Meet Rachel Vanatta, Jewelry Queen of the Beach
We here at Deal Divas love to highlight local designers and up-and-coming creative types, and 29-year-old Rachel Vanatta is right up there with the best of 'em. Originally from northeast Ohio, the Savannah College of Art & Design grad moved down to Florida eight years ago with her illustrator husband because, well, they both get inspired by the water and ocean themes. The move worked out well for them. They opened up a gallery called The Hive Creations on Anna Maria Island (9908 Gulf Drive), and Vanatta sells her eclectic jewelry pieces in a handful of galleries and retail shops throughout the Tampa Bay area. She also has her pieces displayed overseas at a retail chain in Ireland -- totally random, but she's not complaining.
Rachel's online gallery is NectarJewelry.com, and notice this isn't your typical cheapo Forever 21 stuff we like to discuss here from time to time. It's the real deal -- semi-precious stones, freshwater pearls, Swarovski crystals, crab claws cast in brass, quality metals that won't turn your skin green. A lot of her pieces run in the $100 range, so it's the kind of handmade jewelry you buy and wear on special occasions. And, dear readers of this magnificent blog, until June 1, if you see something on the Nectar Jewelry site that you like, e-mail the gallery at email@example.com or call 941-465-8042 and get 15 percent off your order by mentioning the Deal Divas.
And now, for some more on Rachel ...
Where do you get your inspiration?
I have scrapbooks I've kept for years that have inspirational images in them that I've copied from books. I like photos of old jewelry from ancient Egypt, which I love. I have them all around my studio. I have a style I think has evolved over the years, but there are some recurring themes. Like aqua colors, I really love. They really reflect the water. The aqua sells really well, and I love it too.
Playing with beautiful, blue crystal-y stones all day is fine with me!
Are you ever surprised at what does sell?
Sometimes I'll make the craziest stuff, like with spikes, and I'm sure it won't sell. I love sea urchins and have done pieces that resemble sea urchins. It'll be expensive and a lot of work, and I'll put it out there, like, "This is sort of from my heart," thinking it won't actually sell. And then it's gone in a week. It doesn't always happen but when it does, it's pretty awesome.
Your jewelry is only available in a handful of stores, yet you also don't offer online shopping. How does this work?
You do have to e-mail and call to order, and we have PayPal. Because each piece is custom-made, I prefer talking to the person and getting to know what they like, what length or size they need. I've gotten overseas customers -- I don't know how they find me, but they do -- and I feel like it's important to know what they're expecting before shipping something off to them. I like to talk to customers, and I realize sometimes that might deter people who like to just click and buy. But they're not buying a $3 earring set. If they're going to spend a hundred dollars on a neckleace or earrings, they should be able to get it exactly how they want it.
What's next for Nectar Jewelry? Besides more sea urchin-inspired jewelry, I mean.
I really want to get my pieces in other stores. Mostly local, but some point, it would be great to try out the market in Atlanta or someplace like that. I'm always going to do my custom pieces, butultiple pieces, maybe numbered. There's 10 of these. We really love owning a store, but we don't want to own a chain of stores or anything like this. We would like to get the word out that if you come here, there's going to be more pieces than what you'll find online. And the prices at my store are a little less -- an incentive to get people to come out, talk to us, let us get to know the customers.
Deal Diva Emily
Photos: Nectar Jewelry