We at MyTennisLessons love to hear about people who are so passionate about the game, they take that passion off the court. Such is the case for USTA player Hazel Nussbaum who two years ago launched her own line of tennis jewelry that she hopes embodies how she and fellow players feel about the game. We caught up with Hazel to hear more about her line Love Tennis by Hazel and what the game means to her.
1. Can you talk about how you first got started playing tennis and your involvement with the sport now?
My mom introduced me to tennis when I was 4 years old and I have loved the game from the first time I held the racquet. I played any chance I could get, even making a fake court on the street in front of my house when I couldn’t get to the courts. I just loved the sound of the ball hitting the strings — I still do! I played on my high school tennis team and then in college at Manhattan College in Riverdale, NY (Div. I). It was in college where I really developed as a player. I had really never had any formal lessons before then so this was my first real exposure to on-court strategy. After college, I continued developing and was able to afford proper lessons and I just fell even more in love with the game. I joined the USTA and have even competed at the national tournament three times, which was awesome!
2. You said you were inspired to create Love Tennis because you couldn’t find quality jewelry that expressed how you felt about the game. In what ways does your line capture your love for tennis?
When I made it to national tournament the second time, I wanted to treat myself to celebrate this accomplishment, and wanted to buy a piece of jewelry; jewelry for me is like a souvenir. I have jewelry pieces from every place I have ever visited around the world. And I really wanted a nice piece of tennis jewelry to commemorate this moment, but I couldn’t find it. Consumers are overwhelmed with jewelry choices, but the sports fan has been left unattended: the classic sports jewelry department is almost non-existent. All I found online were cheap, kitschy pieces and that wasn’t what I was looking for; I thought these pieces were not serious enough to express the love and passion I have for the game. So I took what I have learned throughout my career in brand marketing and started my own jewelry brand. Tennis fans are passionate and bold, dedicated and refined, all at the same time. All pieces by Love Tennis by Hazel are made for these fans.
3. Tell us about your business and how it has grown and changed over the last few years.
I officially launched the business in May 2012 so I have just had my two-year anniversary. It has been such an exciting time for me because I have received so many personal emails from customers thanking me for creating this line because they also felt the way I did — they had been looking for nice, classic tennis jewelry pieces and couldn’t find it — this makes me feel really good! My jewelry line is my personal contribution to the sport. I currently have three collections: New York, Paris and London. Each collection is inspired by their respective grand slam tournaments. The New York Collection is bold and unapologetic much like the crowd and atmosphere at the U.S. Open. The Paris Collection is romantic and whimsical and reminds you of sipping coffee at a sidewalk café or taking a walk by the Seine. The London Collection is inspired by the stately grace and elegance that is Wimbledon. I hope to launch the final collection, Melbourne, in 2016. This has been delayed because it takes a lot of time and investment to get each design right and I still have a lot of potential to grow the current collections so my focus remains here for the moment.
4. Do you have a favorite collection and/or piece?
I always say each piece is like a child of mine and I shouldn’t have a favorite, but of course I do! The Racquet Icon Necklace from the Paris Collection is my favorite piece. It has also become a favorite among my customers. I love it because it’s versatile — I wear it all the time both on and off the court.
5. Can you describe the functionality and style of your line? Is this something you see women wearing both on and off the court?
Every piece can be worn on court, however, I think some are more dressy and perhaps wear better off the court. For example, the Racquet & Ball Lariat Necklace is also a huge favorite with my customers and while many do wear it on the court, I prefer to wear this necklace off the court; I think it’s a great conversation piece at a dinner party!
7. At MyTennisLessons, our goal is to help players find coaches and lessons that suit their tennis needs. Similarly, I feel that your jewelry suits your clients’ tennis needs in the sense that it expresses players’ love for the sport. If you can, elaborate on how your pieces create that connection between the player and the game.
Tennis players are a unique bunch. I don’t think any sport has adult players that are so involved and passionate as tennis players. We play matches with the focus and intent of someone playing for a Grand Slam title. We will train at the gym to help us perform better at our next USTA match and beat our nemesis. We may even miss an anniversary because we have a tennis match. Tennis is like breathing; it’s something we can’t live without. My jewelry line brings all this to life by expressing the passion points of the game: winning, motivation, sophistication, elegance and team spirit.