Meet This Girl Vanessa Stofenmacher

 
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On her creative roots

I actually don’t have a background in jewelry at all. I came into this industry in a very roundabout way. My background is definitely more on the creative design side. My mom was an entrepreneur and graphic designer, so I’ve always had this entrepreneurial spirit in me, but I’ve also always known that I wanted to be in the design world. I was designing and playing around with photoshop when I was in the fifth grade for fun. I guess a part of me always knew design would be a part of my career, but I definitely didn’t have jewelry on my mind.

On the beginnings of Vrai and Oro

I started a design company after graduating from OTIS College of Art & Design, but I felt like I hit a wall in regard to I could actually offer and I felt as though I wasn’t connecting with people the way I wanted to. Jewelry became this next step, a new way for me to connect with people - it was more tangible and was a way for me to translate design into a product.  

Vrai and Oro started with many different beginnings. I had a company prior to starting Vrai and Oro that helped me understand the jewelry industry and see everything behind the scenes. It taught me exactly what I didn’t want to do in the jewelry industry. I was doing that for about a year, and then I transitioned into Vrai and Oro, which had a relatively fast turn around. We launched after six months of intense work, and then everything took off slowly from there. With Vrai and Oro, it wasn’t about doing a huge release or becoming the next biggest brand overnight, it was about doing things right and creating something sustainable.

On her role within Vrai and Oro

Every day is so different. My title is Creative Director and President. My passion is definitely more on the creative side of things, but 75% of my time is spent on the President side of things because there’s so much happening within the company that I need to know about and understand as President.

The hardest part of running this company has been seeing myself as a leader. This is something that I am continuing to work on. It’s an exciting position to be in, but it has definitely been a big challenge for me as well. I’ve been reading a lot of books and trying to figure out what it takes to be a great leader.

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On the best part of having her own company

The most amazing part of having a business is having a team that’s just as passionate as you are about something. I obviously live, breathe, eat and sleep Vrai and Oro and it makes me extremely proud to see that other members of my team have that same passion and drive. It is really special.

On the women who inspire her

My mom and my sisters constantly inspire me. My mom is the most determined woman I have ever encountered.

On the best advice she ever received

My mom is always doing something and hates when people put things off.

One time I was putting off something small, I think it was doing the dishes, and my mom turned to me and said “just do it.” The Nike phrase! It was a small moment that really stuck with me and I thought this could apply to everything in my life. Doing all the little things the moment you think of them enables you to accomplish so much more.

On how she recharges and resets

I’m a very routine oriented person - I love my routine. My work life is so chaotic and I go into every day knowing that things are going to go differently than I anticipated. Outside of work - that’s my sanctuary time. I make sure that I’m taking care of my health, that I am exercising, drinking the same green smoothie with a hundred ingredients that I make every morning, meditating and having date night with my husband every Friday night, which is a religious thing that we do. Sticking with these routines is what keeps me balanced and sane.

On being open to whatever the future may hold

I really haven’t built out a forward-thinking plan for myself. I never have and I almost like the fact that everything is so open and unknown. I like to see the future as a path that’s not traveled yet, so I really have no idea what will be in store. I’m open to whatever comes in five years.

On who she is in three words

Thoughtful, creative, and open-minded.

On being a private person

I’m a fairly private and introverted person. Being introverted is one of the qualities I have come to really love about myself.

I talk openly with others who might view their introversion as something that’s more of a setback for them, but I personally think that one’s introversion can be such an asset if it’s embraced.

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On how she lives her life

Vulnerability is a huge part of everything I do. I try to embrace those times that feel weird and gray and lack clarity and approach them with curiosity and understanding.

On what drives her

Curiosity has always driven me. If there is ever a time where I am not feeling very motivated, I look to find things that will pique my curiosity whether it’s watching a documentary or reading a book.

Her advice for a girl on her way

My best advice would be to stay true to yourself, embrace things that you may feel are your setbacks as your assets, and foster the unique gifts that make you who you are. Some people may look at your gifts negatively, but you should always embrace the things that make you different.

Photographed by Morey Spellman in Los Angeles, August 2018.

More: Meet This Girl, Los Angeles, Jewelry

 
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