Founder & CEO of multi-million-dollar company Dune Jewelry & Co, Holly Daniels Christensen, is a self made entrepreneur with a heart of gold, as beautiful inside and out as her jewelry. And we had the pleasure to interview her, but first a little about Holly and Dune Jewelry.
This unique bootstrap entrepreneur who proved she was unafraid of hard work was voted 2016 Woman-Owned Business of the Year for Massachusetts and New England by the Small Business Association (SBA). In 2018, Inc. magazine honored Dune Jewelry as No. 2590 on its 37th annual Inc. 5000 List which is the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment—its independent small businesses. Currently, Dune Jewelry is the one-and-only experiential jewelry brand in the world.
It all started in 2007, when this self-taught jewelry designer began making beach sand jewelry for friends and family at her kitchen table, then officially launched Dune Jewelry full time in 2010. Now, Dune employs a team of 28 people working in a 3,100 square foot studio space in Hyde Park, Massachusetts. Dune continuously fills orders for over 700 retail partners worldwide while their thriving e-commerce website focuses on selling personalized Experiential Jewelry that captures their customer’s most cherished memories. Additionally, Holly has created an exclusive Sandbank which holds over 5,000 sands and earth elements gathered from iconic and memorable locations around the globe which customers can select from to customize their jewelry. Dune’s first-ever branded retail boutique opened in July 2021 in Harwich Port, Massachusetts to showcase the diverse range of the brand’s products, and in April 2022, Dune opened their second retail location, an “experiential concept” store in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Holly is an advocate for giving back to the community and is proud to spearhead many fundraisers each year for non-profit organizations such as SMILE Mass, The Association to Preserve Cape Cod and Mission Blue. In addition, Dune often donates a portion of their sales throughout the year to various charities such as the global relief organization All Hands and Hearts, the Surfrider Foundation and the P.A.W.S Project. Currently, the company has surpassed over $200,000 in charitable donations.
Holly’s book, “Happiness Comes in Waves” was released this year in May, from Quarto Publishing. Happiness Comes in Waves provides life lessons filled with inspiring stories and quotations from the Dune community and ocean advocates—illustrated with gorgeous photographs of the ocean, shorelines, and beaches. Each chapter is dedicated to a theme with chapters on being unstoppable, adventurous, creative, grounded, soulful and abundant. But we’ll let Holly tell us more about it.
Without further ado, here is our interview with this incredible woman.
Q1. Very curious first of all to hear how it all started. Your jewelry line is divine, and I’m sure many of our creative readers would love to hear how Dune came to life.
Thank you for the kind words! Dune began right at my kitchen table in 2007. As a creative outlet, I was making jewelry for friends and family using sand from our favorite beaches on Cape Cod. I would purchase pre-made silver findings and test out different techniques to make the sand look wet, dry, glossy, matte, and once I was happy with the process, I would gift the pieces and ask for feedback. Oftentimes the person would come back to me and ask “if I give you sand or soil, can you make something out of that?” Of course, the entrepreneur in me said ABSOLUTELY and it occurred to me that the sentimental value of travel and experiences is priceless. The fact that I was creating tangible reminders of special moments became very exciting and I began taking my jewelry to arts and crafts festivals around Cape Cod & the Islands. Luckily, the response was incredibly positive. There were so many people who were excited and ready to support the concept. Fast forward 12 years and we ship globally to over 700 retail partners and have a thriving e-commerce business where we personalize handmade jewelry with sand, soil, ashes, clay, flower petals, shells and more. I’m blessed to have an amazing community of Dune enthusiasts who endlessly love & support our brand.
Q2: Dune Jewelry keeps growing and evolving. Recently you just opened the first Experiential Concept Retail Store. Congratulations! We’re dying to hear more about your collaboration with Rajesh Khemlani.
Aaaah! This is the most exciting project that I’ve worked on in quite some time. I met Raj at a trade show in Miami in October 2021. He loved what we were doing and was convinced that it would be a perfect fit for the Alaska market due to the extraordinary natural environment and beauty that Alaska exhibits. Fast forward 7 months and we opened the most beautiful experiential boutique in Ketchikan Alaska on April 28, 2022. This store has jewelry handcrafted with Alaska sand, Forget-Me-Not Flower Petals, White Quartz mixed with Gold Flakes, and so many other natural elements that create an unparalleled aesthetic. It’s unlike any other boutique in Alaska and I’m so proud of this endeavor. I’m planning on taking a Celebrity cruise with my family and our Dune community in August to learn more about the Alaskan experience so we can expand the concept next season.
Q3: You’re running a beautiful business, clearly a very dynamic business, and there is no sight of slowing down. Where do you see Dune in let’s say 10 years from now?
I love this question! We’re moving our headquarters to Norwood, Massachusetts where we will also have a front-facing boutique filled with Dune Jewelry as well as complimentary travel-centric gifts for men, women and children. I can’t wait to begin curating the offerings. I also see us expanding into a wider selection of unique jewelry with a range of price points. We want to grow our entire community and evoke wanderlust in everyone we encounter. Life should be enjoyed and Mother Earth gives us many choices to explore. We want to encourage people to share their experiences through personal style.
Q4: And now you have a book out. Please tell us a little about Happiness Comes in Waves and where we can get it from.
Happiness Comes in Waves is a book full of positive quotes, stunning photos, stories about the beach, and life lessons that I’ve learned from the ocean. I talk about how to become unstoppable, creative, abundant, and soulful like the sea, and why spending time in nature is so important to the human psyche. The book is a collaboration that includes empowering quotes from all of my favorite women around the world. It was an honor to work with Quarto Publishing on this project and I’m looking forward to volume two!
The book is from Rock Point, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group, and retails in the U.S. for $19.99 and in Canada for $25.00. It is also available on Amazon https://amzn.to/3P5Uvxw.
Q5: I promised I’ll keep this short and sweet, but I can’t conclude our dialog without asking what keeps you so inspired all the time? Your incredible creativity and great energy reflects in everything you do, so I’d love to know what keeps fueling your engine.
Thank you so much! I feel inspired every single day, whether it’s by one of our customers, my children, something I see in nature, a good movie, a compelling post I see on social media, or artwork that I happen upon. I’m a naturally positive person and truly believe that if you stay positive and focused, you can succeed at anything you put your mind to. Creativity is a little different. It’s very fluid for me. There are days when I’m overflowing with ideas and energy and I will call one of my team members (because oftentimes I’ll be driving) and brain dump everything that’s on my mind. Later that day I’ll sort through the notes to decide if the ideas have potential and if so, we will act on it. But there are other days when it’s simply not there, so I’ve learned not to force it. I’ve learned to harness the energy and maximize it when I’m feeling it but also to give myself grace when it feels too forced. Recently, a customer came to meet me at one of our trunk shows in Florida and told me that he and his wife can feel the love in every Dune Jewelry design that they own. My reaction was pure joy…and tears. It moved me in a way that I hadn’t felt in quite a while and since then my creativity has been abundant.
For more information on Dune Jewelry & Co. visit: www.dunejewelry.com
Follow Dune Jewelry on Instagram: dunejewelry
Like Dune Jewelry on Facebook: www.facebook.com/dunejewelry
Follow Dune Jewelry on Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/dunejewelry
Follow Dune Jewelry on Twitter: @dunejewelry
Follow Holly Daniels Christensen on Instagram: holly_daniels_christensen