City: Beirut, Lebanon

Passion: Spontaneity 

Websitehttp://vaninadesign.co/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VaninaDesign

Since the day I discovered Vanina jewelry at a small boutique store in Beirut, I have made it my ritual to buy a collection of the colorful and soulful pieces every time I visit Lebanon. Two years in, I was buying in bulk for a group of my American friends in the USA who fell for the brand. Besides the pride of wearing creations of Lebanese "badass" female entrepreneurs and designers, I am particularly proud of the craft of the work of Joanne and Tatiana, who hand make most of their creations in their atelier in Lebanon. When I asked Joanne and Tatiana about their dreams their Vanina they both smiled at each other and responded: "To become an established brand and open flagship stores in major cities, while keeping the social aspect of giving back to Lebanon." And that we have no doubt is going to happen.  

 

On Passion

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Designing jewelry came very naturally, almost without us knowing it. When we were hanging together as kids, we always used to create stuff. We realized we had that capacity as friends to co-create, and we knew we wanted to do something together.
Once we finished school, we started working on a line of t-shirts. In 2007, we picked it up again, starting the first line with old coins. We started doing it for ourselves as a hobby, when we were both at university. Then we thought, why not create a brand? Tatiana’s mom has a shop, so why not launch our t-shirt line as a brand? From then on, it took off.
Bringing in Lebanon comes naturally. We have an attachment to the city of Beirut and the country. Our inspiration is both Lebanese and international.

On Mastery

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At some point, it got tricky. We started having responsibility, yet we needed to stay dreamy and spontaneous. You learn to structure your creativity and put it within the structure. Enjoying the work is important. We try to enjoy it for ourselves before others.
We still do the samples. It is intentional, to boost our creativity. There are steps that are mechanical, such as laser cutting. Doing the handicraft steps ourselves makes us realize things we didn’t originally realize. You have another feeling with the piece when you do it yourself. 95% of our products have hand work related to them.
We did not study jewelry making or designing.

On Transition

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From the beginning, we said we weren’t making it for the money. We would not have gotten to where we are at today if we did not take it seriously.
Each of us put in $100. We continuously reinvest in the growth of Vanina.

On Failure

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It is hard to notice when something that happens is a failure. Because failure is making us stronger; it shapes us. At the beginning of our journey, we benefitted from beginner’s luck. Every project was a success. However, as you progress, you have to start to think ahead. And since we are very spontaneous, we, for example, participated in events we should not have. But we always took each mistake as a learning.
We learn from every experience. We take small steps so our failures are small.

On Fear

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We’re much more afraid than we were before. Previously, we had university responsibilities, and Vanina on the side. But now Vanina is a business. And we want to make it grow. Our biggest fear is that we can’t be based in Lebanon. Production and sales are done in Beirut. We focus a lot on exporting, since we can’t depend solely on the Lebanese market. However we want to keep creating in Lebanon.

On Money

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We’ve known good times and bad times. We dream big, but live the dream in small steps. This helps us reduce financial risks and take measures accordingly. I have to confess we’ve had times when we had to tighten our living expenses to the benefit of our company’s growth, however looking at your business as your passion allows you to make sacrifices you wouldn’t have done for other professional purposes.

On Self-Love

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We’re learning to be disciplined. We used to not sleep before, but now, we are trying to balance our lives. It is important to have our weekends and our escapes for creativity and inspiration. We do yoga; Joanne does horseback riding. We also go on hikes in nature.

On Inspiration

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We’re not inspired by specific people. We’re inspired by Beirut and the Lebanese culture. Beirut is a city of surprises. There is an energy; you feel it. It is working in its own way: the streets, so much history that you discover spontaneously, the artisans we work with.

On Support

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We are surrounded in support from our families. We have the same vision.

Advice to the Community 

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Enjoy the process more than the outcome, believe in the project from the beginning. In any creation, keep trying, keep iterating until you get it right. You will get there. There are a lot of projects we could have abandoned if we did not keep trying. When you have a vision and you trust it, don’t stop.

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