Today we’d like to introduce you to Ana Brazaityte.
Hi Ana, 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?
I started out in jewelry making with an elective metalworking class my last semester in college. I was studying photography at Columbia College in Chicago and really loved the change of pace this hands on art form brought. I started taking more jewelry classes at independent jewelry studios/schools over the following years and little by little branched out into selling my pieces at craft shows and small boutiques. The jewelry business was part-time for me for many years, with other jobs over the years helping support the journey. In 2019, I learned about the Chicago Responsible Jewelry Conference. Attending this conference opened up my eyes to the vast and complicated issues within jewelry supply chains. I began to reassess my practices and started working to make sure my sourcing would align with my values and moral framework. This is an ongoing journey of learning and improvement.
In the summer of 2019, I had also finally taken the plunge to working on my jewelry business full time. Less than a year later, when the pandemic began, my jewelry production came to a halt. I was lucky enough to be in a stable home situation, with my partner working from home and this actually gave me the time to shift the way I think about my work. I really began focusing on spreading awareness about jewelry supply chain issues and sharing everything I was learning with colleagues and peers. It led me to seeing my jewelry pieces as a tool in my work of moving the jewelry industry in a better direction – working towards an industry that is beneficial to all people along the supply chain and prioritizes stewardship of the environment.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Definitely not. But I’ve been really lucky and privileged to have the support of my partner and friends along the way. I’ve tried things that didn’t work well for me – turns out craft shows and wholesale selling isn’t for me, I don’t really like making the same designs over and over again. I’m much happier creating bespoke pieces. As rewarding as finding my own path forward in the jewelry industry has been, I’ve also had many moments where I questioned whether I could actually “make it work” in my own way or whether I could make any money with the awareness raising work I wanted to be doing.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I hand fabricate customizable, modern fine jewelry. In all of my work, I prioritize using materials from responsible, artisanal sources. One of my main values in my business is radical transparency. I speak about my sourcing practices publicly and will answer any questions about my materials or production methods. I really want to encourage more transparency in the jewelry industry as it is traditionally a very secretive and opaque space – which can mask large issues such as human rights abuses, unsafe working conditions, negative environmental impacts and more.
I’m working on some wonderful educational projects and consumer awareness campaigns that I hope will be released in the first part of the new year! I’m also hoping to streamline my website to create an easy workflow for clients to customize existing Truss and Ore designs to make them their own.