first start out?
Thank you! I honestly can't remember a time when I wasn't interested in photography. I took my first 'proper' photography course when I was just ten years old. I then also went on to study a diploma whilst in high school and in my last year of schooling, I studied via distance education so that I could finish Tafe and start my own photography business. It's definitely more of a side hustle these days, but I do take all my own product photos, so that at least allows me to keep that passion alive!
You capture portraits and landscapes. What do you love most about these subjects?
I am totally fascinated with capturing the world around me & I love that a photograph can transport you to a new place (if only for a moment.) I've always loved being able to be a bit of a visual storyteller, I definitely prefer capturing 'moments' as opposed to staged photos.
How important is living a creative life to you?
I couldn't live any other way. My brain is constantly thinking of new ways to quench my creative thirst, haha.
Can you share one of your favourite photos with us?
That'll be a tricky one, but I think maybe this one: It's so hard to choose just one photograph, but this one captures such a special memory for me and transports me right back there every time I look at it. It's my partner, my van and we're parked up near a waterfall cooking dinner after spending a bit of time in the Blue Mountains.
What would your most special or proud Hazel and Herb moment be so far?
I have been so lucky to have so many incredible opportunities with Hazel and Herb. I had some pieces stocked at the National Library, have been blessed to travel to both Sydney and Melbourne for markets, I've shipped to almost every continent in the world, if not all. I don't think I could pick just one. I think the whole journey with Hazel and Herb has been so special and made me so damn proud!
Do you have any mantras you live by?
I can't really think of any mantras per say, but it's definitely important to me that I always stay true to myself and do what makes me happy.
River wears the Wildflower dress in sun
Where can we shop Hazel and Herb?
Right now you can shop via my online store (I do also have a few stockists linked there) and very, very soon you'll be able to come & visit me at my very own gift shop in Burleigh! I can't wait!
What’s next for River Hazel?
I'm the kind of person that always has one million and one things on the go, but the next thing I'm hoping to really delve into is creative workshops. Not just sharing my own skills, but opening the space for other artists and creatives to come and teach. I've always been really passionate about supporting other creatives /small businesses, so now that I have the space to offer them place to grow - I really want to do that! I'd love for it to become a bit of a creative hub where you can learn a new craft and make some new friends and really be in the moment.
For handcrafted botanical jewellery and keepsakes shop Hazel & Herb
Follow Hazel & Herb Instagram
For beautiful photographs follow River Hazel