You can often find Leucadia artist Erin Fader combing through the flea market, one of her favorite spots to unearth vintage finds — which, with a little elbow grease and a lot of creativity, she transforms into conversation piece jewelry.
A swatch from Grandma’s handkerchief becomes the centerpiece for a locket, for example, and an antique mailbox tag is given new life as part of a bracelet. Making the old new again is a talent and passion she discovered while working at a secondhand shop, fittingly.
“I found this entire world of beautiful things people didn’t’ want anymore,” she says. And soon, those “beautiful things” worked their way into her jewelry pieces, which she’d been making for years as a hobby.
After enough positive response, Fader launched Trashy Chic, a line of jewelry that is now 5 years strong. The third Sunday of every month Fader sells her work at the , and her local fan-base is steadily growing.
“The payback for me is being able to take something old or forgotten, polish it up, and turn it into something new for someone to love,” she says, adding that repurposing items this way is the purest form of recycling. That element feeds her other life’s passion: environmentalism.
Fader goes to great length to make sure all of her products are as eco-friendly as possible, and even uses resin made from recycled petroleum. She also occasionally incorporates feathers into her work, which she outsources from a farm that allows the birds to naturally molt them, making them cruelty-free.
Most of her pieces are moderately priced and eventually, she hopes to add a high-end line. Fader is now working to launch a spring/summer collection and a fall/winter collection, something typically done by fashion designers. That’s fitting, she says, because a lot of her inspiration comes from the fashion world, and she feels jewelry and clothes go hand-in-hand.
“And even in fashion, you’re always picking up something from the past,” she adds.
Fader also works on commission, taking family keepsakes that would likely sit in a box and turning them into a piece someone can wear regularly. One mother recently asked her to use diamonds from her wedding band and coins with sentimental value to create a cuff bracelet, which she then gave to her daughter as a wedding gift.
It’s stories like these, Fader says, that are at the heart of her mission.
“It makes me sad to think about how much we mass-produce, how poorly it’s all made, and how it mostly ends up going to a landfill in the end,” she says. “When I hear that years later someone is still enjoying something I created, it lets me know I’ve done my part not only as an artist, but also as an environmentalist. It’s why I do this.”
You can find Erin Fader’s pieces at: the the third Sunday of every month; at 629 S. Coast Highway; It’s A Luv Thing at 1053 S. Coast Highway; Mirabella Mansori at 161 S. Highway 101; and at 119 N. El Camino Real. You can also shop her store online. For more information, please visit erinfader.com.