For out next Women in Business Wednesday we are talking to Brittanny Chanel of Brittanny Chanel Jewelry. We were a fan of her beautiful jewelry before we reached out to her for this feature and were thrilled when she agreed to collaborate with us. She graciously welcomed us into her home studio to take pictures of her in "action." Congratulations on your upcoming wedding, Brittanny!
When did you decide to turn your art into into a business?
Long before I knew “how” I would turn my art into a business I knew it was what I wanted to do. Even from a kid, I just knew it was a “thing” people did and I was going to figure out how I could do it. I studied Fashion Design + Merchandising at Radford University with a minor in Metalsmithing, and such a big portion of our merchandising studies was how to run a business in the fashion industry. Once I learned the trade of metalworking I just knew, I will use all of these things one day and create a business out of it. It was kind of a mid-college revelation I had.
When did you decide to go into business for yourself?
Timeline wise, it was August of 2014. I remember it well because I was terrified. I quit my full time bar managing position and just said “I’m doing this”. Having grown up in a home of artists, both parents paint/draw, dads a musician, and on top of that they own their own Printing business; I never really knew a home of 9-5 corporate working parents. Seeing them be their own boss and support a family of 5 was so inspiring to me. It was always, as long as I can remember, my goal and dream, to be in business for myself.
What is the greatest joy of "working for yourself"?
I think the greatest joy is simply the freedom of your own schedule. Its so liberating knowing that if I don’t get up and get to work for the day, the only one responsible is ME. If someone wants to meet for coffee, I can! If I need to take time off for whatever reason, I can! No one can tell me I can’t. It’s so great.
What is the biggest challenge?
Well, the freedom is also a challenge as much as it is a joy. You really have to hold yourself accountable and work harder, longer, and better every day. I’m very easily distracted so I do have to remind myself daily to stay focused. I try to keep to a morning routine and make my days as orderly as possible. Some days are more scatter brained than others but thats a part of being a creative I think and it’s a good thing for the process. The challenge is to harness that crazy, sit your butt in that chair, and work!
List 3 tools that are essential to your business.
1. My MacBook, is my best. friend. I can’t imagine running a business without a solid work computer. It is like a magic portal to all possibilities in the world. I am my own web designer, graphic designer, marketing manager, printer, social media manager, etc… all the hats. I wear them. I’m so grateful to have a solid work computer to keep me organized and connected everyday.
2. My metalsmithing workbench of course, is essential. It’s where the all magic happens. I’ve had it for years, it’s moved with me multiple times, and it’s a part of the business now.
And 3. my iPhone! I know you're thinking, “duh” everyone needs their phone. But it really holds so much more than just my Instagram and text messages. I use it for ALL my photos of the jewelry. Product shots, mini photo shoots, photo editing…and I always have it on me. Rather than having a separate camera (which I used to do, but I found it was so much more complicated to shoot, upload, edit, etc..) My iPhone camera takes great photos, especially for small scale shots like jewelry. I can edit on my iPhone and iPad and then upload to my website. I couldn't get through a business day without it. Hate saying it, because I do like to disconnect when needed, but it is essential.
What is unique about being a business owner in Richmond?
Richmond is so embracing of small businesses and artists it still blows my mind sometimes. From the restaurant scene to the art/makers scene to event planning companies to the small boutiques and shops, I could go on. But you really can live here and never have to use a product or service from a big box store or company. It’s so encouraging seeing how many RVA based businesses are thriving all around the city. And now that I’m a part of that scene I feel like a member of a big family! Everyone is so encouraging versus competitive too which I think makes it even more unique. I’ve never once felt like I was in competition with any other maker, designer, or artist. Everyone is so helpful and eager to help, collaborate and work together for the greater good of the small business community. It’s really the perfect city to start a small business. I moved here 4 years ago from Lynchburg, VA where I grew up and I’m officially starting to feel like a native Richmonder. I even have an RVA sticker I’m (almost) ready to put on our car.
Do you have any other female business owners that you admire or look to for advice/guidance?
Absolutely. Off the top of my head Ashley Carruthers at Rosewood Clothing Co. has been such an inspiration and help to me from the beginning. She was one of the very first people to ever reach out to me and ask to carry my pieces in a shop. She's a great role model for a business owner and she's so supportive of the small business scene. It’s so fabulous seeing how many girl bosses are in this city. I’ve been lucky enough to meet and work alongside so many girls who are killing it - Molly Campbell of Molly Virginia Made, Jacqueline Davis of Surface Handmade, and Danny Hernandez, a local fashion photographer and blogger. It’s empowering as a female business owner to see other boss babes out there making it happen for themselves. It’s like this lady code we all know about, knowing we’re not alone in this and if needed, any one of us is here to help each other.
What is next for you/your business?
My next step is growing my wedding jewelry collection. I’ve been doing custom projects by request for friends and now that I’m in the thick of our own wedding planning (May 21st is coming in hot!!). I really enjoy creating these “love stories” for people and capturing the entire process. I recently launched my LoveStories link on my website and will be working on ready to wear wedding bands and one of a kind pieces as well. I love the idea of unique and non-traditional engagement rings and wedding sets. I want to use different stones and crystals versus just diamonds to set the pieces apart and create eye-catching rings that are just as post-worthy as the traditional big bling! Something that is as special as the couple who will be wearing them. I’ve got so many ideas swirling through my head, I’ve been sketching and plotting and designing the ad campaign, all in between actual wedding planning and filling orders! In addition to my ongoing goddess pieces and collections, these pieces will be attached to such special meaning, I’m excited to get into the wedding biz. It’s a whole new world!
What or who are you excited about in the art and/or fashion world right now?
Always excited to see fellow girl bosses doing bad ass girl boss things. Especially in the fashion industry. So many of the top designers in the fashion world are men. Women too, but it’s very dude heavy. So seeing younger, emerging female designers really makes me smile. I’m a big fan of Chromat, a fashion design label run by girl boss Becca McCharen who's also from VA, has taken the world by storm. I remember years ago, back in 2011, seeing her label “Chromat” at a small local fashion show in Lynchburg. And now, she’s dressing Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, GaGa, Madonna…I mean she's made her dream a full blown reality and it is SO inspiring. Her designs are architectural and strong, and recently incorporating amazing technology in her Lumina collection that showed at fashion week. Neon lit up garments that react to the wearer?! Yes!! It’s all just so cool and I can totally nerd out for hours but I’ll spare you, ha! I’m just amazed at her innovative designs, watching her come up in real time, and being one of 2 females right now up for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. The episodes of the designers journey are on Amazon (just search The Fashion Fund) and I’ve been watching the show and just being totally inspired to keep up the hard work.