She created her colorful “Popsicle” earrings because “we could all use a little levity”
Natalie Holst is introducing sunglasses to her collection this summer.
Just like her muses, artist Frida Kahlo and style icon Iris Apfel, designer Natalie Holst’s statement necklaces and color-block bracelets are no stranger to the limelight. Her bold, colorful jewelry, handcrafted in her downtown Charleston studio, has made its way onto fashion runways and been spotted on the likes of Solange Knowles and First Lady Jill Biden. “It’s an accessible statement,” says Holst. “It doesn’t read any particular age; you can be 90 or 16, and it looks good on all kinds of different people.”
The entrepreneur launched Holst + Lee in 2012 while living in New York, where she spent her days interning with top design houses Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler and her nights as a maître d’ in upscale restaurants of Manhattan’s hip Meatpacking District. Searching for a way to “look cool and put together without thinking too much about it” while summering in the surf community of Montauk, Holst began making and wearing her own jewelry. “I was going to the local hardware store and putting stuff together,” explains the designer. “I got such a response that I started selling them.” In little time, her pieces were turning heads and attracting attention, including that of a stylist for Mara Hoffman. By the summer’s end, Holst’s first collection was featured in the designer’s runway show at New York Fashion Week, catapulting Holst’s pastime into a professional pursuit.
Sun’s Out, Fun’s Out - Holst + Lee’s bright and cheerful pop art-inspired “Popsicle” earrings (above, middle) reflect our mood heading into summer: playful, upbeat, and oh, so cool! Founder Natalie Holst recently added the sweet treats to her bold jewelry collection because, she says, “we can all use a little levity.”
“I’ve always had a passion for colors and pattern,” recounts the painter-turned-entrepreneur, who studied art and art history at the College of Charleston and used her education to inform her work. “I took what I knew about color theory and wanted to kind of ‘paint’ jewelry.” Crafted out of repurposed materials such as silk scarves and nylon ropes in vibrant colors, from bright neons to dark hues, Holst’s accessories showcase the artistic inspiration that has come to distinguish her brand.
In 2017, the mom-of-two returned to Charleston and continued to evolve her business. Her most recent line features her popular “Popsicle” earrings, which received more than 100 orders in the first two days. “I wanted to do something fun with a little whimsy,” Holst says, “because we can all use a little levity.”
This summer, she’s launching her first sunglasses collection. Keep an eye out for her next local pop-up or mobile trunk show.