Kristy Oneto sits in an Old Soul Co. coffeehouse reminiscing over her past Hawaiian lovers and showing off one of her beautiful, studded, punk bracelets that would make any wrist stand out in a crowd.
“Thirty bucks,” she offers. “You want it?”
It’s one of the many creations in Oneto’s Rinascimento line of jewelry, which she started on Etsy last year. Oneto’s bracelets brandish a variety of influences and materials—Asian coins, swaths of fur, thick leather cuffs, metal bolts and ornate buckles. Rinascimento boasts new designs every month, made largely of recycled materials. Business is growing, and she currently sells her work at the Denim Spot (1050 20th Street, Suite 170) in Midtown’s MARRS building and at events in the Sacramento area. To peruse her one-of-a-kind creations, visit www.etsy.com/shop/kristyoneto.
Do you ever get bored making jewelry?
I get really into it. The only thing that makes me tired is overstimulation of ideas. And sometimes I have idea blocks, just like writers. I’ll go through my book that I have glued in images of the bracelets I have done and remind myself of what I’ve done to stimulate new ideas. Oh! And I’ll watch a movie, a Renaissance movie or Mad Max to get inspired.
Do I get tired of making jewelry though? No—because of the potential to have someone come along and see something really cool I made, like a big designer. I keep hoping and believing in that.
Tell me a little bit about your business.
The business I started is called Rinascimento, which means “Renaissance” or “rebirth” in Italian. It’s a sustainable jewelry line that’s made out of at least 70 to 75 percent recycled materials. It’s mainly leather: leather belts, old purses that I’ve taken apart, pieces that were donated to me or going to be thrown away. I’m basically giving life to old products, right? So “rebirth.” Rinascimento.
Is using recycled materials especially important to you?
Yeah! Exactly. Otherwise, you have all these materials at a thrift store that are just sitting there or in people’s closets that aren’t getting real use for anything. I thought that I could essentially come up with a jewelry line that was more appealing to me, and make it one of a kind. Not one piece is exactly alike. You can go out and wear one of my pieces and your friend can wear one of my pieces, but they won’t be exactly the same.
Every piece is unique.
That’s the whole gimmick. With the eco-friendly trend going on, you can at least have something that’s funky and fun. It doesn’t have to be super hippie-dippie.
You’re also an artist. How do you tie your business and your art together?
I bought some leather-working tools, but they sat in the corner. A year later, I quit my job. Painting only gets you so far, and oil takes a really long time to dry. So I decided to utilize the time to start this line, and it actually jumped off pretty quickly. I started July 15, [on] Etsy and within a month, I began featuring my bracelets at the Denim Spot. I’ve sold 170 pieces since then. It’s OK. It’s not completely paying the bills yet, but now it’s given me a bit more freedom to organize my time to say, “How am I going to make this pay the bills?” [and] “When do I have time to paint?” That’s where it really came from. It started off as a fun idea, and I didn’t used to have time to come home and do art.
How do you approach marketing?
Marketing is difficult. I do a lot of word of mouth. My graphic designer designed the Doughbot [Donuts] card, so my own business cards are really catchy. They open up like a book. Also making your friends like your Facebook business page is helpful.
What do you want people to know about Rinascimento?
I want people to have a line where the jewelry suits their creative side, no matter where they came from or what their class level. If they want to wear one of my pieces to work at the Capitol, they can. If they want to wear one out to the Mix [Downtown], they can. If they want to wear it to a punk-rock show, they can. People will tell you what they want. Just give them what they want!
Do you think you’ll branch out past bracelets?
I’d like to do a line of shoes. Something to blow Toms [Shoes] out of the water.