As the age-old saying goes, “Like mother, like daughter” and, in the case of Nadine Hammoud and Cherine Altobaishi, nothing could be truer. As the mother-daughter duo behind NC Rocks arrives at the Savoir Flair office for a first meeting, long black hair flowing behind them, it’s impossible not to notice the physical similarities between them, making them seem more like sisters than anything else. But the similarities don’t stop there. Hammoud, of Lebanese and Turkish origins, is an artist at heart, of the kind that has become increasingly rare in today’s society, and she has imparted this passion to her Saudi-born daughter, having raised her in a home filled with books, paintings, and music. It was in 2014 that they decided to team up to launch their line in June of this year, combining their shared passions and their individual strengths. In her own words, Hammoud is “an artist stuck in the 30s,” while her daughter has taught her about trends and technology, “bringing the designs into the 21st century”.
Together, they created NC Rocks, a fine-jewelry company with breathtaking designs made from 18k gold, diamonds, precious gemstones, and colored enamel. The pieces have an old-world charm to them, undoubtedly due in large part to Hammoud’s romantic eye for the old, and modern appeal, Altobaishi’s touch. They were created to appeal to two very different generations of women; “The beauty of an NC Rocks piece is that it can be easily worn by both our groups of friends,” they explain.
With immense passion and love in their voices, both for their craft and for one another’s companionship and support, they take us through the creation of their brand.
How did the idea of working together to create NC Rocks come about?
Nadine: Many things led to the creation of NC Rocks, but it mostly came from a lot of hardship and pain. Those experiences caused us to dig deep and the gift of creation has been the savior in my life. Sometimes, the lows in your life are what push you to reach your highest potential. I always believed in our talents and in doing something big with that, but it was Cherine who pushed me further towards realizing our goals and that this dream of ours could in fact become a reality. I am grateful to have her by my side and feel blessed and excited for the future.
Cherine: I’ve always believed in going for this, as I felt my mother’s talents deserved to be shared with the world. Together, we make such a strong team. I think making this dream a reality was my way of thanking her for being such a great influence in my life. I grew up around my mother and grandmother’s love for vintage and old eras and lots of art. They were both painters and interior decorators, and they would design their own clothes and jewelry. I developed my taste level learning from them, so it was only natural for me to get into jewelry design, as it was a field that I was very influenced by and really loved. For us, jewelry isn’t just an accessory; it’s a story and a memory that is cherished. We want our wearers to write its future and tell their own stories. I hope to pass this down to my daughter someday and for this legacy to continue and be everlasting.
How did both your lives lead up to this moment? What were you previously doing?
Nadine: I’ve been creating my whole life – whether it was painting, interior decorating, or designing clothes and jewelry, so it felt like the most natural progression to hone in on my skills and start developing my own brand that really represents who I am as a designer.
Cherine: I’ve always been artistically inclined as a result of growing up around and learning from my mother. I spent a year in LA after I graduated from college to explore my artistic side. I pursued music and singing, another passion of mine, and at the same time would share designs, sketches, and ideas with my mother, who was doing the same in Dubai. I could picture us becoming a part of what I was seeing around me in the marketplace. When I decided to move back the following year, we had unintentionally set a great foundation for our own line that combined both our outlooks and different worlds… It was just meant to be.
Talk to us about your inspiration process. You are both creative people by nature, but where do you go when you’re in need of inspiration? What inspires you the most?
Nadine: Art is my biggest inspiration; paintings, sculptures, colors, and nature feed my soul. They are natural thoughts that are constantly in my mind. I am always watching in my head, breaking down shapes and spaces – sometimes it’s draining! I also love to visit vintage markets wherever I am in the world. It gives me a buzz to be in that old world that no longer exists.
Cherine: Everything inspires me, from the places I’ve been to and the colors they represent to nature, buildings, and memories. My mother and I love to get lost in art books and our home is filled with them. Making music and singing also inspires me, as it’s an expression of myself and a feeling I get that transcends into art and design.
Yours is a beautiful story of mother-daughter bond. What has the experience of working with each other been like?
Nadine: Not much has changed since I started working with Cherine. It’s such a natural bond that has transcended into designing and working together. We’ve always been close and done things together, but starting NC Rocks and living the same vision and taking all these steps together has been such a blessing and a lot of fun too. It has been a journey full of special moments that has brought us even closer.
Cherine: My mother is my best friend, so I couldn’t be happier sharing this journey with her. It has been an amazing adventure and learning experience for us. I cherish her advice and look up to her style and design aesthetic so much. We feed off each other’s energies and are each other’s strength.
Who brings what to the table? How are the roles divided between the two of you?
Cherine: We are both artists at heart and love designing together. However, my mother is definitely the free-spirited one and gets carried away with all her thoughts and ideas. I am able to balance that out by being more concrete and business savvy and steer the business towards our retail and marketing goals. It’s just a natural use of our individual talents and skills.
Nadine: I’ve always been about the “old world” and vintage and the beauty of that time, and Cherine is much more in tune with pop culture and the latest trends, so we end up merging these perspectives to create timeless pieces that span different generations.
Would you say, in your case, that art imitates life or vice versa?
Nadine: As an artist myself, I think that art imitates life, because it is a constant expression of who I am in everything that I do and the way that I think and live. But interestingly, life also imitates art, because it is a mirror image of your beliefs, what you love, your influences in music, design, etc. that transcend into your life and how you choose to live it. I think they are one and the same.
What’s on the horizon for NC Rocks?
Cherine: We have just introduced some new pieces to the line and will continue doing so. There is always something in the pipeline – we look forward to all the opportunities coming our way and are so grateful for the great feedback we have received so far.
Click through the gallery for an exclusive first look at the collection.
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Photo: Courtesy of NC ROCKS