Holly Yashi Electrically Charged Jewelry
● By Amber Galusha
Paul Lubitz and Holly Hosterman of Holly Yashi
Photo: Courtesy of Holly Yashi
There’s a magical place just off the beaten path in Arcata filled with shimmering, glimmering things and a creative energy that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. What is this magical place? Holly Yashi.
The Holly Yashi story began in 1981 when two Humboldt State University graduates, Holly Hosterman and Paul “Yashi” Lubitz, combined their talents to create and market handcrafted jewelry. Hosterman, a studio art major who had been making jewelry since junior high, became the company’s creative force, while Lubitz, who majored in music and industrial technology, provided innovative business ideas. Together, the friends and business partners have molded Holly Yashi into the thriving jewelry company it is today.
Like many businesses, Holly Yashi had a humble beginning. “When we first started, we were living in a tiny house that had a cold, dark and damp garage,” Hosterman says of her first design studio.
“It was a single-car garage with about six feet of head room,” adds Lubitz with a laugh. “But when you don’t have anything else, it’s like, well, here’s a table, let’s make jewelry… So Holly began designing jewelry next to the bikes and lawnmower.”
They’ve come a long way since those cramped creative quarters. Now Hosterman designs jewelry from a 15,000-square-foot studio where artisans transform her fresh ideas into miniature works of art — one piece at a time —using tools designed in house.
The main element used to achieve the Holly Yashi signature style is niobium, a dull grey metal that when dipped into electrically charged water comes alive with a limitless spectrum of colors. Its workability and predictability gives Hosterman the freedom to create whimsical, wearable expressions of art that echo the beauty of the Northern California coast.
“Our jewelry is a story of place,” says Lubitz. “The colors are of the Pacific Ocean, the sunset and the redwood trees.”
Hosterman adds, “The imagery we use on the metal surfaces is inspired by nature and botanical influences that are translated into art.”
And it’s not just the iridescent hues, intricate metal filigree and hand-faceted stones that catch the discerning eye. With alluring names like Petite Enchantress Earrings, Alchemy Necklace and Love Spell Bracelet, who could resist?
Women of all ages and backgrounds have been charmed by Hosterman’s designs, including musicians Joan Baez and Bonnie Raitt, actress Sandra Oh and author Ree Drummond, also known as The Pioneer Woman, “The designs are very feminine,” says Hosterman. “Women are attracted to the delicate look and feel of Holly Yashi jewelry.”
Retailers worldwide — 1,000 and counting — from California to New York and from the United Kingdom to Australia offer Holly Yashi jewelry for sale, giving longtime collectors and new fans some 1,000 designs to choose from. But you don’t have to travel far to find your must-have pair of earrings or pendant. Since 2011, customers have been perusing and purchasing jewelry directly from the Holly Yashi Store next to the design studio at 1300 9th Street in Arcata.
Visitors will find more than jewelry behind the purple door at the Holly Yashi store. “You’ll find fine gifts that you won’t find anywhere else,” says Hosterman.
And customers can watch the magic happen from the Holly Yashi studio viewing room. “You might even see designs that won’t be out until next month,” says Lubitz.
So, if sipping a complimentary cappuccino while browsing fragrant candles, stacks of books and heirloom-quality jewelry sounds like a great way to spend your day, you’ll want to add a visit to Holly Yashi —a jewelry store and more—to your bucket list. •