By Julie Sagoskin
When it comes to turning her jewelry design dreams into a successful reality, Holly Daniels Christensen knows how to get to the top of the mountain, and if not a mountain, definitely a sand dune! Christensen, is celebrating the ten-year anniversary of her woman empowered empire, Dune Jewelry, which is known for its beautiful designs featuring natural elements from as far away as Indonesia. What started as a hobby for Holly, who always enjoyed creating handcrafted pieces from her home, has become a hugely popular jewelry line with loyal customers from all over the globe. Dune Jewelry creates tangible reminders of life’s most precious moments and connects people to places and experiences in a unique, meaningful way by handcrafting each design using sand or natural elements from thousands of memorable and iconic locations around the world.
Holly, who had always hoped to build her own business, worked as a real estate agent during the first few years of Dune’s existence to finance her real dreams of owning and operating a company. She also made it her mission to reach out to her customer base on Facebook in an authentic and personal manner. “This was when Facebook was purely organic which really allowed me to have constant contact with the people who were most important to the brand. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was creating brand loyalty while building small focus groups to explore what designs and travel locations would be most successful for us. Having that knowledge is integral to having a successful business. I truly believe that our customers are what has led to Dune’s success. I listen to them; I ask questions and I deliver on the promises that I make which in turn has created a beautiful community of people who love capturing their experiences in tangible reminders that they can carry with them always.”
The hardworking Holly, who puts her heart into each handcrafted piece, started making beach sand jewelry at her kitchen table back in 2007. Her beloved Cape Cod beaches, where she grew up, sparked her desire to create personalized designs that hold special meaning and memories. Though she started making these unique necklaces, rings and bracelets for close friends and family, it wasn’t long before her designs started gaining popularity amongst admirers who wanted their own custom designs made up of sand or elements from their upcoming trips. Holly soon embarked on jewelry making classes and the rest is, well, very haute jewelry history. Dune Jewelry was officially launched in 2010 and will be celebrating their 10th year anniversary in September 2020. Today, Dune has over 4,500 elements in their Sandbank to choose from, and customers continue to send in their own memories for bespoke designs. “Most recently, we’ve received soil from the Appalachian Trail, crushed granite from the Rocky Mountains, wedding flowers, funeral flowers, sand from the Hollywood Trail, infield dirt from Fenway Park, sand from the Pebble Beach golf bunker, and my personal favorite, crushed shells from the Big Island of Hawaii!” exclaimed Holly.
These unique pieces, which come in various price points and metals, remain extraordinarily sentimental. Whether it’s sand from your local beach or your dream destination, you can showcase your most precious experiences in a lasting and wearable way. According to Holly, while the world becomes more digital, with most of our photos catalogued in our phones, Dune captures your memories in a unique way. “We began as the original beach sand jewelry company and have evolved into the one and only experiential jewelry brand in the world. We capture experiences in every piece that leaves our studio and we offer a lifetime warranty and happiness guarantee knowing that customer satisfaction comes first.”
While these unprecedented times have been hard on businesses of all sizes, Holly is determined to successfully take Dune into another decade. “Creating Dune has been the greatest adventure of my life, so while we’ve had many challenges over the years and especially now, my passion, creativity and vision remain the same, and I believe our journey is just getting started. This pandemic is the worst it’s ever going to get, so if we can make it through this, we can make it through anything. I continue to tell my team daily that this is an endurance game. We need to have mental and emotional strength and stamina to weather the storm. One of the most useful things that I’ve learned during this time is that I need to leave my maternal senses at the door when hiring new team members. It’s all about hiring for skillset, mindset and cultural fit. As we celebrate this 10-year milestone, we’ll be launching a brand refresh and I’m excited about the prospect of adding more of the right people to our team.
If there is anyone who can bounce back, it’s this boss babe! From awards to television appearances, Holly has taken Dune to another dimension. Dune won Small Business of the Year in 2016, landed on the Inc 5000 list in 2018, and was just recently named one of the ‘Top Ten Destination Jewelry Brands in the World’ by “Global Traveler Magazine.” Holly has even appeared on EXTRA with Mario Lopez twice and she has a longstanding collaboration with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover girl, Camille Kostek and has co-designed a collection with sports talk show host and golf correspondent Ann Liguori on Dune’s Hamptons Rope Collection and Dune Golf.
Between balancing a staff of 22 full-time team members and two young daughters who are currently being home schooled, you must be wondering what Holly’s secret is when it comes to doing it all? Well, there is none. That’s because according to Holly, while balance is important, it’s not always possible, and that’s okay. “It’s an incredibly difficult time for working mothers right now and the most important thing is to give yourself grace and know that things don’t always need to be perfect.”
What are some of this fierce boss lady’s favorite finds from her line? “I’m a sucker for the classics like our Wave Collection, but I also haven’t taken off my Delicate Destinations Sunburst Necklace and my Five Element Cocktail Ring since they launched. Also, we’ve been putting out some amazing home accents including our new picture frame and a variety of really pretty wine stoppers. My go-to hostess gift is a wine stopper filled with the recipient’s favorite beach or natural elements that are special to them – like flowers from their wedding – alongside a gorgeous bottle of wine. So special! And soon we’ll be launching our experiential candle collection with scents from Bermuda, Cape Cod, Italy and Hawaii, to name a few. Our new candles are going to transport you to your favorite locale without ever leaving home. While home accents are a new category for us, it feels like a very natural progression.”
Let’s just say that not even a pandemic can stop this powerhouse! In fact, starting this September 2020, Dune Jewelry is debuting their first ever brand refresh, including a new color palette and logo design. They will also be adding “& Co.” to their name to encompass all the new experiential products they’re introducing in 2021.
Your favorite experiential jewelry brand also prides itself on giving back. That’s right, Dune Jewelry donates a portion of all profits to various coastal preservation programs around the world, including the Association to Preserve Cape Cod and Dune has donated over $110,000 to charity over the past few years.
“People often ask me where I see myself in 10 years and the ultimate goal is the same as it was in the very beginning. I want to continue creating art and capturing memories and experiences for our customer in a tangible way. I’d also love to forge new relationships and collaborations with likeminded, adventurous men and women so Andy Cohen, give me a call…we’re expanding on our men’s line!”