Nettie Kent Would Rather Be Surfing

Published December 19, 2011

 

 

“Everywhere else was ‘off-Island,'” says jewelry designer Nettie Kent of her isolated upbringing on Martha’s Vineyard. “I mean everywhere—Costa Rica or Cape Cod—if it wasn’t the island, it was off.” An outdoor enthusiast, Kent spent her childhood on the seashore and in the woods. The doors on her family’s home never had locks, and Kent’s family had more animals than she could count. “We even had a turkey once, who used to chase us and bite,” adds the former assistant to Pamela Love and Phillip Crangi. “Turkies are awful creatures.”

Kent’s passion for jewelry was first fueled by her father, a painter, with whom Kent would spend a great deal of time in the studio. “Painting didn’t satisfy me completely,” the now-Brooklynite explains. “I wanted to move the paint with my hands, get in it.” The next step, obvious or not, was metalwork. Kent gathered a bouquet of copper from an old house’s renovation, a saw and hammer, and began to churn out some of the organically nautical pieces she sells today. Her latest? A collection called Sirens, whose lovely lookbook (shot by budding photographer Betsy Blundell) features such ethereal artistes as Charlift’s Caroline Polachek (illustrated above), CREEP’s Lauren Dillard and Lauren Flax, and Nicole Atkins. “We wanted the jewelry to come alive,” says Kent. “It was amazing to witness how the same necklace on different women takes on a whole new attitude and look.”

The varied clientele is something Kent is getting used to, as the designer’s orders are quickly growing. It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time for the Vineyard native. “I’m not gonna lie—there are days when I want to hit the road with my cat and my boyfriend and live the beach nomad lifestyle, and just go surfing,” Kent quips, citing obvious influences in her work. “But I love making jewelry and I can’t stop!”