Vera Balyura, the owner and designer of the sinisterly chic VeraMeat, is one seriously creative babe (have you seen her Coachella outfit?). Not only has she started her own boutique that features awesome designs like vampire teeth retainers and puppy dog double rings, but she’s dabbled in modeling, film, and all types of art too. Get inspired by Vera in her interview below.
I read on your site that you moved from Ukraine and Utah to New York City to get into modeling. How did that all lead to jewelry design and Verameat?
“I got to visit over 20 countries at a young age which helped build my imagination and confidence in understanding many different types of people. I can still almost within seconds of meeting someone know what kind of imagery would appeal to them. Many strangers inspire me as they are like a soup, and some of their ingredients surprise me into making a new lucky charm specific to that person’s unique flavor. I feel so lucky to have my fan base grow so quickly. It’s unexpected and happily welcome.”
What was your first experience with jewelry design?
“I was at a guitar store and saw these amazingly intricate metal objects. I later found out they were thumb picks. I wanted to wear them but being very particular I chose to change the shape and design of that pick to my liking. A stylist saw the new necklace and asked who had made it. I told her it was a just for fun project. She told me she wanted a collection of 10-20 pieces emailed to her as soon as possible. I understand the value of advice given by an older more experienced person, so I did what she asked and took it one step further by going to school for jewelry as well!”
The vampire teeth jewelry is awesome! Where do your design inspirations come from?
“I’m going to admit something that will take me to the part of some people’s brain I’d rather not be in, but hell with it! My little sister knew I was taking a 18 hour flight to Australia & she had just finished reading the Twilight series so she handed then to me at the airport. I read them all. Thumbs up to all female writers out there! Also my mother loved watching old vampire black and white movies right before my bed time so I grew up holding my blankets right above my neck as I fell asleep just so the vampires didn’t see my neck flying by my windows at night.”
Obviously, “Vera” in Verameat is your first name. Where does the “meat” come from?
“Verameat is the meatier side of jewelry – more interesting subject matter and better materials. We sold all our necklace chains and don’t use pewter or nickel. "
How would you describe your own style?
“A carnivorous creature having been born by a bonsai tree!”
How big is the Verameat team and what do they do?
“Well at this point our mascot puppy Fred has the reins of the team & doesn’t give me much info.”
I love that you guys support artists and creative work. What are some of the ways you’re supporting artists now?
“We are excited to have a monthly drawing competition where artists submit works with Fred, Verameat jewelry, and myself!”
I noticed that you guys have a film donation set up. That sounds really interesting! Can you tell us a bit more about that?
“Yes, we are super excited about our first film project! It will be staring myself, Megan our Operations Manager, and of course our puppy mascot Fred as we travel across this vast and beautiful country of ours. You can find more info and donate here.
Have you worked with celebrities or bloggers before?
“Yes, we work with bloggers and celebrities all the time!”
What’s it like working with them?
“It’s fantastic! It’s partnerships like this that really fuel the business. Our brand has lots of momentum behind it, and we are always being contacted to be featured on a blog or in an editorial piece for a magazine, etc.”
What would be your advice to someone looking to get in to jewelry design? Where’s the best place to start?
“You know, its a tough business. But I always say that if you are original and make items that you yourself would like to wear, then you can’t go wrong. That’s my philosophy anyways!”
How do you think owning a jewelry boutique differs from a fashion boutique?
“It’s not terribly different really. But jewelry is something that people always seem to want because it makes them feel beautiful and special. Plus, jewelry can easily fit all different body types!”
What’s your favorite piece at the moment?
“My favorite piece is always changing! But we just came out with a brand new Raven’s claw ring that I am really hot on right now.”
What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of owning a boutique?
“I always love seeing the excitement and joy on people’s faces when they walk into the store and discover the line. Or even talking with a regular customer who knows all the pieces by name. It’s really an honor to have such a devoted following and new people discovering us everyday!”
Have any tips of the trade for people looking to start their own brand?
“Just to be yourself and look to what’s around you for inspiration.”
Have anything exciting planned for Verameat?
“We always have something up our sleeves! We are excited to debut our new leather kitty bags in May!”