From Auckland to Oamaru and from eyebrows to ears, Abby Melton isn’t afraid to take a risk and try something new. She talks to Ashley Smyth about her latest creative venture, Lover Lover.
Abby Melton “loves love”, hence the name of her new jewellery range.
“Just the way it makes you feel. You see something that you love and it gives you that excited, playful kind of feeling. You know yourself when you wear something that you love, it makes you feel fabulous. I portray that into my designs. So yeah, Lover Lover,” she said.
“All through my branding with Flossie, it’s all been hearts and things as well. It’s just continuing on from there.”
Formerly the force behind Flossie Brows and Beauty, Mrs Melton knows how to run a successful business. She was booked up a year in advance for her specialised eyebrow microblading service, but realised, when she found out she was pregnant with her son Marlo, that something had to give.
“I needed to have an adjustment in my career, I guess.
“I wanted to be able to be there for him when he needed me. If he was sick or I was sick, there was no room for movement.
“I wanted to still be creative, or even more creative than what I was doing, so yeah. We began to explore what I could do with using our machines here.”
“Here” being AcuCut, a precision cutting company based at North Oamaru Business Park, that Mrs Melton’s engineer husband Matt began four and a-half years ago. The company uses water-jet and laser machines for cutting through most materials, and she uses the laser cutting machine in the manufacture of her bold and original cast-acrylic earrings.
“We had a trip to Australia for a friend’s wedding, and the handcrafted jewellery industry over there is huge.
“So we explored lots of different materials while we were there. At the moment there’s not much of this material available in New Zealand. So we had to source everything and import it all ourselves.”
Mrs Melton moved here from Auckland seven years ago to be with her now husband, who is “a local boy”, after they met working on superyachts. He had been amazing in helping her fledgling business get off the ground.
“I have more of a visual eye. And he has the more engineering side of things. So my design and his engineering work really well together, helping to create and problem-solve.”
She draws all her designs by hand, then makes a digital version which “tells” the machine how to cut it.
“So you can get super technical or have, you know, basic designs. And the acrylic colours and patterns speak for themselves, I guess, and make it all work together.”
And although the acrylics are imported from Australia, she would eventually like to design her own.
“So then everything is completely original.”
The metalware, where the earring goes through the ear, is surgical steel and the findings – the little bits that hold everything together – are 14carat gold-filled.
“This has been a three-year project from idea to actually executing the whole thing. It’s been a lot of research, trialling, lots of product sampling to get the quality that we wanted, which is a high-quality product.”
Meeting Trelise Cooper when she came to Oamaru recently was a highlight for Mrs Melton, who is a huge fan of the fashion designer and her ethos.
“I take heaps of my inspiration from her fabrics and just her whole mantra, I guess, of making a woman feel beautiful.
“The whole kind of philosophy of Lover Lover is to endeavour to enlighten your playful side with bright, bold colours. They should make you feel glamorous and beautiful in what you’re wearing.
“Iris Apfel [American fashion icon] is another one of my huge inspirations. What I take from her is that fashion has no age limits or rules … She’s incredible for layering jewellery and colours. She’s super cool.”
A self-described visual person, she gets a lot of ideas from the world around her.
“I draw my inspiration from everything I see in architecture, nature, patterns, fabric, art, shapes. Lots of things that inspire me.”
Design has been in her blood from a young age. Her mother is a talented seamstress for Classic Fashions. She made sample garments, including Air New Zealand uniforms, and then went on to make wedding gowns. Mrs Melton and her mother would choose patterns and fabrics together from as young as she can remember.
As she got older, she would buy clothes but alter them, or design something for which her mother would make a pattern then sew it for her.
“So it’s something I have always longed to do … design my own range.”
She is officially launching her jewellery tonight with a function at Design Federation, along with fellow Oamaru-based jewellery designer Nora Ngau Chun, who is showcasing her business, Bangle Baby.
Ms Ngau Chun also hails from Auckland and the pair have bonded over their mutual interests.
“We just kind of hit it off. You know, both ex-Auckland girls, kind of on the same path, I guess. We thought they worked quite well together.
“We’re both colourful and yeah .. We both wanted to launch and show Oamaru what we’ve been busy with, I guess. So it’s perfect.”
The Lover Lover range is being stocked locally at Design Federation and Mrs Hyde, and also online, with the goal of being stocked throughout New Zealand.
“I would like to branch out into necklaces, brooches – brooches are a thing making a big comeback, so that’s something that I’d like to explore – headpieces, rings . . . the options are endless, really.”