Santa Fean Melissa Christopher makes gear glitter.
BY IRIS McLISTER PHOTOS BY GABRIELLA MARKS
Santa Fe New Mexican
creates chic ski goggles. The sparkle and light captured in rhinestones and glitter has always brought me joy,” says Santa Fe native Melissa Christopher. This appreciation for all things twinkly led Christopher, an avid snowboarder, to launch a line of handcrafted, Swarovski crystal–encrusted ski goggles called BlingBunny in 2017. BlingBunny’s dazzling eyewear isn’t exactly for the sartorially shy, but those looking to highlight their inner sparkle love how Christopher’s application of rainbow-hued crystals transforms basic eye protection into unapologetically flashy fashion statements. As a child, Christopher was drawn to the stage and made costumes for dance and theater performances from scratch. She was keen on amplifying these wearable creations with all manner of sparkly embellishments. Christopher remembers her first BlingBunny creation, inspired by a turn as The Nutcracker ballet’s Snow Queen. “I wanted my character’s shoes to be covered in crystals,” she says, “like Dorothy’s ruby slippers but for a winter setting.” She encrusted her shoes with iridescent rhinestones, glitter, and sequins and was thrilled with the results. “The shoes absolutely made the outfit, and they also helped me find new ways to bring more sparkle into the world,” Christopher says. Years later, a friend working at Ski Santa Fe gifted the young creative with a few pairs of ski goggles, and inspiration struck Christopher on the chairlift. “I’ve always loved how the snow glitters on a cloudless day,” she recalls. “And as I looked at the snow, I remember thinking how everybody around me looked the same, wearing mostly black. I felt bored by it.” Christopher created her first pair of BlingBunny goggles later that day. When she wore them on the slopes the next morning, a stranger bought them from her on the spot. Another sale followed, and another. Soon Christopher turned her hobby into a full-fledged business, shaped by a continuously refined process she calls intuitive and meditative. Christopher uses tiny Swarovski crystals for maximum sparkle, meticulously placing them into precise rows that surround the goggles’ lenses; finished pairs contain hundreds of the twinkling stones. Through BlingBunny’s Etsy shop and Instagram (@blingbunny44), Christopher offers customers four styles to choose from: Iridescent Ruby, Sapphire Blue, the multi-hued Candy Crystals, and her most popular pair, the Esperanza Diamond. The Esperanza’s crystal-clear gems shift into kaleidoscopic colors in the sunlight, a dazzling phenomenon that Christopher attributes to the style’s “unicorn-rainbow color palette.” BlingBunny’s customers span a range of winter sport–loving demographics, from casual to more serious snow bunnies, as well as festivalgoers wanting to jazz up their outfits. “The women and men who buy my goggles want to add something special to their look,” says Christopher. “People don’t always give themselves permission to shine, so I want to bring out that light and make them feel like diamonds on the slopes, or wherever their adventures take them.”