Today on the blog we’re chatting with Vanessa Stofenmacher, founder of Vrai & Oro, an LA-based jewelry line founded on three key values: quality, simplicity, and transparency. By creating high quality, elegantly designed pieces while cutting down on typical high markups, Vrai & Oro is on a mission to expose the flaws within the jewelry industry, and reshape them into something more beautiful, and more honest. Hear more from Vanessa in our interview with her below!
Tell us a bit about your background and what led you to founding Vrai & Oro!
I actually don’t have a background in jewelry. I studied graphic design and founded a boutique branding studio where I spent a few years designing brand identities for small companies and startups.
I soon came to realize that brands are not defined by their aesthetic, but rather their belief systems and values.
So I found myself with the urge to live through this lifecycle from start to finish. I was curious as to why I didn’t wear much jewelry, and realized that nothing truly connected to me in the industry, so I set out to design something that would.
From the start, your mission has focused on transparency, simplicity, and quality. What made these values such key parts of what you wanted to create in a company?
Quality, simplicity, and transparency are tied to my own personal values, so they’ve naturally translated into everything we do. We believe in style over fashion, quality over quantity, and people over profits – something that’s too often flipped in businesses today.
This month at Yellow, we’re focusing on Ability; recognizing both our potential to learn new skills, as well as our capability to uniquely impact the world with our individual strengths. In creating Vrai & Oro, you set out to expose the flaws of the jewelry industry and pave a way for it to become something entirely different - which is a huge undertaking! What abilities have empowered you to be this advocate for change?
I would say curiosity is the force that drives me to create change – I always want to get to the source of a problem.
Once you’ve identified the root, you can build an entirely new way of doing things from the ground up.
Have there been any moments where you have doubted your abilities? If so, how were you able to move past them?
Of course! I don’t have a background in jewelry, I don’t have a business degree, and I’m learning as I go, so I’m constantly questioning myself along the way. The thing that keeps me grounded is our value system. Whenever I’m unsure of a decision, I go back to our values… if they align, it’s always the right decision, even if it’s not the most popular one.
Your offices and production are based in the heart of Los Angeles! How has the community here influenced you as a creative and entrepreneur?
Los Angeles is going through a transition and it has this amazing energy that for me translates into opportunity. There’s a focus on living a healthy lifestyle as well as an acceptance for change which is truly exciting for me.
At Yellow, we believe that work isn’t just a career, but how you find and make meaning in this world. How do you believe we can find this holistic, integrated life that blends who we are as individuals with the work we do?
When you’re passionate about what you do, your work is no longer “work”. You’re on a mission to create something with meaning and purpose, and it’s nearly impossible to separate that intention from your personal life.
What does the name Vrai & Oro mean, and why did you choose it for the brand?
Vrai & Oro means “truth” in French and “gold” in Spanish. Truth is an intangible ideal that we’re always striving for and gold is a fundamental element that’s tangible and real. The two words symbolize what we strive to create in our jewelry – a combination of a larger concept with a physical product.
Many of us struggle with not feeling truly confident in our abilities to take on the dreams we want to. What advice would you give to any woman currently dealing with this?
I think the fear of failure is the biggest hurdle women face when deciding whether to take on their dreams or play it safe.
But if we can change our mindsets to see failure as an opportunity, we become unstoppable.
I believe we learn more in our failures than our successes – it’s like touching a hot stove, we have to get burned to understand how it feels and then we can grow and quickly move on.
Are there any books, tools, or resources that have impacted you recently?
Would mediation be considered a tool? :) If so, that’s what keeps me grounded, self-aware and consistent.
What is your favorite part of the day at Vrai & Oro?
My favorite part of the day is the morning when I sit down at my desk with a cup of tea. Every day is different so it’s like flipping the page in a book you can’t put down. You don’t know what to expect, but you’re excited to see what happens next.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra for your life?
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
― Shunryu Suzuki
Photos courtesy of Vrai & Oro