Los Angeles-based eco jewelry brand Zeffiria handcrafts all of its pieces using natural cow and buffalo horn from Africa, making for a collection of sustainable, one-of-a-kind pieces. Bangles and necklaces are then finished with Swarovski crystals and semi-precious and precious stones. We spoke with designer Vittoria Faccin, who was inspired by the strength of impoverished women in India to launch Zeffiria, to find out more about this growing label — because who doesn't want a Swarovski crystal topped goat horn bangle?
theFashionSpot: Can you tell us about your background?
Vittoria Faccin: I was born into a family devoted to fashion. My mom was a pattern maker and my older sister is a designer. Since I was very young I was around fabrics, buttons and zippers. I spent hours listening to my mom and sister working on specific styles. I was ten years old when I started to imitate my sister. She used to spend entire afternoons drawing sketches for the Art and Fashion School. She used to correct me and give me suggestions on how to improve my drawings and styles. Later, however, I decided to take another course of study and pursued a degree in business. Immediately after I got my degree, I won a grant that took me to a fabric factory in the middle of England. It was a very old factory with a long tradition. I loved that experience as I had the chance to see and learn a lot about the looms, the yarns and the different fabrics. It was then that I decided to go back to my original path, so I took some design courses that eventually brought me to the Valentino Fashion Group in Italy. This was a great experience.
tFS: At what point did you start thinking about launching your own brand and can you tell us about the initial steps?
VF: It was the Summer of 2009 that was a turning point in my life. That year, I spent a few weeks visiting India. I was fascinated by this country made of opposites; with such a variety of co-existing cultures, religions and realities. Some were so poor they could hardly accept their existence. But what really caught my attention was the determination of the few women running their own small businesses to provide for their families, with very little to nothing at their disposal to work with. I was deeply impressed with their strength and determination. After 10 years in the fashion industry, I went back and decided it was time to follow my dream of creating my own collection so I started my jewelry line. It wasn’t easy in the beginning; there were people who told me I was crazy to leave a great job to start an adventure from scratch, totally on my own and with a really small budget, but seeing those women made me believe it was totally possible.
tFS: Where did your brand name come from?
VF: Zeffira is my Grandmother's name. I was very close to her, she always supported me. I liked the name and the idea to name my project after her. For trademark reasons, I then had to change it into “ZEFFIRIA".
tFS: Was it always important that there be a handmade and eco dimension to your brand?
VF: Yes, it was. I believe that a product can be glamorous and chic even if made with recycled materials; it just depends on how you transform them. I think that the most tricky part is to transform them using eco-friendly systems. I always wanted a sustainable product; a unique piece that a woman could wear over the years on different occasions. I have always been passionate about everything that’s natural and horn. To me it seems it’s the way to go for uniqueness and beauty.
tFS: Where do you get your design inspiration?
VF: The first is from nature. I love to go hiking and look at leaves, bushes and insects. I see something different every time. I am also always influenced by interior design; I love the mix of different materials and colors. Interior design changes throughout the years, based on people's needs and the way they are feeling in a certain period; same as fashion does, always trying to be original.
tFS: Where do you source the materials you work with?
VF: We source it in Africa. We only use cow and domestic buffalo horn.
tFS: You're based in L.A., do you find that's a good place for an up-and-coming fashion brand?
VF: New York is still the heart of the fashion industry, but now there are many new designers based in L.A. and on the West Coast. These newer designers are attracting more attention from buyers so I think that in the future, this town will become a central fashion hub. Plus, I’m an outside girl and I love all the outdoor activities you can do here with sunny weather and blue skies.
tFS: Your pieces have been worn by a number of celebrities, can you tell us about some of the most exciting ones?
VF: The most exciting was Glenn Close, she needed a bangle to be worn with a beige/khaki jacket. She started to try on one bangle after another, in the end she liked them all so she stacked on as many as the jacket’s sleeve would allow and left with five of our bangles.