People browsing Speakeasy Original jewelry (speakeasyoriginal.com) for the first time would probably describe it as "tough guy" stuff. Jonathan Clingenpeel quickly corrects that. Although he grew up in motorcycle clubs and is covered in tattoos, he said the underground biker world has grown. And he creates his badass, sterling-silver pieces for men who appreciate the community.
"Ever since Sons of Anarchy came out and introduced motorcycle clubs to the rest of the world, everyone [wants] to be a part of that," Clingenpeel explains. "I've been hanging out at Cook's Corner before I could drink, but the crowd has changed." Some biker bars are now home to weekend warriors and what Clingenpeel describes as "those tough hipster guys with beards, tons of tattoos, riding a Harley with Vans and no socks." No doubt these dudes could be considered wannabes, but Clingenpeel says some of them are his best friends.
The Rancho Santa Margarita-based Speakeasy Original started five years ago, when Clingenpeel found a hefty silver ring with an even-heftier price tag of $1,200. "I thought that was way too expensive," he says. With a background in prototyping and design for Oakley, he took a stab at it himself. "In hindsight, instead of spending $1,200 on a ring, I decided to spend thousands of dollars and do it myself," he says, laughing.
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Luckily, Clingenpeel is making his money back. Speakeasy Original pieces range from $60 to $400, and every one is made in Clingenpeel's garage. He casts mostly rings and pendants with skulls and biker helmets, as well as some gas masks. He also has USA pride pieces and a classic "winged wheel," but as Speakeasy's name has spread, Clingenpeel finds himself doing mostly custom work. Motorcycle clubs, car clubs, tattoo shops, even welding shops have reached out to have rings made for their entire crews. Clingenpeel has even been collaborating with Jesse James of West Coast Chopper and the Fuck Cancer Foundation in Huntington Beach.
Check out Speakeasy at Born Free in Oak Canyon and Ink N Iron in Long Beach. And get them while they're still a mom-and-pop brand; Harley-Davidson started out of a garage, after all. . . .