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Rising Stars: Meet Brittanny DeRaffele

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brittanny DeRaffele. 

Hi Brittanny, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
While studying fashion and merchandising in college, I picked up a minor in studio art that introduced me to the world of metalsmithing and I fell in love right away. I stayed an extra 2 years at Radford University to finish the metals and jewelry program and after graduating I knew I wanted to merge my love of fashion and design with jewelry making. I launched Sun & Selene in 2017 and operated out of our home using our basement space for a metal studio and small guest room for an office to operate my e-commerce site and package orders as they came in. Pop-up shops and local events were a great network to showcase my collection and eventually I had an opportunity to rent a studio space in the historic Scott’s Addition neighborhood in Richmond, VA. I’ve now been in my studio space for 2 years and it’s our HQ for production with a small retail showroom for open store hours. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It’s certainly been a challenge in so many ways. I didn’t start this business with investments or big financial assistance, so it was all hustle from the very beginning. I was able to keep part-time work in a restaurant in the early days to be able to fund my jewelry business and I would recycle every penny from every order back into the business to order metal supplies, packaging, displays, and all the little things that add up for an e-commerce retailer. Once I was busy enough, I was able to leave my bartending job and jump full-time into being a small business owner. I do think that the struggle to get where I am now was so worth all the lessons learned and being able to say we bootstrapped our business from the ground up. 

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m a jeweler and metalsmith and I specialize in handcrafted demi-fine and fine jewelry. My pieces are known for a handcrafted look and feel with influence from ancient mythology and astrology that’s become a trademark of the collection. Carefully hand fabricated, hammered, polished, and finished; I craft each piece that comes out of our studio in small batches using recycled metals and consciously sourced gemstones. 

Any big plans?
This summer I hired my first full-time manager as well as a production assistant to help me keep up with inventory and orders. Currently, we’re in the midst of planning our first big NYC Jewelry Week show as well as an installation at a local gallery in Richmond, VA. 

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