Caroline VenturaJewelry Designer, Founder of BRVTVS
"Aesthetically, I’ve never been into things that are fussy."
[Ed. Note: When you walk into Caroline Ventura’s apartment you’ll think you’ve been transported to Patti Smith’s 1970s heaven, complete with off-kilter posters and a heap of bicycles against a wall. The BRVTVS designer's world is just as intricate and interesting as she is; really.]
“I grew up in LA at the beach in a little town called Ventura, which is also my married last name. It’s this cool little beach town that’s outside of Los Angeles. I spent a lot of time in LA itself. I lived there for a few years; my dad works in Hollywood so I kind of grew up on a movie set a little bit.
Most people would think that growing up in Hollywood, you automatically want to become an actress. I didn’t for some reason; partly because I was really bad at it! [laughs] I did some modeling for many years, and then once I turned into an old horse I had to be shot. You know, when I was like 25. [smiles]
I’ve been in New York on and off for over 10 years now. I was modeling here for a little bit, and then I bounced around Europe for a little while… I became very accustomed to living out of a suitcase. This is actually the longest I’ve ever lived in a single city. I’m lucky that I can travel with what I do. I can pack up at any stage and go to any city to check out what boutiques are there and what kind of jewelry they are selling. My husband gets to travel a lot with his work too. He has a design firm, so I can tag along with him.
I started doing jewelry almost two years ago. Before that I was doing hairstyling for editorials and projects like that. I liked it, but I just came to realize that I wasn’t passionate enough about it to sweat through it so that I could maybe make it in the end. I’ve always been doing stuff that has been in a creative field, and I love creating things. I was just constantly getting dragged down by executing something that somebody else wanted me to do. I’m the type of person that likes to create my own things.
I’ve always been obsessed with touching things. As a kid I always loved pottery and I learned to make my own paper. I would put pressed flowers in it; I was like a little grandma. I was super artsy-crafty. I love seeing something come from nothing and seeing that process from start to finish. When you get a hunk of metal and you’re able to turn it into something really dainty, delicate, and beautiful, it’s an amazing process.
I love clean lines and really simple stuff, but what I make is still kind of graphic. Aesthetically, I’ve never been into things that are fussy. Even the way that I dress, I don’t like things that are complicated. I like things that are comfortable. I’ll wear something until it either breaks, or is so incredibly out of style that I just look ridiculous, or it is falling apart. I’ve always had a bespoke approach to everything, so it makes sense that I’d want to make jewelry. I always get my clothing tailored to fit. I’ll buy something that’s like 8 sizes too big if I like it, and then I just get it made it to fit.
Making jewelry is something that I sort of fell into, but I’m really glad that I did. I made this one bracelet for myself and a few people started to comment on it, so I sat down and sketched a bunch of designs. I took some classes and figured out how to make them. My friend Maya Villiger had taken some photos and posted them on her blog [TurnedOut.tv], and then it spread by word of mouth. One day I woke up and was like, ‘Oh! I’m a jewelry designer.’ It’s still quite a small brand, it’s only me that’s here doing it and everything is handmade in my studio. I think eventually I would like to take over the world with it but… There’s plans in the works.” – Caroline Ventura to SHOP GHOST
Caroline Ventura photographed in New York by Stevie Dance.
Caroline's Tips and Tales
“Nothing from BRVTVS is over about $250. A lot of simple jewelry today is priced so expensively. There is a lot of work that goes into it, but for me I don’t want to exclude people from being able to buy stuff just because I choose to work with a precious metal. At the moment, I like to mix a little bit of solid gold with gold fill. All of my earrings are solid 14 karat and some of the rings.”
“I just did some ear cuffs for Jason Wu’s spring show and those are all solid 14-18 karat, so slowly a little more precious metal and stones are going to be tricking in. I am friends with Kate Young who is Jason’s stylist, and she came to me to talk about different ideas of what we could do. She wanted it to look like the models had multiple piercings, so we came up with the idea to do these ear cuffs that make it look like the girls have there ears pierced in unusual ways. So a lot of them fit like in the middle of our ear, you can stack them up on top and make it look like you have a lots. I’m really obsessed with ear piercings.”
Patti Smith, Body Double
“I once ran down the street and stopped Patti Smith. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. I was like, ‘Holy shit! That is Patti Smith!’ so I smiled at her. I probably looked like an idiot. Then I decided to chase her down the street and I asked her for a photo. She was really gracious, and was super cool having her picture taken with this crazy girl who was all giddy about her. We were wearing the same outfit, and she even commented on it. We both had on black jeans and black boots, and we were both wearing tuxedo jackets. I went through a phase where I would wear a little boy’s tuxedo jacket everyday, to the point my husband was like, ‘Maybe don’t wear that jacket anymore?’ [laughs]”
“I pretty much get 99% of the stuff I own on eBay. The shoes I’m wearing I got on eBay, this shirt was eBay. I’ve wanted a vintage class shirt for probably fifteen years and they are always really expensive. It was a Christmas present to myself.”