It's all about the journey ~ VANDA inspired

It's All About The Journey

We all have a story, a narrative of diverse experiences and interests that shape us. Today, I’m honored to share a little of my story and unveil the journey that inspired this jewelry brand.


"Playing dress-up begins at the age of five and never truly ends." – Kate Spade


It’s a big world after all
Culture, travel, nature, art… Growing up in Northern California exposed me to so much diversity. People from all over the world flock to the cities here, bringing their traditions, perspectives, and styles. My family loved to visit cultural events, festivals, and museums, plus we traveled all over North America, enriching my young mind. California also has a vibrant arts and crafts scene, which nurtured my creative tendencies. Outside the cities here, the land is alive with forests, fields, mountains, deserts, and ocean. As a girl, I spent my days playing in farm fields, showing horses in 4H, camping / hiking, exploring the natural world, and developing a deep appreciation for Mother Earth.

A foray into fashion
As a poor farm girl in a wealthy private school, I learned early on that fashion can build bridges or barriers between people – either uniting diverse backgrounds or delineating societal divides. That’s where I first started paying attention to style. As a teen in the '90s, self-expression and the art of fashion grew for me. I often transformed my clothes, sewing the sleeves from one top onto another or cutting up jeans into cute shorts. At 18, I took a 2-year fashion design course. I became intrigued with how people use many different materials to express themselves – fabric, leather, metal, wood, tattoo ink, etc. And, I realized that I especially love accessories, including jewelry. For a while, I even did alterations and crafted custom accessories for people out of my tiny downtown apartment.

The meandering career that led me here
My first legit business was a local new age gift shop called Enchanted Cottage. I sold crystals, candles, belly dance clothing, yoga supplies, meditation music, statuary, tapestries, jewelry, and lots of other fun and eclectic items from around the globe. I also consigned works from local artists, held raffles for various charities, hosted community events, and vended at fairs and festival. Then ‘08/09 brought winds of change. Like so many others displaced by the recession, off to college I went.

I majored in nutrition sciences and minored in kinesiology (the study of body movement). From there, I went on to work in the health and fitness field. As a certified American Council on Exercise trainer, I specialized in yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, and senior fitness. I absolutely loved working with clients and helping them improve their health, but the grind of spending every day driving from job to job wore me down. After a decade I knew I needed another change.

Back to school it was. I enrolled in a business degree program and, just for fun, started taking fashion design courses again. My love for style, sewing, and accessories was instantly rekindled. When 2020 brought COVID, I had to finish my degree at home. During this time, I decided I wanted to create my own hardware designs for accessories, like purse handles, buckles, etc. While looking for resources to learn metal casting, I discovered metal fabrication and was hooked!

Art, jewelry, and a new adventure
During the time when the world shut down, I was fortunate to find a local jewelry school who turned their classrooms into Zoom meetings where I explored techniques, styles, and materials. I found that I especially love working with silver and earthy gemstones in various ways. Remote learning led me to build my own workspace, which was the start of my studio today. And, when I graduated with a business degree in 2022, launching this brand seemed the next logical step.


"Clothes aren't going to change the world. The [people] who wear them are." – Anne Klein


Struggle & spiritual connection
Just like you, my life has been far from roses and sunshine (no matter how sunny it is in California). I’ve battled with plenty of personal issues including depression, anxiety, impostor syndrome, trauma, even addiction. It’s these parts of my journey that have brought me to deeper levels of understanding, healing, and spirituality. Not organized religion spiritual, but connecting to nature, contemplating the cosmos, and spending a lot of time meditating kind of spiritual. I’ve explored cultures, religions, and belief systems from around the world. I grew up Christian, spent several years in a Wiccan circle, attended meditations at a Buddhist temple, and participated in Indigenous ceremonies. All of these experiences influence my worldview, art, and how I connect with others.

Bringing it all together
I've merged all of the experiences and lessons from my past to build something new: VANDA inspired. It makes sense to combine my love of art, fashion, nature, and business together. But, that’s not the only purpose for this brand. It's incredibly important for me to be able to express my values in a way that supports positive progress in our world. This brand is about people – connection and community. This brand is about our planet – responsibility and sustainability. And, this brand is about process – art and craftsmanship.

That's the story behind VANDA Inspired. I would love to hear about your experiences and what brought you to this space in your life today. Share your own tales of self-discovery and self-expression in the comments below or feel free to reach out to me personally here.

Let's make our world beautiful, together!
Wanda @ VANDA inspired

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