So, that’s exactly what Nancy, the founder of Louder Jewelry, decided to do.
I was casually browsing my Instagram when I first discovered Louder Jewelry’s account – or rather her really cool earrings that had ‘Deaf’ written on them. I dug further into her account and discovered I “liked” nearly every piece of her unique, deaf-friendly jewelry.
I wanted to learn more about her beautiful jewelry, so I got in touch with Nancy to find out more about this latest deaf craze!
Ellie: What inspired you to set up Louder Jewelry?
Nancy: When I was younger and I had that standard, teenage, low self-esteem thing going on, and those (awkward interactions and annoying explanations) would really get me down. Being young and hard of hearing is difficult enough, but having to explain to strangers why I couldn’t hear them was even harder. My mom used to joke around and say I should wear a sign and at the time I thought that was an impractical idea.
“My mom used to joke around and say I should wear a sign and at the time I thought that was an impractical idea.”
As I got older and more self-sufficient, the examples of why that idea wasn’t so bad kept piling up. Whether I was at the bank, the check-out counter at a grocery store, or a clerk is asking if I needed their help in a clothing store with loud music – everywhere I went I was just waiting for that moment to explain to someone why I couldn’t hear them.
Finally, I started thinking… like why I can’t just have a cool piece of jewelry that communicates my hearing loss without me having to waste my breath or constantly be “on-call.” All these years later, I realized that my mom was onto something- only now, I think I figured out a way to create messages that help deafies feel cool and good about themselves. Deaf is an awesome word and I really want to shine a light on it. I wouldn’t trade my identity as a deaf person for anything. We have a totally unique experience that is really worth checking out.
“Deaf is an awesome word and I really want to shine a light on it. I wouldn’t trade my identity as a deaf person for anything.”
Ellie: That’s so interesting! I can totally relate… What’s your favorite piece of jewelry?
Nancy: The stEAReo piece is totally my fave, because in my mind it services all members of the Deaf/HOH community. If you’re Deaf, just switch that bad boy off. Your message is loud and clear. And if you’re like me and your hearing fluctuates, you might have days where you are more or less willing to put in the considerable energy it takes to hear people out in the world. In that case, you can switch between off and on depending on your mood. Also, I have a super soft spot for the CC (closed caption) earrings because I am a HUGE TV/Movie fan.
Ellie: Awesome, the stEAReos are my favorite ones too! Do you have a hearing loss yourself?
Nancy: Oh yes! My hearing loss was discovered when I was in first grade. I was 7 years old and I took the first test I ever “failed” in front of all my classmates. They put the headphones on my little head and I patiently waited to throw my arms up in the air like all the other kids before me, but as I waited I didn’t hear anything.
I had just demolished the eye exam, so I was expecting similar success. After a little while I turned around to say the test hadn’t started and that’s when I saw the horrified faces of my teachers. I probably saw like 100 different audiologists that year. No one knew what was causing it.
At 17, I lost the majority of my hearing all at once and 15 years later it remains the same. I have a bilateral sensorineural hearing loss that is severe and fond of fluctuating!
Ellie: Oh dear, I can’t imagine how that must’ve made you feel! Is there a message behind your jewelry?
Nancy: My message breaks down into three hopes:
Ellie: Those are cool messages, and it’s great that small organizations benefit too! Do you make any kinds of jewelry or just hearing loss related?
Nancy: At this early stage I’m focusing on Deaf/HOH jewelry because it’s what I know best, but my hope for the future is to include pieces for a diverse range of life experiences. I named the line Louder Jewelry because I think all underserved communities deserve a chance to communicate and be proud of their experience. “Get Prouder. Get LOUDER.”
Ellie: That’s a catchy slogan, I like it! Have you got any ideas for the future?
Nancy: I’m always working on new jewelry designs and I’m also just beginning to expand into accessories, including hats, stickers, temporary tattoos and bandanas. Anything that fits into what I call the “communication zone,” or the zone that’s generally within the line of sight during everyday communication (e.g. earrings, necklaces, etc.). Beyond that, I’m also creating pieces for men!
Ellie: Wow, lots of ideas then! I can’t wait to see them. Can you sum up your life story in a few sentences?
Nancy: Even though I started losing my hearing at 7, I haven’t let that hold me back. I did let it trip me up from time to time, but I can honestly say now that it’s only because I’m Deaf that I believe I am capable of anything. I’ve traveled the world, I studied psychology, then law, then early childhood education, and I know there’s more! If I can lift a few people up in the process, then mission accomplished.
“I can honestly say now that it’s only because I’m Deaf that I believe I am capable of anything.”
Ellie: I admire your passions! Deaf people can achieve anything! Who would you love to see wear your jewelry?
Nancy: You! Anyone who’s Deaf, deaf, HOH, or some form of that. CODAs, anyone that loves ASL or someone that’s Deaf/HOH. Advocates, audiologists, supportive hearing people… Literally anyone who can benefit from its message or relate to it in some way. This jewelry is for everyone.
Ellie: Haha! I’d love to get some myself, keep an eye out on my Instagram for them! Thanks for your time Nancy, it’s been great chatting with you!