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Described as elegantly trashy and very DIY by their creator, Underground Sundae's pieces are attracting plenty of attention. Ellie Constantine talked to designer Anne-Mieke Ytsma about inspiration and the challenges of business.
Ribs, skulls, safety pins.
Underground Sundae jewellery has a somewhat morbid feel, the opposite of its bright and smiling designer.
Anne-Mieke Ytsma established the label last year, after graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in jewellery from Otago Polytechnic in 2006.
The label has been growing over the past five years with small exhibitions, while Ytsma has created pieces for fellow Dunedin label Company of Strangers.
Although stepping out on her own has its challenges, Miss Ytsma loves creating her unique, hand-made rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets.
She describes her clientele as mostly younger.
However, she was interested to see the range of people drawn to her collections when she worked at fashion boutique Plume part-time.
"It's quite fun and colourful and quirky," she says.
On her website she describes it as "elegantly trashy jewellery from the discarded and the unwanted traces of life".
"It is the reaction to bland mass production or the belief that value is only derived from traditional materials or popular opinion."
This DIY quality, and her penchant for collecting items from second-hand shops, is apparent in the built-up feel of many of her pieces.
Rings with skulls popping out, and necklaces coated in chains and beads are creating a following, and safety pin hearts have become signature Underground Sundae.
"I think the one-off pieces are a little bit more out there, but people are always looking for something a bit different," she says.
The label is also gaining the attention of fashion writers and photographers, with mentions in several magazines and blogs.
"My mum was so proud when I got in Woman's Day," Miss Ytsma says with a laugh.
The press is a good way for a wider audience to see her work and seeing it on glossy pages or featured on websites is "amazing".
Ytsma says she wants to keep expanding her business, "slowly and steadily", with the ambition of gaining more stockists and employing more people.
"It's getting bigger and it's a lot of physical work. It does become your life. I'm constantly thinking about it.
"I love it but when I have all these orders come in and I have to make it all, it doesn't leave me much time for the fun, playing around making."
Her advice for others considering launching their own line is to "make sure that you are committed to it" and understand "you will have to work so hard".