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Alumna runs custom clay jewelry business through instagram DMs

Hannah Rexinger created her brand Linden Avenue, where she sells handcrafted earrings through Instagram, in July. The UCLA alumna said she often designs her earrings based on client requests, sometimes adding the requested designs to the brand’s inventory. (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Susana Alcantar

Sept. 19, 2018 2:06 a.m.

Hannah Rexinger took great interest in the homemade necklaces she saw while shopping at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.

The very next day, the UCLA alumna set out to create her own brand of handmade jewelry – earrings made from clay. Rexinger’s business account, coined @linden.ave on Instagram, became active in August and is named after a street in Carpinteria, California that she enjoys visiting with her boyfriend. Using Instagram for its wide reach, Rexinger takes a customized approach and remains highly involved with her customers, ensuring each of them receives a pair of earrings that is different from the next, she said.

“I think the thing people love the most about (my earrings) is that I am more open to their suggestions for custom colors or custom designs,” Rexinger said. “They can pick exactly what they want and what they want it to look like.”

Linden Avenue’s Instagram feed, arranged by color, features a variety of ear pieces on models or against geometric shapes. To make them, Rexinger first rolls out polymer clay, then cuts it into shapes. She then bakes the clay, and as it cools, inserts the metal rings and glues on the stud. Some earrings are made from colors she purchased, but Rexinger also mixes ready-made clays to attain shades including turquoise, cream and gray. Each blend turns out differently, with results such as intended greens sometimes appearing more blue since they are mixed by hand.

“It’ll usually be on accident that I make certain colors and shapes,” Rexinger said. “I’ll be trying to get to something else and I’ll stop in the middle and I’ll be like, ‘Oh this looks great right here.’”

Alexandra Adolph, one of Rexinger’s customers and a close friend, said she bought a pair of black-and-white marbled earrings after viewing Rexinger’s Instagram story that detailed the process of creating earrings. Since Adolph was the first person to purchase that pair, Rexinger named the model “Alexandra,” Adolph said.

“I think what makes her earrings so interesting and sets them apart from others is the shapes they come in, the unique colors, the retro aesthetic and the handmade look they all have,” Adolph said. “I always love to support friends’ businesses but even if she wasn’t one of my friends I would still buy a pair of her earrings.”

Earrings are often based on client requests, Rexinger said. She occasionally adds requested designs to her brand’s inventory, sometimes naming the design after the customer who requested it. One such design Rexinger posted was a pair of rust-colored dangly earrings in which she layered three varied sizes of burnt orange hexagons on top of each other.

“It’s stuff that I would never think of and it fits their personality and style so well,” Rexinger said. “It’s what they want and that’s what it should be because they are buying it.”

One of Rexinger’s customers, her friend Ciera Nickel, requested circular two-tone turquoise and light blue earrings. Nickel said it was her first time purchasing custom earrings; she drew an image of what she had in mind on her Notes app, then sent it to Rexinger. Since Nickel couldn’t decide what color she wanted, Rexinger sent her designs in multiple color options for her to choose from. Nickel, who lives in New York, said ordering through the direct message feature on Instagram makes for a comfortable experience by which the customer can be as specific as they wish, resulting in something truly unique.

“It’s direct (communication) with the creator, so you know you’re getting exactly what you want,” Nickel said. “They’re so original. I know that nobody I see out here in New York will have these. They’re Linden Ave’s.”

The customizable aspects of Linden Avenue earrings extend to more than just the earrings themselves. When shipping out the orders, Rexinger said she aims to individualize each package with different colors of tape and cursive lettering based on customer personality. She decorated one box with orange polka dots mismatched with other bright patterns to reflect a client’s bubbly personality, she said, and decorated another to capture the simplicity of a different customer’s style.

Each package also comes with a handmade card stating that the piece was specialized for the specific client. The card includes a message from Rexinger which says she hopes that the customer enjoys their jewelry. When customers post photos of the finished product or reach out to thank her via Instagram, Rexinger said it motivates her to continue to craft new designs.

“I wasn’t actually expecting more than five people to buy them,” Rexinger said. “If I could make them for free and sell them for free I would because it makes me so happy seeing other people happy.”

Rexinger said she plans to expand the business by selling different types of jewelry while continuing her job as a photographer for FabFitFun. Business can be tough because it’s hard to find repeat customers, Rexinger said, but she wants to introduce pins and necklaces to diversify her selection and keep people interested. She said she also plans on selling her merchandise offline at farmers markets and swap meets in order to reach customers beyond Instagram and ensure her brand’s longevity.

“It’s fun for me to figure out new ways of doing stuff,” Rexinger said. “I definitely hope that I can keep doing it for a long time.”

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Susana Alcantar
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