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Waves of Change: How Rocio Segura Turned Her Love for the Ocean into A Sustainable Jewelry Collection

All Photos by Rocio Segura , Model: Rocio Segura

Rocio Segura, the founder of VALSE NYC, isn't your typical entrepreneur. Her journey to sustainable jewelry design began with a deep love for the ocean and a competitive sailing career. After traveling the world and witnessing the alarming level of plastic pollution, she knew she had to act. Combining her artistic talents in photography and jewelry making, Rocio founded VALSE NYC, a brand that empowers self-expression through beautiful, gender-inclusive pieces while giving back to ocean conservation efforts.

We met with Rocio Segura at her beautiful Bushwick studio, where she shared the inspiring story of how her passion for the environment and artistic pursuits converged to create VALSE NYC. A lifelong ocean lover, Rocio also dives (no pun intended) into the brand's commitment to sustainability, its unique design philosophy, and its mission to inspire positive change.

Model: Ovo Drenth

How did your passion for climate activism and your artistic pursuits in photography and jewelry design intersect to give birth to VALSE NYC?

I am an ocean lover. I am from Santander, a city on the northern coast of Spain, surrounded by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. People affectionately call Santander "La Novia del Mar" (The Sea's Girlfriend). Growing up, sailing was my passion, and I pursued it competitively. In 2008, I achieved great success, becoming the Spanish National Champion, European Champion, and World Championship runner-up in the Netherlands.

After these accomplishments, I decided to follow another passion – photography, the art of visual language. I spent a few years in New York City, where I obtained a Master's degree in Digital Photography at the School of Visual Arts. While in NYC, a city also surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, I realized the ocean often feels distant unless you make an effort to reach it.

Inspired by my two brothers who raved about kitesurfing, I couldn't resist learning the sport. Within a year, I was confidently kitesurfing independently and traveling the world for this passion. However, my travels opened my eyes to the alarming level of pollution in the oceans and the abundance of plastic on many beaches worldwide. I knew I had to do something. I pondered how I could use my existing skills to help clean the oceans and beaches.

Model: Sveta

Coincidentally, around this time, my love for jewelry blossomed after receiving beautiful heirloom pieces from my mother. I enrolled in jewelry classes to deepen my understanding of the craft and business. Combining my love for photography, art direction, and the idea of a sustainable and gender-inclusive brand, I envisioned myself as the in-house photographer for a brand I could create.

This vision became VALSE NYC, a sustainable jewelry brand catering to all genders.

What specific environmental issues resonate most with you, and how does your brand's philosophy and designs reflect your commitment to ocean conservation?

The ocean and beach pollution deeply concern me. When we founded VALSE NYC, it was crucial for our brand to have a meaningful impact. We're all passionate ocean lovers here, and simply standing by wasn't an option.

To address this issue, we created MOVEMENT BY VALSE. This initiative contributes to the preservation of our planet's most vital ecosystem, the ocean. We've partnered with Peace Boat, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering a culture of peace and sustainability. Peace Boat US will receive 10% of the profits from our Atlantic collection. These funds will be specifically directed towards their Youth for the SDGs program, focusing on "Life Below Water."

Your brand tagline, "VALSE NYC – Where movement meets stillness," beautifully captures the juxtaposition of your jewelry designs. Can you elaborate on this concept and how it aligns with your vision for the brand?

All our designs for the current collection, THE ATLANTIC, are inspired by the movement of the ocean's waves. Capturing the essence of water in motion on a piece of jewelry is a challenging but rewarding task. It presents a unique opportunity to transform each piece into a wearable work of art. We're so happy with how the collection turned out – I can't wait to wear these pieces myself!

As a metal-only jewelry line, how do you ensure sustainability in your sourcing and production processes? What measures do you take to minimize environmental impact?

Based in Brooklyn, New York, VALSE NYC is a small, passionate team. All pieces in our debut collection, THE ATLANTIC, are made-to-order. We pour love and meticulous attention into every detail of each piece. This small-scale, slow production allows us to minimize waste and easily recycle leftover metal scraps for future creations.

Gender inclusivity is a core tenet of VALSE NYC. Can you share your thoughts on the importance of diversity and representation in the fashion industry?

