Is Buenaventura ACTUALLY your last name? Yes, that was our first question to Elizabeth Buenaventura! We should have been a little more coy and disguised our fan girl moment, but if you’ve never met Elizabeth, believe us, you will want to meet her. You’ll be taken away by her enthusiasm, whirlwind energy, and what seems to be a “lifetime original show” of her every day life. We were glued to our seats and like any good adventure, she left us wanting more. So how could you blame us for wondering if Buenaventura was her last name? We wanted to know!
Elizabeth, is Buenaventura actually your last name?! And why is your name as your brand’s name important to you?
EB: YES, of course it is! “Buenaventura” means “Good Adventure” or “Good Fortune”. I believe everyone should create their own good adventure and fortune so I embraced my brand’s name as Elizabeth Buenaventura!
You’ve been on an “adventure’ finding your place as a jewelry designer. From being born in Connecticut, growing up in Chile, attending business school, then finding your way by enrolling in jewelry courses at Academia De Alta Joyería a with Daniel Waisberg in Santiago, and finally moving to New York City. How do you think your past has shaped the way you think of jewelry and your designs?
EB: My brand and jewelry is definitely a reflection of my past and my good adventures as my last name says. I’ve always been artsy and creative and while I was in business school, took jewelry courses which turned out to be a great compliment. And like my past, I still try to keep on this path of traveling and moving around. It’s mostly for work these days, but I try to travel for both work AND pleasure!
With traveling a big part of your inspiration, where was the most recent “working vacation” you went on and how do you keep yourself designing on the go?
EB: The last place was Martha’s Vineyard. I’m attracted and inspired by the ocean and places that speak of summer. You can see the ocean and nature influence in my pearls and marine themed collections.
For designing, I always carry a notebook and I’m always sketching. I literally put all of my mind into those pages. I keep multiple of these notebooks, collecting them and then going back to them. I’ll always look back to see if a previous idea can work for now. That’s the first step. Then finding a concept with the knowledge of what customers want, merging the business side with the creative side.
Reading from your blog, you really cherish and appreciate your customer’s feedback. What’s the best experience / feedback that you’ve received from a customer?
EB: My customer’s feedback is so rewarding! Listening to my customers and understanding what they want is very important to me. My best experience I had was when I was on a fashion cruise and offered my seat to a lovely woman. She showed me her jewelry collection and bought a pearl ring from me. As with any purchase, I sent her a written thank you card. Well, she wrote back, 2 pages with pictures of her home, of us on the cruise and how much she loved the ring! Since then, we’ve written back and forth a few times. It was amazing because you establish these relationships that mean so much, it was one of my happiest moments!
Can you tell us another good fortune moment?!
EB: I got my first job in the States by a woman I met on Craigslist. I was looking for a couch and when I met her to inquire about her couch, she asked me what I did. I had no idea that she owned two jewelry companies and that she was looking for a jewelry designer! Right when I started working for her, she applied me for the Case Awards. It was amazing to have meet her and win the Case Awards!
You must have known then that jewelry was destined for you! Only a few years later, you launched your “Elizabeth Buenaventura” line. Can you tell us about that and what was the hardest part of launching your brand?
EB: In 2013 I registered my company but kept my full time job. In 2015 I officially quit my job. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. To leave stability without knowing. For two years I had a full time job and worked on my line during nights and weekends. I wasn’t sleeping and I needed to walk the plank! I figured, what’s the worse thing that can happen?
You walked the plank and not only swam, but found your own little island – a glittering island filled with ethically sourced and sustainable jewelry! Any specific materials you gravitate towards?
EB: I prefer working with gold. I love the color. Then DIAMONDS. They go with everything, they have a value, they shine and illuminate. For colored stones, I mainly work with precious stones such as rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. Then there are my baroque pearls. They are a good size, a good luster, and make a point of difference.
Yes, the pearls! We’ve been staring at your Dream Collar that you’ve been wearing this whole time. You mention it as a point of difference, how was this a turning point for you?
EB: The Dreamer Line was a memorable time for me because I introduced a new material. Completely different from anything I had done before. They were great, however, again with listening to my customers, I made a few changes and launched a second pearl line that bridged my Dreamer Line with my easy, everyday pieces.
With so many pieces from your collection that are easy and everyday, what are your favorite for stacking and layering?
EB: My Youth Eternity Rings in any color. They are some of my bestsellers and I love them. They can be worn as a wedding band or stacked with what you already have. I have lots of women who will buy two, one for each side of their ring! Then there is my Nirvana Necklace. It was the first piece I sold and is one of my favorite pieces. It is an everyday piece that is vintage with a modern twist.
What one piece of jewelry do you find yourself wearing most?
EB: I can’t pick one! I love my Starfish Ring. I feel empowered when I wear it and it’s so comfortable! I also love my Youth Ear Cuff. It’s one of my signature pieces and you don’t need a second piercing to wear it! It’s just cool and goes with everything. I wear it everyday and people have stopped me on the street to buy it from me!
With little successes like people stopping you on the street to major success such as getting an interview spread on Vogue Latin America, winning 1st place for the CASE Awards of Jeweler’s of America, and being a finalist in the Alternative Bridal Engagement 101 contest, what’s next?! What’s next on this good adventure?!
EB: For my future goals, I’m already in the process of dividing my lines. I launched EB Jewel earlier this year which is a collection with personalized initial items and mix and match jewelry all under $1000. Then I have my Elizabeth Buenaventura core line in which I’ll be introducing new types of pearls such as Tahitian pearls and pink baroque pearls. And finally, fully creating a bridal collection. I have done wedding bands and custom bridal pieces, but I want to really sit down and create an experience, a whole bridal line!
If going off on adventures lead to meeting your future boss while couch shopping and then launching a successful jewelry line, count us in! With the introduction of her new lines and expansion of her core collection, there’s no doubt Elizabeth will have everyone stopping her on the street! But take fair warning, you may not be able to buy just one piece. As for us at SWOONERY, we’ve doubled down on the Youth Eternity Rings. One for each hand, or maybe as the best compliment for Elizabeth’s new bridal line!