The scarves created by Troy Mattison Hicks and Stephano Diaz, co-owners and creative minds behind Necklush, have no equal in the world of fashion. Working alongside two eager-to-please chihuahuas at their studio, the pair create their patented project together: an infinity scarf necklace hybrid flush with colors and patterns.
The pair met in 2000 while exploring the New York City nightlife, seeking a creative community to steep themselves in. After several years of “working for the man” with no true forms of expression, however, the two decided to do what they dreamed of all along — becoming artists. Shortly after the pair quit their jobs and began making t-shirts, where they soon caught the infamous Etsy bug in 2007.
“Soon after that we had a lot of material scraps from our shirts,” Hicks says. “We had these scraps and loops and put them up on a mannequin and thought, ‘Hey that looks pretty good.’ So we started to work with it and patented the multi-strand infinity scarf.”
The process was long and arduous, requiring a meticulous patent search to make sure the idea had never been done before, and luckily for the duo, the “fresh take” of the multi-strand infinity scarf was theirs. They set up shop, and from there the rest was history, with the pair moving to Athens in 2013.
“Everything was a big learning curve because we’d never owned a business before, we didn’t really know what we were doing,” Hicks says.
Hicks and Diaz use many processes when creating their scarves, bracelets and headbands, including hand-printing, screen-printing, airbrushing and dip-dying to create different colors, prints and effects. They come up with their own digital designs, and feature no store-bought fabrics because “everything’s made by the two of us.”
“We can always come up with something else, there’s always another pattern you can make, there’s always another color combo” Hicks says. “Sometimes there are custom orders and the client might come up with something that we think is pretty good so we’ll add it to our repertoire.”
Necklush has been featured in many magazines, including US Weekly, LA Times Magazine, Glamour, TimeOutNY and Accessories Magazine. Locally, the brand is also featured by appointment in their showroom and in a booth at Atomic, and pieces are available in Dynamite Clothing and Treehouse Kid & Craft. Additionally, Necklush represented Etsy in the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt Design Museum’s Design Triennial, chosen out of 800,000 artists to be included in a three month show.
“It all happened really fast,” Hicks says. “Etsy kind of took us under their wing promoting us from the very beginning, splashing us across the front page. Then magazines started picking us up and once that happened we had a little viral episode and we took off.”
In addition to Athens locations, Necklush products grace the shelves at several museum shops like the Art Institute of Chicago, Santa Monica Museum of Art, The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Institute of Contemporary Art Boston and the Weisman Art Museum. On top of these venues, the pair also have a satellite company, Necklush Korea, in Seoul.
“We were approached by a company in Seoul that had been following us for a long time and they wanted to know if we’d licences our name brand in a product line where Stephano and I would be designers for this separate company,” Hicks says. “We cut a deal with them and now we go back and forth to Seoul to design new patterns, basically the same products but a different market.”
Despite impressive locations and global features, however, Hicks stressed the importance of person-to-person sales and interactions, and said Athens strongly influences his and Diaz’s work.
“My favorite thing is meeting people,” he says. “Everyone’s really receptive here. I didn’t realize there would be such a tight-knit community of people who were supportive of local business and artists and food. I knew it would be special here, but I didn’t have any idea.”
Athenians themselves are most often are the models used for Necklush photoshoots, all photography done by Hicks himself, including rising fashion star and Dynamite employee Trevor Blake.
“I enjoy meeting models, people on the street. We’ve been working with Washington Street Studios, near the 40 Watt Club," Hicks says. "Now we’re working with local businesses taking pictures with them. Like Dynamite, who provide us with clothes for our models."
Customer satisfaction is exceptionally important for both producers who depend on feedback, helping them to cater better to customer needs and increase accessibility.
“We take great pride in the quality of our work and the uniqueness of it, and it’s exciting to see the reactions,” Hicks says. “We like our business, we like that it’s manageable by the two of us and that we’re part of the community. I like being an artist above all, so I think we’re gonna try to stay creative and keep it rolling.”