Meet Ann Skydell Harmon, owner and creator of Ann-Made jewelry, wearable art that is handcrafted out of recycled can tabs. Each recycled can tab is scrubbed clean and polished smooth by Ann’s own devoted husband, dubbed the “Tab King,” before they are used to make earrings, bracelets and pendants. The chunky, unusual pieces are each adorned with beads and natural gem stones for a look that blends man-made and natural materials.
The idea for the collection first came to her when she was an art instructor for emotionally disturbed children. Wanting to teach her students the importance of being environmentally conscious, Harmon introduced the recycled can tabs as an art project.
“The last thing on their minds was recycling. But this was a great way to teach creative problem solving, which these kids needed,” she says.
Harmon ended up creating bracelets out of the can tabs herself and handed them out to the other teachers as gifts. It was her co-workers’ enthusiasm that made her realize she had started something special. “The teachers couldn’t get enough,” she says.
That was two years ago. Now, Harmon’s business has grown exponentially, with her jewelry being sold in stores along the east coast and even as far as Chicago. She has also launched her own website where customers can order pieces from her collection. Harmon travels to about 35 art shows a year and says she is always fascinated by people’s reactions. “I come in contact with thousands of people and it is like a religious fervor,” she says.
But her dedication to the environment is just as impressive as her success. Harmon purchases her can tabs from a nonprofit group in New Jersey that collects tabs from local area schools and sells them to aluminum recyclers. She generously buys the tabs for more than double their retail value in an effort to help this struggling non-profit in their recycling efforts.
Harmon donates a portion of every sale to The Alliance for Climate Protection and its affiliate, The Climate Project. And, to take her endeavors one step further, Harmon even packages her jewelry with clean, reused cardboard and ships her products with left-over, unprinted newspaper—a trick her father taught her, she says. “He has that Depression era mentality.” Something we can all benefit from in today’s economy!
“I wanted to be as socially and environmentally conscious as possible with the company,” says Harmon.
Her company, which is based near her home on the New Jersey shore, is a family-run affair. Her two daughters provide website maintenance, assist at art shows, and help with non-artistic production while her husband helps with packaging. As her business has continued to grow, she has also brought on three assistants to help her family handle the overwhelming demand for her jewelry.
Ann-Made was awarded the Green America Seal of Approval this past June for its green efforts. Harmon’s business underwent a lengthy screening process by Green America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting environmental sustainability. Being recognized for her commitment to social and environmental responsibility is something that Harmon is very proud of.
“All along the way this has been such a positive experience,” says Harmon.
To check out more of Harmon’s jewelry or learn more about her environmental efforts, visit Annmadeart.com.
"Fashion Is Foremost Inspiration"