What does Nalu mean?….It is the Hawaiian word for wave, but it also means to ponder, meditate or go with the flow. There’s more to a Nalu bead than meets the eye. Each Nalu bead tells a story…
Lisa Mepstead, founder of Nalu Beads, has always lived by the sea, on the wild Atlantic coast of England. Her earliest memories are of walking the beach collecting shells and pebbles, fascinated by the natural treasures given up by the ocean.
It was in 2008 that this love of the sea flowed into the nalu bead, where she teamed up with local glass makers to produce a small range of glass beads. In the years since, nalu has gone from supplying local surf shops to supplying stockists all over Europe and sending orders all over the world.
In 2013 Rhiannon Davis joined Lisa at Nalu Beads, inspired by her love for all things bright and beautiful and many years travelling the world to surf.
Lisa retired and left Nalu in 2021 to chase her dream of learning to sail and spend more time travelling, leaving the company in the sole hands of Rhiannon.
Together we have built a small team of talented designers, lamp workers and ocean lovers who bring you the range of nalu products you see here today.
Nalu beads are inspired by the distinctive colours of the beaches and breaks they represent, but also by a tradition that stems from the roots of modern day surfing.
In the 1960’s, a time before the internet or Google maps, knowledge of international surf spots was little more than a whisper, passed on by word of mouth as surfers travelled the world seeking the best waves.
Surfing was (and for us still is!) a way of life, a spiritual calling, a lifetime dedication. As paths crossed and the trails were followed, these surf travellers, fuelled on hippie vibes, would return with tales of exotic places and perfect waves. These surfers had a distinctive look too.
Part of this look was the Goulimine beads they wore, signifying their freedom of spirit. Originally from Morocco, but traded amongst surfers, these beads were beautifully coloured and full of character, each one distinctive, each one telling a story.
And so this was the place where the nalu bead began and has continued.
Nalu beads are a reflection of those surfing roots, jewellery with colours that flow like the waves of the breaks that inspire them, jewellery that is an expression of the wearer, of where they’ve been, of how they live their life…
How We're Made…
Each nalu bead has a story…
Our beads are inspired by surf spots, beaches and coastlines we know about or the special places you tell us about. Sometimes it’s the colours - the sky, the sea, the coastline - that characterise a break or beach. Sometimes it’s the feel or mood of a place.
Once we’ve got the vibe, we get to work on our designs to come up with the perfect nalu bead that reflects the place. With the design in place, this is where every nalu sets off on its voyage.
The glass we use comes from Murano, a small island near Venice which, for centuries, has had a reputation for being home to some of the world’s finest glass makers. The colours are hand mixed so that no two batches of glass are ever the same. Every combination of colour produces a different effect, creating an organic quality that gives the nalu bead its distinctive appearance.
In 2010 we travelled the world to find our workshop partners, discovering them in China’s Tianjin province which is famed for its rich culture of glass crafts. For 7 years we continued to work closely with our talented lamp workers in China until the end of 2017 when we decided to move manufacture back to the UK. We felt it was time to reduce any unnecessary carbon footprint and return nalu to its roots as a British company. This has also allowed us to grow our range quicker and offer more bespoke services like our new Beach Sand Beads!
In 2015 we moved into our new studio in Braunton, North Devon, where we were finally able to build our glass working studio and office under one roof, it took a few years but now we have an amazing studio where we can invite you in to explore the world of nalu! We have been building up our small team of talented glass outworkers who are dotted around the UK and are proud to announce that we have moved manufacture completely back to the UK.
And so, back to us in the UK, across the oceans that connect us all, where the next instalment of the nalu bead’s journey begins…with you.