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Hot 20 2009: Mackenzie Burdick and Rachael Mann, Founders of Litter

Photography by Anön.

Call Rachael Mann and Mackenzie Burdick’s designs “trashy” and they’ll likely take it as a compliment. After all, the sisters behind the new San Francisco jewelry line Litter go to great lengths to unearth the heaps of vintage, recycled and discarded metal bits and chains that they use to handcraft their funky accessories. “We started out making weird things just for ourselves like headpieces made from nuts and bolts and other junkyard finds,” recalls Burdick, who lives in Cow Hollow, right by the Litter office. When friends took notice, they decided to do a local jewelry show where their headpieces sold out, inspiring them to sell their work on Etsy and eventually launch their own e-tail site.

In less than a year, Litter has been picked up by stores in New York and Los Angeles and featured in Elle and Harper’s Bazaar Asia, modeled on actress Lucy Liu.

Recently, an editor at Vogue, who’d first spotted their leg chains worn by a girl walking down the street in Paris, asked the Santa Cruz natives to accessorize designer Christian Cota’s off-venue runway show for New York Fashion Week.

Are the sisters digging their newfound fame? “We were in a bar in New York, and someone actually came up to us and asked, ‘Are you Litter?’ We were like, ‘Yes!’” says Mann. “It was our big celebrity moment!”

Stylist: Rachel Lena Esterline. Styling assistance: Sonie Hack. Hair + Makeup: Pircilla Pae and Alexia Ogle for Shu Uemura on Fillmore. On Mackenzie: Alexander Wang gold-and-black sequin dress ($1,800) and leather zip boot ($690) at Barneys New York, 415-268-3500. Litter shoe and leg jewelry, model’s own. On Rachel: Maison Martin Margiela leather-and-suede vest ($3,595) and Christian Louboutin black suede heels ($1,095) at Barneys New York. Litter leg jewelry, model’s own.

Check out the other 2009 Hot 20.