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Laker designs and crafts commemorative pins for former women governors

  • Photo of the 12 pins designed and crafted commemorative pins for the attendees of the Conference for U.S. Women Governors.
  • Photo of a pin designed and crafted commemorative pins for the attendees of the Conference for U.S. Women Governors.
  • Photo of Emma Hoekstra

Posted on September 11, 2017

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and several other former governors from across the U.S. attended the first-ever Conference for U.S. Women Governors September 8-9 at Grand Valley.

All of the 12 governors in attendance were presented with a special, commemorative pin that was designed and crafted by Emma Hoekstra, a senior who is majoring in jewelry and metalsmithing.

“I created the structure of the pin to represent how effective leaders bring people together by establishing a vision, communicating a strategy and motivating individuals to work together to achieve a common goal,” said Hoekstra. “The deep navy blue of the enamel symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, sincerity, stability, truth, faith and dimensions of good leadership.”

Hoekstra said that the structural simplicity of the design of the governor pins, along with the other jewelry in her personal collection, conveys confidence and strength.

“My jewelry is really about being who you are — confident, edgy and unique,” she explained. “I blend a variety of metals, mostly silver, and unique gemstones. The signature elements of my work include dimensional geometrics and open airiness, architectural organics and bold lines.”

The vision for the design of the pins came from Hoekstra’s personal feeling of inspiration toward the governors who attended the conference, which was hosted by Grand Valley’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, in partnership with the National Governors Association.

“I am inspired by, and personally thankful to, every one of the woman governors for all of their strength, courage, hard work and, most importantly, for the example they set for all women,” said Hoekstra.

Prior to designing the governor pins, Hoekstra refined her craft during a recent study abroad adventure in Florence, Italy, through Grand Valley’s Padnos International Center. There, she worked next to successful jewelers and teachers in the field.

“The connections I made in Italy with other designers and teachers gave me a global perspective and confidence I would not have had otherwise,” she said. “I decided I need to really focus on the design elements of the Emma Elizabeth Jewelry Collection.”

In addition to her study abroad experience, Hoekstra said working for Studio Jewel and Julie Sanford Designs, both based in Grand Haven, has helped prepare her for the challenge of creating the governor pins.

Hoekstra is motivated to channel all of these positive experiences toward creating her own business and a Laker Effect that involves offering experiential learning opportunities to other jewelry and metalsmithing enthusiasts.

“Eventually, I want to own my own business, working completely for myself, and pay it forward by doing what I can to help other passionate young people to reach their goals and follow their dreams,” she said.