We had the good fortune of connecting with Brittanny DeRaffele and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brittanny, how do you think about risk?
Taking on a small business owner life has certainly been the biggest risk of all! I went to school for Fashion Design and Merchandising with a minor in Metalsmithing and have always known I wanted to be a designer full time. After college I decided that until I was ready to jump into being a business owner and maker full time, I would continue my work in the restaurant industry and there came I time that I realized if I didn’t risk it all and make the leap, I might never do it. Had I not, I wouldn’t be where I am today. As a full time jeweler and business owner now for 5 years, I realize that taking a huge risk to bet on myself was the best decision I could have made. Months of pinching every penny, praying I would get a sale so I could reinvest that money to buy more materials, searching for every market opportunity to get myself out there – all of these stages when I first started were stepping stones to building my business the hard way. I was able to totally bootstrap my venture and work my to now having a studio space and showroom. Grateful for every step and terrifying risk that got me here.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My brand, Sun & Selene, is a jewelry line inspired by human history, mythology and astrology, ancient adornment and our natural world. I am a trained metalsmith and jeweler and handcraft every piece in my Richmond, VA studio. My studio space is a full production and design show room and I am so proud of the atelier I have built. After years of working out of my guest room and a metalsmithing set up in our home basement, I was able to move into a dream studio space. One of the biggest and scariest decisions was taking on a new huge expense with a studio space rent, but it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’ve now been in my space for 2 years, a full time business owner for 5 years, and a practicing metalsmith for over 11 years. Doing this full time creative life has been a huge and constant learning experience and I am so grateful I was able to do it the hard way and take the wins with the losses as I built myself up. My love of my craft has been the constant push for me to continue even when it got really hard or felt impossible.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Richmond is such a FUN adventure city! We love showing our family and friends around when they visit. We are big foodie people (my husband is a chef here in RVA) so we like to center our adventures around good food and drinks. We would do a day hang in Scott’s Addition which is Richmonds brewery hood. Take a walking tour around from The Veil, Starr Hill, Ardent and more, and end in the wine park at Brambly Park. Food stops at Lucky AF, Stella’s and Lunch.SUPPER! and then a night cap cocktail at Perch. For a sunny day by the river we would do Browns Island, the T. Potterfield bridge and explore on Belle Isle and then have cocktails in the arts district on the rooftop at Quirk or The Graduate. And we would of course include a brunch day at Helens, Can Can, or a walk over to Nates Bagels followed by a stroll through the VMFA gardens and galleries.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Absolutely my husband and my family. There was no hesitation when I made the decision to leave my full time job and start my own business and my family was a huge reason for that. My parents are also small business owners and I have always been inspired by their hustle and drive and knew from a young age I wanted to work for myself one day as well. WIthout their support and encouragement I wouldn’t be able to keep doing what I love.