We had the good fortune of connecting with Virginia Hay-Arthur and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Virginia, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I kind of feel like I always wanted to start my own business. Both of my parents started a business and always talked about what that was like and the opportunities and freedom it offered. When I decided to start Virginia Ann Designs, it was actually a bit sooner than I was thinking I would go out on my own, but marriage and moving brought the opportunity to bear. It has given me some of the most challenging moments, but it also gives me the wonderful opportunity to raise my kids while I work from home. I get to make my own schedule and decisions, which I have found to be incredibly valuable. It helps that I absolutely LOVE working with people to design and create jewelry. 🙂
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have been an artist since I could hold a pen to paper. I was an incredibly shy and reserved child, but making things brought me so much comfort and joy. It is in the act of creating that I feel the most like myself, and designing and making jewelry is my favorite. There is something special about working one on one with a client to design and create the piece of jewelry they have been dreaming about. The collaboration creates some fantastic, one of a kind, pieces that tell a unique story. I started making jewelry when I was 7 after attending the birthday party of a friend. She had all of us make a beaded necklace and from then on, I was hooked. I majored in metalsmithing in college and went on to get my Graduate Gemologist Certification from GIA (Gemological Institute of America). I started my post-education career at a wonderful custom jewelry store in downtown Fort Collins, Goldworks. They taught me how to make, repair, design, and sell fine jewelry. Once I married Luke, we moved to Denver and I ventured out on my own. One of the biggest challenges in transitioning into my own business has been going from working in a team oriented creative atmosphere to working entirely on my own. I loved the way my coworkers and I would bounce different design and construction ideas back and forth to create some pretty amazing pieces of jewelry. When I’m working on my own, I have to do all of my own idea generation and there are times I get stuck and don’t know what to design or how to overcome a problem. I also have found I make more mistakes because I don’t have people double and triple checking my decisions/ideas. These are areas I am still working on as I continue to build and grow my business, but I am slowly learning to not be quite so hard on myself all the time. I will continue to make many mistakes and as long as I learn from them, that is one mistake that, hopefully, I won’t make again. I am also working hard to grow my own network, which has helped to create, at least at times, something similar to a team atmosphere. My personal work (anything that isn’t directly commissioned by a client) has really been focused around detailed laser engraving. I have always loved drawing and this can be easily translated into a design that is laser engraved into the metal. The result is jewelry with incredibly fine detail. My themes can vary a lot, but I draw most of my inspiration from nature, and particularly from the Colorado landscape. I am incredibly excited to start on an entirely new line of casual and hopefully inspirational jewelry inspired by my Catholic faith. These pieces will sill incorporate the laser engraved detail, but I plan to add a lot more color with gemstones and diamonds. A majority of my creative work comes from custom design clients. This is so much different than my personal work because I am given guidelines for the designs. I actually really enjoy working within the parameters a client gives me. It’s like working through a complicated puzzle. How do you design a unique and beautiful piece of jewelry within the client’s guidelines that they ALSO think is beautiful AND will structurally hold up to their lifestyle (Coloradoans are particularly hard on their jewelry 🙂 )? Sometimes it can be hard to get on the same page if the client and I have completely different styles or concepts of what is beautiful, but it’s at that point that we have come up with some of the coolest ideas. Overall, I would say I love to create for others. I started this business to make jewelry that had meaning and brought joy to my clients. The best part is watching someone take the first look at their new creation. I take A LOT of pride in the quality of every piece I make and I want them to become cherished family heirlooms or hold the memories of the person who wears them. I also want jewelry to be fun! And worn all the time! I want people to know that I am here for them whatever their jewelry need is, from a jewelry related question to a custom jewelry design.
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.
Haha, so Luke and I just had twin girls. They are almost a year old now, so we have been complete hermits this past year. Here are some of our favorite activities pre-kids: Rock climb Garden of the Gods – you can get some pretty awesome guided climbs through the park. Bike from Denver to Boulder using the bike path that follows 36 – it’s not a difficult bike, but you get some awesome views and there are a lot of great places to get some great food Hike your way up the Incline in C-Springs – We tried to run it, but alas… The Denver Art Museum has some great shows and the building itself is fun to look at Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception – I have gone a few times and the inside is absolutely beautiful. So good for the soul. Water World!!! – We have gone every year towards the end of the summer since I was little The Upstairs Circus – I have only been once (for a bachelorette party) but I had a blast! It was right up my alley, but I thought it was organized well and the selection of crafts is awesome. Luke and I don’t go out to eat very much but our favorite breakfast place is Gabe’s Cafe in Frederick. They make a mean cinnamon roll. 🙂
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to give this one to my husband, Luke. He is incredibly supportive of my passion. There are times when I question my decision to follow this journey and he is my rock that keep me pointed towards my goals. I wouldn’t be able to do this without him.