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This DC Duo Is Turning Trash From Vigilante Coffee Into Cool Jewelry

The mother-daughter team is using locally-sourced plastic to make earrings, clutches, and more.

All photographs courtesy of Giulia Letzi.

The mother-daughter duo behind Washington jewelry and accessories brand Giulia Letzi wants to make recycling more fashionable.

The brand’s latest line, Meta, debuted in April, and uses plastic and aluminum from Vigilante Coffee to make necklaces, earrings, cuffs, and pins.

Meta is an offshoot of the duo’s original eco-conscious line, Metamorphosis, although this is the first one to partner with local sources for materials.

“We named [the first] Metamorphosis to indicate the transformation we’re giving to these materials,” says Jasmin Picariello, who makes the jewelry with her mother, Giulia Lezzi. Meta is a continuation of this sentiment. “[It] encapsulates our mission to provide a second life,” says Picariello, “and also a second destination, instead of our landfills and waters.”

A Giulia Letzi cuff.

Working with Vigilante was an easy choice, says Picariello. The Hyattsville resident frequents the coffee shop, and it doesn’t hurt that parts of its mission aligned with hers.

“It was important to work with companies who were already trying to make a change,” she says, citing the group’s commitment to recycling and decreasing plastic waste. “[The partnership] falls in line really well with their goals and our goals for the project.”

About once a week, Picariello swings by Vigilante to pick up used milk jugs, which the duo uses in their jewelry. She plans to eventually start using plastic packaging from shipments in Meta’s clutches and handbags.

The mother-daughter team makes everything by hand at home, and, depending on the intricacy and materials, a piece can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two days to put together. Prices range from $20 to $100.

Giulia Lezzi and Jasmin Picariello.

Picariello has always been interested in repurposing old materials in new ways, she says, an interest she attributes to her Italian roots (she lived in Italy until she was 16, and her parents split time between there and the States). But she became specifically interested in sustainable fashion when she began learning more about environmental footprints.

“I started to realize how much waste each of us produces and how much the world of recycling has changed, but our habits haven’t,” she says, pointing to the recyclable items that often end up in landfills. “So we wanted to intervene in the process of a plastic bottle early on.”

And the team has plenty of plans to keep growing. The duo is experimenting with turning plastic into filaments to be used in 3D printers, which they’d then turn into home goods like flower pots, coat hooks, or dishes. While you can purchase all their pieces online right now, they hope to expand to more Washington-area boutiques soon, and they’re also searching for more local partners to donate materials.

“We’re starting small,” says Picariello, “but [we’re] doing something to make an impact.

Giulia Letzi

This post has been updated to reflect that Giulia Letzi is not partnering with the NoMa Trader Joe’s as of now. The original post stated their partnership as current. 

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Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She previously was the editorial assistant at Walter Magazine in Raleigh, North Carolina, and her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Adams Morgan.