Meet Brandy, creator and artist of one of Arkansas' favorite jewelry brands, Bella Vita Jewelry
. Brandy has been making one-of-a-kind jewelry for as long as she can remember, but started making it professionally and having a flourishing business in the last six years. Through selling her jewelry at trunk shows, block parties and craft fairs, she has become an Arkansas artist known by many and has recently been able to practice her craft full-time—something we find more than inspiring. Her jewelry is always infused with her own style and unique to her growing brand, Bella Vita. We decided to sit down with her for a Q and A and give you all an inside look at her passion and her studio in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Meet Brandy (what a cutie!),
Darcy Munoz: How long have you been making jewelry?
Brandy Thomason McNair: I started making jewelry when I was 11-ish... so about 21 years now. But, I took a short break for college from about 2003 - 2007 and then started my business in January of 2008. I became full-time and self-employed about a year ago.
DM: What is your fave piece of jewelry and why?
BTM: Oh, man! I have so many. I have a nice collection of vintage pieces that I have been gifted and some that I have thrifted. I would have to say that some of my favorites are the old Czech glass beaded pieces and Art Deco pieces with Czech glass embellishments. Oh, and anything that has anything to do with Italian micro mosaics. I guess you could call the mosaics my favorite.
DM: Why jewelry?
BTM: My parents worked full-time so I was lucky to get to spend a lot of time with my grandmothers when I was young. They were both entrepreneurs and dabbled in jewelry in some fashion or the other. I guess that struck my initial interests. As I got older I would pursue the jewelry finding aisles of a local Ben Franklin shop and purchase whatever interested me with my allowance. I taught myself how to twist wires, make earrings, and such... A few years later I started working at a bead store in Eureka Springs and it all flourished from there. I realized not too long after starting my business in 2008, that this is what I am meant to do. I know that might sound silly because it is just jewelry, I am not out saving lives or the world... but it feels good to be doing what I know I am meant to do and what I am good at. And maybe someday I'll save the world! :)
DM: What inspires your work?
BTM: I would say the materials I work with are most inspiring to me. I use a lot of natural stones, vintage baubles, and pendants and charms I make myself. If I run out of inspiration, I like to try to find it by taking walks around my neighborhood, visiting flea markets, boutiques, and art museums.
DM: Who are your style icons?
BTM: I am currently loving all things Dolce & Gabanna... but other than that I can't name any brands I love or lust after. I most admire people who do their own thing and create their own trends and styles.
BTM: What makes you feel most confident?
DM: I gain a lot of my confidence from my clients and customers. It's hard to put yourself out there as an artist... but oh so rewarding when people understand you!
Brandy, we couldn't agree more. Putting yourself out there is one of the hardest things anyone can do, but we as your true fans are really glad you have!
UPCOMING TRUNK SHOWS
Thursday, Sept. 4 at Box Turtle for "Shop n Sip" Hillcrest, Little Rock 5p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 6 at Good Things Boutique on Block Street in Fayetteville 10a.m.-4p.m.
Brandy is giving away this beautiful hand-made, one-of-a-kind pendant necklace to one lucky HL reader. Want to enter? Head over to Bella Vita Jewelry website and comment below telling us your favorite item, or enter on Instagram by following @hello_luvvy and @bellavitajewelry and tagging two friends on this photo on Instagram. Share the photo for extra points with #bellavitaluvv. CONTEST ENDS WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3RD. Good Luck!