Photography by Robert Nelson
Hayes Hamilton: the Pathfinder
Milwaukee-born Hayes Hamilton always knew he wanted a career in a creative endeavor, but he wasn’t sure exactly what. So he explored anything that made him happy, beginning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied art with a concentration in sculpture. He then entered the fashion industry in New York, working as a receptionist for Carolina Herrera before moving on to jobs with other designers, assisting at New York Fashion Week, and serving as a personal shopper—as well as stints at Worth magazine and in the dotcom industry. Eight years ago, he relocated to Delray Beach, where he launched his own accessories line. Hamilton creates flower-shaped lapel pins from exotic materials like cobra, crocodile, and lizard skin, along with a collection of decorative lacquer boxes featuring hand-painted coral. The pins are sold at Trillion and Gentlemen’s Corner in Palm Beach, and the tabletop boxes can be found at Mecox in West Palm Beach.
What inspires him: I’ve always been into animals, plants, sea life, spider webs, flowers—just nature and the fact that it surrounds us, our connection to it, and how it relates to making us happy.
Which pin represents him: I haven’t made it yet.
What he collects: Pre-Columbian artifacts.
Most recent purchase: This fantastic divination piece from the Yoruba tribe that dates back to the 1800s. It’s made from cowrie shells and twine and in it is a little flute made from bone. It has this amazing shape, like an octopus.
Where he shops: Anywhere from Neiman’s to thrift.
Go-to restaurant: Pizza al Fresco. The moment you walk in there, you’re transported to Europe.
Favorite author: I think David Sedaris is very funny.
Getaway destination: New York. I like to go back and get that cultural influx—the energy of the city, Central Park, the buildings, everything that’s going on—and then get out before it gets to be too much.
Last passport stamp: Mustique.
Personal reflection: I’m really grateful for where I am in my life. I get to be present, accountable, and genuine in my personal life and in my artistic expression.