Bloodline jewellery: Hollywood is in love with this Vancouver brand

Feb 18 2022, 2:47 pm

“I’ve always been creative,” says Malcolm Norman, founder of Bloodline jewellery.

As a student growing up in New Brunswick, he spent more time gazing out the window than concentrating on his schoolwork. He says, “When you’re young and you’re that type of person, school’s not a lot of fun. Those boxes you’re put in aren’t a lot of fun and you’re not rewarded for it.”

Bloodline jewelleryThese days, Malcolm is rewarded for his creativity, with his bold designs worn by celebrities and Vancouverites alike. But he never set out to be a jeweller.

He spent several years designing and marketing snowboards, and working so hard that he got completely burned out. Then he met Andrea, who became his wife.

“It literally was love at first sight,” he says. “She bought me some rings, and we went into the jeweller to get them resized. He had a great workshop, and I just so gravitated to the workshop and the tools.”

Bloodline jewelleryAlmost immediately, Malcolm quit his snowboarding job and began pursuing this new passion. “I was lucky. I rented a bench at a master caster’s in Vancouver, and he was the main caster for all the jewellers. I would get to interact with every jeweller in Vancouver, and I learned a lot through seeing their pieces,” he says.

“I’d say within probably six months we launched the line, and it was booked at Hill’s of Kerrisdale, Leone, Chachkas — all the early amazing boutiques in Vancouver. Within the first year I was represented in New York at a showroom. And then LA, and then Paris.”

At this point, Malcolm was working out of the couple’s one-bedroom apartment. “The kitchen table was my bench. I had a shop vac hanging out the window with the hose coming in, and that was the dust collector. I had a Black+Decker drill that was in a clamp that had the buffing wheel on it.” He adds with a laugh, “And we’d get a knock on the door from the neighbours at around 11 o’clock at night.”

Bloodline jewelleryThe couple — along with their young son and fledgling business — had clearly outgrown the small space. “We moved from the single-bedroom apartment to our current house, converted the basement, and then the triplets came along.”

Bloodline was booming, but suddenly adding three more sons to the family made Malcolm and Andrea re-evaluate the amount of time they were devoting to their business. “We made a decision pretty quickly that instead of having nannies and going that route, we really wanted to enjoy these little guys. And so we pulled back from the crazy growth that was happening with the brand and focussed on the family,” Malcolm says.

Even as they were easing off a bit, stylists in the movie business were discovering Bloodline jewellery, which led to celebrities learning about the brand and ordering custom pieces. Malcolm says, “That was a big part of financing us through the family years.”

The list of Bloodline’s fans is practically a who’s-who of Hollywood stars, including Ryan Reynolds, Mark Wahlberg, Halle Berry, Eddie Murphy, Vin Diesel, KJ Apa, Chloë Grace Moretz, Will Smith and Hugh Jackman. Mariah Carey and Tommy Lee are also huge fans of Malcolm’s work.

 

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All those years of emphasizing family togetherness clearly paid off, since three of the four sons now work in the family biz. Malcolm recently complimented one of his sons at work, and his son responded, “Dad, I’ve been doing this since I was three years old.” The boys quite literally grew up playing in their father’s studio — and learning a lot of useful skills along the way. Malcolm says, “They’re having fun, which is awesome. We all have fun.”

Malcolm and his wife still enjoy working together, too. “We’re clearly pretty good partners and can work long hours and still go to dinners together. It’s great.”

Bloodline jewelleryAnother thing that has never changed over the years is Malcolm’s commitment to sustainability.

Growing up in New Brunswick, he always felt deeply connected to nature. “I’ve been a fly fisherman my entire life. The first time I made money with my hands, I was tying salmon flies. At the age of 13, I was tying professionally for Doak’s fishing tackle, which is kind of like the Barneys New York of tackle shops.”

Then he fell in love with the beauty of the West Coast. “I’ve been in Vancouver for 30-plus years, for love of what BC is: mountains, rivers, oceans. For me it’s incredible. I leave my house and I’m on a boat and I’m salmon fishing within 20 minutes.”

As a committed environmentalist, it simply made sense to Malcolm to emphasize sustainability in his business practices: reusing wax, even though the process was expensive in the beginning, and using reclaimed silver in all of his jewellery. He’s proud of the fact that each one of his pieces is made in Vancouver: “It’s never on a container ship. It’s never in a cellophane wrapper.”

In almost three decades of handcrafting pieces, Malcolm has never worried about running out of ideas. “I think I could design pretty much all day, every day,” he says. “My last two collections, I designed on a narrative. So I started with a written theme, and then I designed off of that. And that was a ton of fun.”

Bloodline jewelleryWhen asked about his favourite piece ever, Malcolm answers immediately: the Angel Wing Ring. “It’s big. It’s rock and roll. It’s showy. It’s hip-hop. It’s in your face. And then on the band, I put ‘Dream.’” He explains, “Be free to dream. Be yourself. I love seeing the people that get that ring. Eighteen-year-olds love it. Sixty-year-old women love it.”

 

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Malcolm has always enjoyed making a personal connection with the people who wear Bloodline jewellery, which is part of why the company opened a popup shop on West 4th Avenue for the Christmas season. Customers ranged from folks who’d never heard of the brand before to diehard fans who were eager to show off their Bloodline purchases from decades ago.

“To see people interact with the collections was incredibly uplifting,” Malcolm says. In particular, it helped his sons to see for themselves the connections that customers make to Bloodline jewellery. “When they got to see how people engage with the pieces, and how it’s a personal thing for those people, that really rounded out the picture for them and made them understand a lot more.”

 

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It also didn’t hurt Malcolm’s cool factor when his sons saw their dear old dad interacting with rappers and other musicians. His sons’ reaction? “Wow, Dad, a lot of people know you! That’s really cool.” Malcolm mentions specifically the designs he’s done recently for Boslen, a young Vancouver hip-hop artist.

The popup store was such a success that Bloodline is now actively looking for a permanent brick-and-mortar space in Vancouver.

Bloodline jewelleryAnd it’s not just about Malcolm and his family connecting to customers. Folks who wear Bloodline jewellery have a habit of finding each other.

“People that wear our pieces will be in London, they’ll be in Japan, they’ll be in some resort somewhere or hotel lobby, and they’ll have people come up and go, ‘Hey, is that Bloodline?’” Malcolm says.

“A really neat thing is that once people start buying Bloodline, we become a part of their family,” he continues. “The 18-year-old will have it, the 60-year-old mom will have it, then they’ll give it to each other, and then you become part of their celebrations: graduation, marriage, death, everything.”

More than almost any other purchase, jewellery carries an emotional heft. Malcolm sums it up succinctly: “Those pieces of jewellery that you buy, they mark a point in your life. They help you celebrate and remember.”

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Sheri RadfordSheri Radford

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