• Featured Brands: VERAMEAT

    With her sculptural, handcrafted jewelry line VERAMEAT, New York designer Vera Balyura is setting out to make modern heirlooms. We caught up with her around the studio to learn more the stories, family history and myriad influences that inspire her line.  
    Photos by Frankie Marin

    Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get first get started in jewelry design? 
    I’m originally from Europe and moved to New York with my family when I was 8. At the time I thought New York was another planet...I loved everything about it. After a year my family moved to Utah where I befriended a paso fino horse named Roho who I rode each day after school. When I was 14 I moved back to New York to model and have been here ever since, though while traveling is still when I feel most at home. In Paris, I looked at an Auguste Rodin sculpture and thought, “Man, I’d love that on my finger in a teeny size.” So I whipped out my wood carving skills my grandfather gave me and applied them to wax carving for jewelry. It worked pretty well so I started the VERAMEAT brand.
    What's your design process like?
    As I’m a self-trained artist, my process is all over the place. Sometimes it’s sculpture, sketching, or even computer 3D modeling, just depends on what I think will be best for that particular design.

    What’s a typical day in the life like for you?
    I am super lucky to have chill co-workers who help me keep everything level. Some days, I work with Anja Slibar, my art director, in the studio. Other days, especially Friday, I go to one of my stores, either the one in the East Village or the one in Williamsburg. I love hearing my customers' feedback then walking around NY for inspiration.

    Your brand has grown a ton over the last few years – what’s been one of the highlights of your career?
    Getting so many Instagram fans has been fun! I’m also working with Jack White right now on a necklace for his new album coming out this month, which is super exciting (as was the day Tim Burton's special effects people took me out for ice cream in Malibu). VERAMEAT gives me an excuse to talk to people I respect. But mostly I’m thankful for the people who buy my jewelry, as they inspire me to try new things...Next season I'm coming out with unique stone jewelry too...so stay tuned by signing up for our newsletter!

    What’s been a challenge that you had to overcome?
    When I started VERAMEAT I vowed to keep the quality of my jewelry high by soldering all the chains and using brass that is a gold color all the way through. It costs more but my customers love it and come back. They tell their friends so it’s worth the cost. Quality is a big thing for me as well as customer service. Even though VERAMEAT  is a small brand we care a lot about our customers. I try to make all my pieces good luck charms that people can hand down to their family years from now.
    Any advice for other young business owners out there looking to grow their brand?
    Just do what you love and don’t make stuff you think will sell; make what you yourself want to own. Also, get a website and ask your friends for favors. 

    How would you describe your personal style?
    TV show lawyer Matlock meets the Addams Family meets an autistic gold miner.
    Is there one outfit right now that you find yourself wearing more than any other?
    I slept in the dress I wore for this shoot because it’s the first embroidery dress I’ve made and I love it so much. I also made a Bill Murray shirt because I would marry him or the whole cast of Seinfeld so I made a shirt for them too. 

    What about favorite spots in NYC? Any places off the beaten path that you’ve been into lately?
     I’m obsessed with NY in general. Film Forum is a great theater, Saint's Alp Teahouse (aka bubble tea heaven), Neue Galerie with its Austrian art and coffee milkshakes, Caravan Of Dreams is a must, Alabaster Bookshop and of course my two VeraMeat boutiques.