How will future generations look back at our time here?

For years I obsessed about our legacy in digital times. How will future generations go through the souvenirs of our lives when we are not creating physical objects? Today, when someone from an older generation passes away we have stacks of photo albums, years, newspaper clippings and journals. The sentiment and nostalgia we feel when we and these trinkets is unique and something I fear we are losing. My generation doesn’t print photos, we don’t receive newspapers to cut, we scan our ways into events. Will our children go through our hard-drives to better understand us? Will they have access to the things we have scattered around the social media?

We Talked To Women (And Some Men Too)

I found a co-founder who was as passionate about our legacy as I am. We talked to to over 600 people about the way we create and retain memories. Time and time again we heard them speak about jewelry and photos. It was never the most expensive jewelry but the one that had a story behind it. We found that people valued their photos as much as ever but weren’t printing or creating photo albums. All these images, which represent some of the most special moments and people in our lives are just living in our camera rolls, external hard drives or cloud storage.

Ethnographic research at NYU’s ITP
Ethnographic research at NYU’s ITP

Our Key Takeaways

  • Our favorite piece of jewelry is always the one with the story.
  • Digital photos make our memories feel disposable.
  • Voice is very important. We no longer hear it when loved ones pass way and it lets us hear their emotions.

We realized women have connected experiences and people to jewelry for centuries with lockets and charm bracelets. As wearables were a big trend at that time, we decided to create a modern jewelry brand that that linked to our digitally captured experiences.

The charm bracelet market is a $14 Billion industry which increased curiosity in investors. Out of 300+ applicants, we were 1 in 10 teams who were accepted into a hardware manufacturing accelerator, Highway1. We raised a total of $150,000 and went to San Francisco to work with their team who also took us to Shenzen, China and gave us an inside look at hardware manufacturing.

We Prototyped And Tested. A lot.

Someone told me that if you are not embarrased by your first prototype, you are not testing early enough. The most important thing I learned in hardware is to test and measure everything. It helped us understand cost, materials, lead time and what the steps are. We prototyped everything, from our user experience right down to our packaging. It also pushed people to take us seriously. Most people show up with ideas, we always showed up with our latest prototype.


Gestural Prototypes

At Highway1, the staff loves foam core. We cut some up and began acting like our invention was real. We 3D Printed so many different iterations of our bracelet. At one point our latest design prototype was 3D printed plastic, spray painted silver and each charm is distinctly designed with the tackiest imaginable rhinestones. It looked like a Claire’s bracelet for tweens. Everytime we showed it to someone we would make a joke to let them know the we were fully aware of how ridiculous it looked. As silly as it was, it gave us the opportunity to loosely show how our bracelet will look and work. People would ask us much better questions. Our physical prototypes allowed people to play with our bracelet, put it on their wrists and just *get it*.



Electrical Prototypes

Like most hardware companies we started with LittleBits and Arduino. We sewed up LittleBits to a sock and made an IFTTT recipe to make the first thing people could put on their wrists while we faked the software experience with an interactive prototype. Their reactions made us refine our experience. We figured out exactly what parts of the circuit we needed and began drawing our custom circuits. We learned that going from 0 to 1 was hard, going from 1 to 2 is harder.



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Software Prototypes

Like most hardware companies we started with LittleBits and Arduino. We sewed up LittleBits to a sock and made an IFTTT recipe to make the first thing people could put on their wrists while we faked the software experience with an interactive prototype. Their reactions made us refine our experience. We figured out exactly what parts of the circuit we needed and began drawing our custom circuits. We learned that going from 0 to 1 was hard, going from 1 to 2 is harder.

Demo of App and Bracelet