Frequently-asked questions

Wait, earrings made from aluminum cans? Why?

Three sources of inspiration came together to form the idea for Not Nice upcycled earrings:

- Discovering artisans who make earrings from vintage tins

- A visit to Mexico where we saw an artisan who made wallets from gum packaging

- The beautiful artwork we were seeing in craft beer cans around our home city of Austin, Texas

We realized that if we could find a way to make durable, functional earrings from the metal from aluminum cans, we could achieve the same patterned results as tin and steel earrings but create something that was highly sustainable, was reproducible but would still have some occasional rarity (cans may be seasonal or only brewed or can one time, and breweries regularly discontinue beers), would celebrate and preserve the artwork on these cans while transforming their graphics into striking jewelry, and could be offered at an affordable price to compete with inexpensive fast fashion earrings, which have a high environmental and social cost. Over years of experimentation, we developed novel methods and techniques that led to the earring styles and features we offer today.

How do you make your earrings?

After breaking down cans, we spend a while working out the best designs to feature and reframe elements from the can artwork. Once we’ve decided on styles, we use a variety of cutting and shaping methods to create the new designs in a repeated form. We then add a sustainable cork backing layer with an adhesive, and hand cut it to match the shape of each earring. We punch all holes in each earring, add our 14k white or yellow gold-plated French hooks, and apply a finish coat to the entire earring to seal the cork, create a film layer connecting the edges of the cork and metal, and create a polished, scratch-resistant, and UV-protective coating for the artwork.

For styles that use cans we believe we can continuously acquire, we test these earring styles at in-person events, and if they are popular, we add them to our website for production on demand. For cans we know we will only have limited or one-time access to, we either sell these exclusively at our live events, or prepare a set to drop on our website, which we open up first to our newsletter subscribers and then to the general public.

What else are you working on?

In addition to constantly experimenting with new artwork and shapes, we’re always exploring new materials and methods that can provide more options for our customers and/or make our earrings even more sustainable. Over the next few months, shoppers can expect to see new backing materials, more complex shapes and designs, more regular limited edition drops, and earrings that incorporate other upcycled materials.

We also run a sister brand, Nice Package, where we explore ways to use upcycled and remnant fabrics. We often test these products at Not Nice live events, and sell both Not Nice and Nice Package products at a small boutique in Austin.

As a company, we’re also working on ways to increase our can supply - while we do enjoy drinking craft beer and regularly get cans from friends and customers, the sales of some styles are outpacing our collective ability to get those cans in stock. To address this, we’re excited to have begun donating craft beer and other canned beverages to nonprofit and creative industry events locally, and are working to expand this into a regular outreach program.

Do you accept returns or offer refunds?

For health reasons, we can’t accept returns that are not in person and immediately after purchase, before the earrings have been worn. If earrings arrive damaged or do not meet customer expectations (it hasn’t happened yet!) we will work with the customer to replace the items in their order.

How long does it take you to ship orders?

We typically ship out orders once or twice a week, depending on our live event and production schedule. This is why we only offer some of our designs on our website, so that we know we will have the materials ready or the earrings already partially produced. If we need longer, we contact customers to ensure the turnaround time is acceptable, and offer a refund if there’s a problem.

Infrequently-asked questions

If you could have five people, living or dead, attend a dinner party with you, who would you invite?

Jennifer: Willie Nelson, Betsy Johnson, Vivienne Westwood, Dolly Parton, and Andy Warhol. All heroes of mine!

Jeremiah: Flannery O’Connor, John Darnielle, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Richard Feynman, and Marshall McLuhan. A bunch of great conversationalists who would turn over a lot of rocks in a couple of hours.