Hudson River View Newspaper feature by Joe Doran
There’s something different about Xtinctio Jewelry. The eye-catching enamelized colors, the stylized animal, coral and rainforest themed designs, and even the distinctive clasps point to a gifted artistic vision. It’s something that company founder and Hudson resident Antonia Iannucci wants people to notice, to spur conversations. Every piece and collection Antonia designs is intended to raise awareness—and money— for causes that are making a difference for endangered animals, and an endangered earth. “I worked in the fashion industry for over 25 years,” explains Antonia. “I came from Italy. And then I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology. I came up with the idea of doing this company, Xtinctio, where all of the money, hopefully a lot of profit that we will make, will go for the betterment of the earth, and most of all, to helping animals that are soon to be extinct, if nothing changes.”
At the moment there are two ways to browse and purchase what just might become some very sought after first run Xtinctio jewelry. There’s a beautifully designed website, Xtinctio.com. And for those who would like to see the amazing quality of the pieces first-hand, and meet and talk with Antonia, she is currently in Saugerties every Saturday at the Saugerties Farmers Market. Though Antonia designed for some of the biggest names in the world of fashion and clothing, including Nicole Miller, Geoffrey Beene, and Tommy Hilfiger , Antonia always felt at odds in some ways with her chosen profession. “I was always very skeptical about my work. I loved fashion. And I loved to design. But the side effect that fashion has on the environment is always something that I couldn’t really understand. It was really hard. Whilst contracted to JC Penny, I tried to make them use recycled fibers, which were more expensive. But nobody ever budged on pricing. And it was really hard for me to know that every garment I was designing was putting a toll on the earth.”
There was another big change that also spurred the designer to move in a different direction. “I became a mother. And it seemed every animal we were reading about in story books was going extinct. The elephant, the orangutan, the tiger and the rhino.” It took some time and pondering, but Antonia eventually hit on the idea designing lines of jewelry that would dramatically evoke the very creatures and endangered environments for which she wanted to solicit proactive engagement. And so Xtinctio was born. That was a year ago, and the time since has been very busy. Antonia found herself working simultaneously to develop striking jewelry designs that would be impossible not to notice, while also approaching seller’s markets without merchandise yet in hand, and also launching a website and trying to establish social media presence. “I designed the line. And I work with a third-generation goldsmith. The Etruscan enameling we use is a very, very old way of finishing of the jewelry pieces. And it makes the color of the pieces, what you can achieve, so deep and so beautiful. “And also, these are handmade. The Italian Etruscan line is handmade. We’ve used bronze, because of the silver having environmental issues. Silver is not as environmentally friendly. But customers want silver. So, what I’ll be doing is using recycled silver. So, it will not be any newly mined silver. It will be precious metal that we reuse.”
One look at a ring, necklace or bangle is enough to know that Xtinctio embodies a bold, soulful vision. Pieces look sleek and vibrant, but also hand wrought and playful—or perhaps a better word would be hopeful. Collections center around animals and causes high on Antonia’s list for deserving special attention. Profits from the Coral Collection, which prominently features an inviting tropical blue, go to help The Coral Restoration Foundation. Founded in response to the widespread loss of the dominant coral species on the Florida Reef Tract, CRF focuses reef restoration, scientific research, and education. “They improve the situation where the corals are dying,” says Antonia. “They replenish the actual corals.” The deep mysterious, multifaceted green of Xtinctio’s Rainforest Collection evokes that vital ecological habit. Xtinctio’s partner in Rainforest conservation is The The Rainforest Trust, a world leader in the protection of tropical ecosystems and wildlife.
Antonia’s jewelry designs for the company’s animal causes feature something extra— striking representations of each featured animal, along with signature evocative hues. “Each color goes back to each animal. So, the Orangutan line is orange for example. The elephant, the tiger, the rhino, are each different. And so, we chose these, because of how important these cornerstone species are. And the commonality is preservation efforts all deal with babies. We want the earth to be better for our babies. So, for example, with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, they take the baby elephants, and Orangutan Outreach rescues and rehabilitates orphaned orangutans which are also eventually released back into the wild. “The distinct ideas came from wanting to make these pieces very organic, with each one reminding the person who buys them to have conversations with other people. We all want to make a change, give back the earth, and save these animals.
Buying an Xtinctio piece is one of the easiest ways to fulfill these desires. And the brightness of the colors is actually a brightness of our goals. It’s happiness. I didn’t want to make it dark, though that’s what the situation is at the moment. These pieces are almost saying there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, where we can do better, and we will do better.” Speaking with Antonia, it’s clear that her new life’s work aims to be much more than just the average entrepreneurial startup. But she understands her business must tackle many of the same challenges any small startup faces. A weekly Saturday Farmers Market at 115 Main Street in Saugerties has been a great place to show and sell the designs of the new company. She says Xtinctio will be launching a marketing campaign to draw traffic to their beautifully designed website, Xtinctio.com, and to build social media notice and presence. And the regional groundwork will continue, with more expose at different holiday markets beginning this autumn. As far as establishing relationships with jewelry and big chain retailers? “The response I’m getting from the people at the market in Saugerties is fantastic. Everyone is very supportive. I haven’t really shown the line to any of the major companies or brick and mortar stores like Barneys and Bloomingdales. I didn’t want to go that route, because I wanted to make it more organic. I worked with kind of people. I know exactly what they do, and how they will tell you what they want. And I just would like to go at it more organically and focus on one piece at a time. I’m very serious about making this company successful, so that we can give to the environment, and to these causes of animal preservation.”
You can catch Antonia in person this season every Saturday at the Saugerties Farmers Market, 115 Main St, Saugerties, NY and learn more about Xtinctio’s mission and message here:
* Reprinted from the September Issue of The Hudson River View Newspaper