Aydee by the Sea sells affordable beach-chic jewelry

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Melanie Schumilas

Aydee by the Sea owner Adrienne "Aydee" Hughes officially started her beach-chic jewelry line in October 2014.

Adrienne Hughes never aspired to be a jewelry artist. However, since October 2014, Hughes has run her own beach-chic jewelry company called Aydee by the Sea.

“I didn’t necessarily want to be an artist. I was more into sports when I was in middle school and high school,” Hughes, 26, said. “It wasn’t something I was really trying to do but I was just good at it.”

About four years ago, Hughes started making jewelry during her summer vacations at her mother’s home in Hilo while studying at the University of Hawaii. She said she began creating jewelry as a pastime, due to the lack of friends and fun on the Big Island.

She said she was also inspired to make her own pieces because it was cost-effective. Hughes said she went shopping at a boutique that sold beach-inspired jewelry pieces and realized she could make the same pieces herself for a fraction of the retail price.

After rave-reviews from friends and family about her handmade pieces, Hughes took the leap and created her own company in October 2014. The name Aydee by the Sea incorporates her nickname “Aydee” as well as a cute rhyme that represents the inspiration for her pieces.

“When I was coming up with a name, I really wanted it to represent me,” said Hughes, a California native who has lived in Hawaii since attending UH. “I saw a lot of people using Hawaiian-inspired names, but I’m not Hawaiian so I didn’t want to lie like that.”

Hughes’ pieces, like her business name, are also self-representations. She said she makes pieces that she would wear personally and tries to stay away from mimicking other jewelry designers.

Hughes said she recognizes there are various other jewelry designers creating the same type of beach-chic bangles, necklaces and earrings as she is. However, she is determined to create original, inspired pieces.

“I really like playing around with sunrise shells,” Hughes said. “But that’s such a widespread thing now, I like changing the chain part of it by adding beads, or I’ll wrap pearls around it. I just made a piece where I put it inside a sterling silver hoop.”

For her pieces Hughes uses a wide variety of semi-precious beads as well as various shells such as: sunrise shells, cone shells, puka shells and whatever she might find while combing the beaches of Oahu. Hughes said she finds half her shells on the island, and the other half she orders online from outer-island retailers.

Hughes signature and best-selling piece is her white starfish earrings.

“I had a customer once that told me she bought some starfish earrings and the person had put the wire through the starfish, and it broke,” Hughes said. “What I do is wrap the wire around the starfish, so that way it’s a little more secure and won’t damage the starfish itself.”

The large white starfish earrings are the signature piece of Aydee by the Sea. Photo Credit: Melanie Schumilas
The large white starfish earrings are the signature piece of Aydee by the Sea. Photo Credit: Melanie Schumilas

The unique wire attachment of the starfish isn’t the only thing notably different about this piece. The starfishes are quite large, approximately 3 inches tall and wide. At the top of the starfish earring, a semi-precious bead or pearl (varying in color and size), attaches to the hook.

Hughes said she is playing with creating new styles in hopes to create more individual pieces.

“I let the beads and shells do the work for me,” Hughes said. “I start playing around and see what happens. Sometimes I have an idea … or sometimes I just go with the flow.”

On March 12, Hughes showcased approximately 100 unique, handmade pieces at Grandeur, an event hosted by RAW at Hawaiian Brian’s. RAW promotes and showcases local artists.

“There was a lot of people buying, which was great,” Hughes said. “We had to sell tickets to the show or people had to buy at the door, so I was questionable about whether people would still buy stuff when they were there. But people were buying and were really supportive, so it was great.”

Hughes said she sold about half of her pieces, making her first solo event a success.

Looking ahead to the future of her company, Hughes isn’t sure is she wants to sell her pieces in shops, as it would force her to mark up her prices due to the store’s commission cut.

“I have always believed that I want to keep my prices affordable for everyone,” Hughes said. “If I put it in a store then I’d have to jack up the prices, so I’m not sure if that’s a good move considering what I believe in.”

As for now, Hughes will continue to promote her pieces using her Instagram account @Aydeebythesea, and sell her pieces through Etsy.

Despite her company being fairly new, Hughes said she has already shown great improvement in crafting her dainty pieces.

“I’ve definitely grown,” Hughes said. “Sometimes I look back at the pictures I took of my first items and I can definitely see where I’ve come from and the changes. I love that. I’m looking forward to learning more and hopefully getting more customers.”