Natural elements of the Pacific Northwest have found their way into Sinem Akin's latest jewelry creations.
Pieces in her Wanna Collection include a rose gold necklace with a maple leaf-shaped pendant and silver earrings that resemble falling raindrops. Allusions to the local environment, such as these, mark a relatively recent design venture for the jeweller, who moved to North Vancouver from Turkey in 2010.
"It's been a great adventure for me to be in British Columbia for the last five years," says the busy soccer and sailing mom to three children under the age of 10.
Prior to her big move, Akin ran her own jewelry shop in the coastal city of Bodrum, Turkey, from 2006 to 2010. Her design partner, Inci Denizel, still lives in Turkey and, despite the geographic distance between them, the two women still collaborate as closely as ever.
"We continue to work together because we have been together so many years and we have our own workshop and we do everything ourselves and we're just so proud of that," Akin says.
They source their raw materials from Europe rather than North America, to keep costs down.
"I work with leather and semiprecious stones and I work with Swarovski crystals and I use a lot of metal," Akin says, explaining she plates brass with silver, gold or rose gold. "Rose gold has been really popular for the last couple of years," she adds.
The Wanna Collections features necklaces, bracelets and earrings distinguished by bold shapes and elegant lines. "It's very classy, it's very edgy, it's very different."
Every summer, Akin travels to Turkey where she and Denizel exchange their design ideas. The jewelry is constructed in their workshop in Turkey and also in Akin's home studio in North Vancouver.
Though still new to Canada, the Wanna Collection has been popular in Europe for years, she notes.
"But of course, we are just entering the market in North America. .. we are still in the process of getting our name out there."
Last December, Akin launched an online store (wannacollection.com) and she's been participating in local fashion shows. Her business is about to get some serious exposure later this month, though, as she's been invited to exhibit at Vancouver Fashion Week, which runs Sept. 28 to Oct. 4 on the plaza outside Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
"I'm going to be making a show - it's going to be a catwalk," she explains. "I'm going to show 20 looks and then I'm going to have an exhibitor table for three days so people can shop and touch and feel and see the collection."
Denizel won't be able to make it to Vancouver Fashion Week because she will be attending a fashion trade show in Paris around the same time, continuing to market the collection in Europe.
Akin is still adjusting to the laid-back fashion sense of the West Coast where rubber boots tend to trump stilettos. But she's found herself inspired by the local flora and fauna, as well as other designers.
"I am just in love with all of the jewelry designers in Vancouver and I'm always looking at their websites and I get inspiration from all of them," she says.
Since expanding her business into Canada, she's lent some of her edgier pieces to high-end fashion photo shoots and has received interest from personal shoppers on behalf of their clients.
"That is really nice and promising," she says, expecting her stuff to be in Lower Mainland retail stores soon.
"I'm so passionate about my work. I love it. I'm in love with design and fashion."