We sat down, and by “sat down” I mean, Vitaly designer, Shane Vitaly Foran, was kind enough to answers a few of our questions on a long 13-hour trip to Chicago.
Vitaly Design was born in the small village of Ubud, located in central Bali, Indonesia. Creator, Shane Vitaly Foran, decided to put his life on hold for three months to experience a needed change of pace and infusion of culture. He picked up and flew to South-East Asia. After six weeks of unplanned travel, he landed in Ubud and couldn’t leave. Shane stayed in this small heaven for artists from around the globe for over three weeks – much longer than the two days he had planned.
Contrary to Shane‘s extrovert personality, he spent those three weeks in a state of introverted reflection. Entranced by the beauty of the village, he was inspired to pursue something new – fashion. After coming up with a few simple designs, Shane received an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to his tweets and Facebook posts. He then decided to take a risk: Shane invested the last $3,000 he had on his student credit line to create Vitaly Design.
Since April of 2012, Shane and business partner Jason Readman have been working on Vitaly Design full-time.
INSPIRATIONIST: Where do you take your inspiration from and what guided you to this refined “mechanics” area?
Shane Vitaly Foran: I’ve never really been able to pin down one thing that inspires me, though I certainly feel more creative. When I rack my brain, the two words that keep popping into my head are architecture and friends though.
I was guided / I fell into jewelry design while I was backpacking in South East Asia. I really had no intention of starting a jewelry business – I just wanted something made for me. That random ‘want’ ultimately became the catalyst for the amazing journey I’m now on!
I: What kind of materials do you use?
SVF: The materials I use are a huge part of Vitaly’s foundation. I make every effort to work with unique premium materials that won’t boost prices astronomically like precious metals will. That has led me to working with combinations of several materials including exotic woods, ceramic and titanium. I’ve been using a ton of rose gold detailing lately as well and really enjoy it.
I: Who does the manufacturing? You do or you collaborate with someone?
SVF: For our wood products, I still work with Ugenk, the same Balinese man I worked with right from the beginning. He no longer does any of the carving / manufacturing though, but rather has assembled a team that he oversees as our production manager. Ugenk has become our friend and we’re very proud to say that we have enormously increased the quality of living for him and his family. The rest of our production is done in different locations near Hong Kong. With our ever-increasing portfolio and the range of materials we work with, we require several different suppliers.
I: What does your workplace/studio look like?
SVF: Our workspace is just our bedrooms or the kitchen table, to be honest. Jason Readman, my business partner / old friend / roommate, and I live and breathe Vitaly, so we really have no reason to go any further than our home.
I: Do you have a routine when you start working on a new piece?
SVF: Not really. I tend to get inspired at the most random times. It’s pretty common that I find myself getting out of bed at 3:00am, throwing on the light and sketching out an idea that just popped into my head or I dreamt about. I keep all of my ideas and when we’re ready to release something, I go back, review everything I’ve done, then pick my favorites.
I: Do you have a piece you are most proud of? If yes, what does it mean to you?
SVF: The piece I’m the most proud of is our Amici ring. It is a single finger square ring with three pieces that are held together by 4 bolts. This is hands down my favorite piece because it was the piece that allowed me to break away from doing two and three finger rings, and ultimately inspired me to design a full collection. It’s also a piece that is unique enough that it’ll never be confused for someone else’s design.
I: Do you plan on exploring any new techniques, using new materials, going in different directions in the future, or do you want to preserve your signature look?
SVF: I have two new materials that I’m in the process of planning for, but they’ll have to remain top secret for now.
I: What accessory moment in cinema/music/fashion do you find most memorable?
SVF: Cruella de Vil’s cigarette holder from 101 Dalmatians… I really have no idea why that came to mind, and I don’t even smoke, but for whatever reason, that’s the only thing I can think of!
I: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned by being a jewelry designer?
SVF: I don’t even know where to start with this question… In the past 1.5 years, I have learned more than the rest of my life combined. One of the major takeaways from building this brand has been to never take your friends fore granted – they’re your foundation. I’ve also learned that starting a business is the scariest rollercoaster you’ll ever ride, and at times may feel like your life is about to end, but it always works out if you focus on the tracks in front of you, keep your head up, and do your best to enjoy the ride.
All Images © Zack Vitiello, Shane Vitaly Foran