If you ever considered turning your hobby into a business, follow the lead of two Argentine designers. Rocío Gonzáles and Lucas Campodonico listened to their hearts and turned a jewelry making pastime into a sustainable business, and it all started with buttons.
The two designers met right around the time they both were working on their respective jewelry collections—Rocío made bracelets from resin; Lucas strung buttons to make necklaces and other whimsical items. One day, Lucas invited her to the button factory where he worked and as a kid in a candy store she was "… fascinated by the possibilities of developing accessories [using] the machinery and [work the people] from the factory. As we worked there, and we saw the materials they discarded daily. Then it was a matter of common sense, the possibility to reuse these incredible materials. Their trash became our treasure; those faulty buttons became our prime matter and inspiration. We seized the opportunity and started working from these materials and began communicating our way of working," she said.
From dream hobby to real business, González and Campodonico launched Greca in 2009 as a full-time enterprise that makes colorful jewelry, ornaments, and houseware items. The method behind the designers' madness starts by collecting faulty buttons. Working with three factories that provide them with discarded fasteners. "From there we classify the different buttons and scraps. Some go to the coloring section, where we give them the colors we define for collections. Others are broken down to pieces for the molten button products others, the more special ones, are classified to be uses in accessories."
The discarded buttons inspire the design of the products. They are used according to color in the various animal designs in Greca's fauna line, or organic shapes that define most of their deco lines.
"Once we have our designs ready, the discards are brought together in our workshop as a different object. We create molds that hold these buttons together with a small percentage of resin to make them a new whole. They become a new colorful object to be used, to inspire others. In the accessories, the classified buttons and the resin parts come together at the cooperatives. We give them the original designs and show them how o ensemble them and cooperatives produce the final necklaces," explained Gonzalez.
Greca currently works with two cooperatives—YoNoFui and RedActivos. YoNoFui employs women inside and just released from jail. The women learn various skills such as sewing, screen printing and carpentry that enables them to find employment. "We work with the sewing workshop in the making of various of our necklaces and keyrings."
RedActivos is a network of cooperatives of people with disabilities. Within the networks, jobs are distributed from their partner companies. "We train the cooperatives we work with and help them become better suppliers with each product we develop. They learn how to produce the accessories gradually, and we both learn from this process."
Greca will be in Manhattan at the Jacob Javits Center, exhibiting their new accessories collection and the deco collection at Artisan Resource @NY NOW from August 16-19.
Greca's products are available at SFMOMA Museum in San Francisco and Sustainable New York or online at grecaweb.com
To learn more about Greca, please visit grecaweb.com.