The fashion industry is embracing gender inclusivity, and VALSE NYC is proud to be a part of this movement. We're committed to breaking away from traditional gender norms and fostering a more diverse and inclusive fashion landscape. Our genderless designs offer versatility, allowing them to be worn and loved by everyone. This approach not only promotes self-expression but also contributes to a more sustainable fashion model by encouraging pieces to be shared and cherished across genders. VALSE NYC aspires to make a positive impact on the industry and consumer perceptions, empowering individuals to express themselves freely without limitations.

Your brand's partnership with non-profit organizations dedicated to ocean conservation highlights your commitment to giving back. Can you tell us about some of the specific initiatives you support?

For the launch of our Atlantic Collection, we're proud to partner with Peace Boat. Founded in 1983, Peace Boat is a respected international NGO working towards peace, human rights, sustainable development, and environmental protection. Together, we aim to significantly raise awareness about UN Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water, and inspire positive action for a healthy ocean and a sustainable future for our blue planet.

Through this partnership, we're contributing to environmental awareness and sustainable development. VALSE NYC is committed to supporting Peace Boat US's youth programs focused on environmental education, particularly those that develop innovative solutions for climate action, ocean preservation, and protection.

How do you leverage your skills as a photographer to showcase VALSE NYC's designs and promote your brand's message of sustainability and ocean conservation?

We're honing our photography skills to craft a captivating visual narrative for VALSE NYC. Transparency is key for us. We want to showcase not only the final designs but also the inspiration behind them, the creative journey, and the values of sustainability and ocean conservation that are core to VALSE NYC. We envision ourselves as a platform that ignites a shared love for the ocean within our community.

To achieve this, we'll leverage social media platforms to share behind-the-scenes glimpses, sneak peeks of upcoming collections, and stories that weave sustainability into the narrative. We invite you to engage with us – your thoughts and feedback on our brand's values are what keep us moving forward!

What impact do you hope to make on the fashion industry and the broader environmental movement through your work with VALSE NYC?

VALSE NYC is a passion project, an experiment driven by my love for the ocean. I'm approaching this journey with an open heart and intuitive spirit, without setting unrealistic expectations or rushing the process. My goal is to build a successful brand based on authenticity, not just through exquisite craftsmanship and our delicate-brutalist designs, but also through our deep commitment to environmental responsibility. We believe in transparency, telling the true story behind VALSE NYC.

Each year, we partner with a non-profit organization aligned with our values. At the end of the year, 10% of our earnings are donated to this cause. As VALSE NYC grows, so does our ability to support ocean conservation. Thanks to your support last year, we were able to contribute to PEACE BOAT's efforts in educating children about the importance of our oceans. This impact is incredibly rewarding, and I'm committed to continuing this journey for as long as possible, leaving a positive mark through creative expression.

What advice would you give to aspiring designers or entrepreneurs who want to use their creativity to make a positive impact on the world?

The impact you make goes beyond your designs; it involves the choices you make as a business owner. Your creativity, combined with a commitment to positive change, allows you to contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive future.

What's next for VALSE NYC? Can you share any exciting plans or projects on the horizon?

VALSE NYC is expanding its horizons! We're excited to announce the introduction of fully customizable pieces. This new offering empowers customers to express their individuality through personalized materials, colors, and details, fostering a deeper connection between wearer and jewelry. We believe this is a significant step forward for VALSE NYC.

Furthermore, we're actively developing powerful, fresh, and unique additions to THE ATLANTIC collection.  These designs will seamlessly integrate with our brand identity and vision, staying true to our core values. At VALSE NYC, we're committed to pushing creative boundaries by thoughtfully combining unique design elements with captivating storytelling.

Photographer: Rocio Segura / @Rocio_Segura_Photography

Models: Sveta / @sveta_cityglow , Adelina Tereschenkova / @adelina.tereshchenkova , Ovo Drenth / @itsovodrenth , Jeffrey Scott / @jeffrescott , Santiago Bouhot / @santiagobouhot

Hair: Izumi Sato / @izuizuizu / @87artists

MUA: Kento Utsubo / @kentoutsubo,

H&MU: Daria / @makeup_darianyc

Nails: Kiyo Okada / @nailsbykiyookada

Shot at: Rockella Space /

1 Comment

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