We’re all looking for that special statement accessory, a piece that adds color and texture to every outfit while also shining on its own. Christina Tung’s SVNR earrings embody just that. Her jewelry is playfully sophisticated with a vintage feel and is made almost entirely from recycled beads and shells. We talked to Tung to learn the full story behind her successful side hustle, where she finds inspiration, and the importance of trusting your own crazy ideas.

Brit + Co: When did you become interested in collecting beads?

Christina Tung: As a kid, I collected just about everything — beads, stickers, stamps, coins, and Barbies.

B+C: Do you have any formal jewelry making training or experience?

CT: I guess you could say I’m self-taught, but now that there’s some interest in what I’m doing, I definitely feel the desire and some pressure to learn more traditional techniques.

B+C: Where does the name SVNR come from?

CT: I really love the sound of the word souvenir. I took French from middle school to high school, and have been fascinated with the etymology of words and the evolution of meanings and connotations over time and across cultures. In French, it means “to remember,” but in English, it’s usually referring to a tchotchke. I love the nostalgia of objects and physical representations of a time and place.

B+C: How did you decide to reuse materials instead of buying them new?

CT: I’ve always been so sensitive about waste. Even for my senior project in high school and throughout college I was altering vintage clothes and jewelry. Anything I’m interested in and anything I can do to create something of value and keep it from the landfills for a bit longer.

B+C: What are your favorite stones and materials to work with?

CT: Agate and quartz seem to be the most prevalent — there are just so many variations and colors. I love anything that’s rough cut. The natural raw texture gives it a point of difference from the perfectly faceted or polished uniformity of stones we’re so used to seeing.

B+C: What advice would you give women about unlocking their own creative power?

CT: Just give it a shot! Anything can happen. I never thought anyone would be interested in these little earrings I was just making for myself. No matter how crazy your idea might seem, crazier things have happened. Also, on the practical side, I’ve been mindful to keep my overhead low. Whether that might be financial or emotional or time investment, keep it manageable so you don’t put too much pressure and expectation on your craft.

B+C: Can you see this becoming a new career or are you content side hustling?

CT: I’m content side hustling but have definitely thought about what life might look like if it became a successful career. I want to maintain the joy of creation, and that might go beyond jewelry into other kinds of goods, vintage, artisanal, imported… SVNR has unlocked a new way of thinking for me.

Do you have a creative side hustle? Tell us @BritandCo!

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(Photos via SVNR)