Creative Resin Jewelry Made of Cigarette Butts
Cigarette butts are commonly seen on the streets of New York, or even, the streets of anywhere in the world. Usually, no one would pay attention to those littered butts. However, they caught the eye of artist and designer Emma Wang, therefore given a second life.
Emma Wang was born in Beijing, China. She graduated from Parsons School of Design in 2019, to pursuit a career in fashion design. Emma started to work internships since sophomore year, her first internship was at Zac Posen, as a full-time design/production intern for three months. Later on, she accumulated a total of two years of internships at Derek Lam, SNOW XUE GAO and Ulla Johnson. Having seen almost every aspect in the fashion industry, Emma decided to go ahead and start her own brand.
Emma Wang wearing her own design. All images provided by Emma Wang
No Smoking is a fortuitous project. When Emma decided to cast her boyfriend’s wisdom tooth into resin to make a creative piece of jewelry, there was some resin left from the process. Unwilling to waste the remaining resin, Emma looked for something interesting to cast. A few cigarette butts in the ashtray caught her eye, this was the very beginning of her development of No Smoking. After creating her first batch, Emma decided to search for materials on the streets. “I want to give these wastes a second life,” says Emma, “and let people think twice before littering cigarette butts. I use these up-cycled materials and seal them in non-toxic resin to create main pieces for my jewelry.” To make each of her designs exclusive as they can be, Emma sources loose beads, charms, vintage jewelry or even watches from flea markets or vintage stores in NYC and London for deconstruction to be used as embellishments for her designs.
Customers can place custom orders if they want something special. Emma recalls a customized Cuban chain necklace one of her customers ordered. “It would be a gift for his beloved girlfriend whose birthday would come in two weeks, he told me his girlfriend smokes Camel Filter and asked for this specific type of cigarette for the main piece. I think it’s thoughtful and sweet.” Up till now, No Smoking has been sold to customers all around the world.
Some custom orders. All images provided by Emma Wang.
Emma said that starting her business was more difficult than she thought. With no one to help her, she made and photographed the jewelry by herself, edited the photos, created a website for products. Like many startup designers, Emma decided on Instagram to promote her products. However, Instagram denied her request several times due to the policy that tobacco products are banned from promotion. Emma approached Instagram several times explaining that her products are jewelry, since the cigarette butts are sealed inside resin, and that the collection’s intention is from a sustainable point of view. In the end, Emma’s friends saved the day by sharing the collection on their social media. The customer who placed Emma’s first order was very pleased with the jewelry, she posted it on her page. Words spread fast on the internet; Emma’s orders numbers started to increase instantly.
Emma wishes to take No Smoking to further development with new ideas she comes up with. A couple months ago, one of her friends helped her connect with Su Mang, editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar China. With this opportunity, No Smoking was able to be promoted in China. Emma has established collaborations with some well-known rappers such as PSY.P and Melo from High Brothers (88rising), VAVA, Tizzy T and Man Shuke. Emma hopes to develop other product categories with the same concept as No Smoking such as handbags, eyewear and home décor. Although No Smoking is a relatively young brand, Emma is planning to register the brand with a product description to legally protect the collection. Although Emma isn’t sure where she is eventually going to take her brand, she is certain that she will continue to do everything she loves and try to turn it into a career.
If you would like to order your own piece of jewelry, head over to Emma’s website http://emma-wang.com/shop