Words and photos by Olivia Bauso
We adopt some talents, crafts or habits as kids that we never outgrow. Whether it’s reading books, drawing, cutting out of magazines, or collecting beads, these small passions can grow into something more as adults.
Hannah Caruso tells me she hates to give the generic “I’ve loved it since I was a child” story when talking about her craft. But, there’s no way around it: her love for making jewelry came at a young age. As a kid, she and her family would frequently travel to Cape Cod where there was a particular bead store she couldn’t get enough of. She laughs, “I didn’t want to go to the beach… I just wanted to go to the bead store. That’s all I ever wanted to do.” She collected beads over a number of years, that eventually found themselves hidden in her dad’s basement. About five years ago, the beads resurfaced. With encouragement from her father, Hannah finally began to do something with them.
“I literally would just hang out, sit on the couch and make stuff,” Hannah explains. She just loved getting her fingers busy with small, intricate work -- “and I’m really good at it, too,” she adds. After creating a number of pieces and distributing her work amongst family and friends, Hannah realized the whole operation could grow from there. Thanks to the help of family and friends, and family and friends of family and friends, Hanalin Designs was born.
Hannah Lynne Caruso is a Rochester native. After graduating as a student athlete from Penfield High School, she traveled to Cabrini College to continue her Lacrosse career. She decided to make a switch about a semester in, and transferred to FIT in New York City to pursue her love for fashion and design. She tells me, “I went in for Fashion Merchandising because I didn’t have the background for design, but I wanted to be in that realm-- and that’s always kind of stuck with me.” However, the industry was too cut-throat for her, despite her passion for the work. Hannah bounced around for a few semesters and spent some time in California before completing her undergraduate work at the University of Buffalo. There, she received her BS in Health and Human Services and explored her original love for psychology. Hannah recently received her MS in Mental Health Counseling from local St. John Fisher College in September 2016.
Full-time, Hannah works as a therapist in the area. After traveling around during undergrad, she realized she wanted to stay around her family. “I’m a very family-oriented person,” she affirms. During the day, Hannah runs group and individual therapy sessions. But after work, she spends up to five hours putting together just one handmade necklace, bracelet or set of earrings. “I’m doing it all. It’s hard,” she admits, “Especially while I was going to school, all I wanted to do was make.” Hannah also admits she struggles with photographing, editing and posting her work online, as that takes away from her love of the production.
In addition to the business side of her craft, Hannah realizes how difficult it is to stay current and relevant with her work. Her main goal is to remain different from others, which has been a huge difficulty during the process. Hannah says, “There are so many local artists in Rochester that I never want to look like a copy of. I always strive to create an individual look.” So, it’s a balancing act of remaining on trend while still creating pieces unique to Hanalin Designs.
Hannah describes her style as “urban vintage, but pretty.” She’s inspired by similar artists on Pinterest or Instagram, but primarily thinks that her jewelry is headed in Anthropologie’s direction. You can see in detail on her website and Instagram page, but Hannah’s pieces are minimalistic, and often combine leather, metal and stone; the trifecta of modern jewelry. Oh, and she stays far, far away from silvers. “Consistency and sticking with my creative dignity is huge for me,” Hannah explains. “I know a lot of people love silver and steel, but that’s where I’m stubborn! I don’t want to make something just to satisfy. I want to believe it and wear it myself.” She will fill custom silver and steel orders, but sticks to her guns when it comes to her designs.
Hannah hasn’t been selling for very long, but has already received a positive response from the community. Some of her early bead and leather work was even even sold at Tanvi Asher’s Peppermint, which was Hannah’s first trunk show. “Her reaching out to me sort of instilled in me that I could do more. She kind of broke that out of me,” Hannah tells me. Moving forward, Hannah wants to expand her presence in the “show game,” in addition to updating her website with some of her girl friends wearing her pieces. She plans to continue taking every available opportunity to show off her work.
Hannah’s Rochester Faves:
- Roc restaurants: “Blu Wolf Bistro, Roam Cafe and Good Luck… obviously!”
- Roc drinks: “I just love the South Wedge-- I go to Lux a lot, but really anywhere that’s not on the strip on Monroe is good with me.”
- Place to spend time in the city: “I’m gonna sound like I drink a lot, but I just love the bar setting to meet up with girl friends or my boyfriend. I just like fun drinks!”
- Summer festival: “I like the Corn Hill Arts Festival because I think it separates that everyday type of appeal from art and things that take a lot of craft. I love to just look at everything there.”
Hannah will be at our May Brainery Bazaar on May 13th from 11am-5pm, selling her handmade pieces. As usual, the first 25 attendees will be rewarded with a free Rochester Brainery tote filled with goodies from our 30+ vendors!
Words and photos by Olivia Bauso