FASHION - INTERVIEW
Friday, July 6, 2018
Vanacci Co-Founder Ryan Ward
FASHION - INTERVIEW
by Beren Dere
Vanacci is combining Italian style and innovative technics to make a difference and bring a modern look to men's accessories. The Minimalist Carbon Wallet was the first product to bring success to Vanacci. When they invented Lockstone by a happy accident, it was opened a new gate and this material made Fragrance Jewellery possible. I talked to Vanacci Co-Founder Ryan Ward, to learn more about the company's early days, Lockstone technology, Fragrance Jewellery and its future.
Ryan, before start to talking about Vanacci and your innovative pendants and bracelets, please tell us about your background and industry experiences?
Personally, I'm not from a design background. At university, I was on a music technology course, buried in a studio most days. Being a student, fashion, jewellery and design-led products just didn't matter to me. Ironically, I shared a building with the fashion design students, who we never interacted with.
Once I'd graduated, I tried my hand at a variety of sound engineering related jobs. For a little while, I worked in the film industry but I was paid very infrequently and getting nowhere. So I resigned myself to something steadier: retail. After a couple of years in retail, I got a phone call from two guys from university who I still had semi-regular contact with. They wanted me to interview for a sales role. Five years later, here we are.
It was a real baptism of fire. We initially had investors on board and we were doing completely different work to what we started with Vanacci. But I hit the ground running by doing plenty of research, knowing my stuff and being willing to engage with people. I was able to approach all of our ideas from a non-design perspective, which gave me the ability to view our products like someone who has never heard of us, doesn't know what the product is and needs to be convinced of its value.
Could you tell us about Vanacci?
In late 2014, after we finished our project with the investors, we decided to try something completely different. September 1st, the idea of a wallet was presented to me. Over the past year or so, we'd seen a lot of wallets on Kickstarter and figured we could try and take advantage of the opportunity. We scrambled together a Kickstarter campaign which we launched at the end of the month and the money we raised went straight into setting up the business.
Since then, we've adhered to the same design principles as we applied to the first product we had: minimal aesthetic, handmade and high quality. Now, with our jewellery, watches, and lines of bags, sunglasses and other wallets coming on board, we've developed a wide range of designs that adhere to the core tenets of our company identity.
We're a small team, which allows us to react quickly to new trends, new ideas and be flexible around production processes and working with new materials. We've gone from operating on two people part-time in a flat to significant new premises with greater workshop space, photo/video studio and office area.
How did you decide to develop Fragrance Jewellery? What inspired you? What is the role of Lockstone in your designs?
History would remember it as a happy accident. We were toying aorund with some new materials, different combinations, and densities when we struck upon a formula that didn't want to dry out. Initially, this was a problem but we soon realised there was an opportunity. An off the cuff remark of ‘wouldn't it be great if it held perfume?' soon became the basis of the Lockstone line. Looking back into history, we took the concept of the pomander (a traditional method of perfuming oneself, often in a jewellery format) and brought it into the 21st Century with Lockstone.
Again, we wanted to maintain our minimal aesthetic, so we developed a range of simple, elegant necklaces that formed the first part of the Lockstone range, which we took to Kickstarter. To date, the Lockstone campaign has been our most successful and has spawned new lines in the form of bracelets, cufflinks and a variety of new necklaces and pendants.
As Lockstone is so versatile, we can form it to almost any shape, within reason. This makes it a perfect material to quickly create new products. With that in mind, we can create jewellery that suits many tastes, from our original minimalist One range to the planetary inspired Solaris bracelets, we're fortunate to have such a versatile material to work with which helps focus our designs and realise new products.
What are the features and advantages of Lockstone Pendants and Bracelets?
The primary feature of the Lockstone pendants and bracelets is the ability for them to absorb fragrance. Once absorbed, the fragrance will diffuse as you wear the jewellery, allowing to last longer than if worn on the skin directly. With this, we hope people will be able to enjoy their favorite fragrances for even longer and hopefully save themselves some money in the long term.
Are they compatible with all type of fragrances?
Our Nightfall range is the first to feature pendants that are compatible with essential oils. The vast majority of Lockstone jewellery is designed to be used with alcohol-based fragrances, which amount for most store bought spray perfumes, colognes and so on. After much demand, we managed to develop a range of pendants, Nightfall, that can accommodate both essential oils and alcohol-based fragrance.
How many different Fragrance Jewellery designs do you offer? Do you have any new sketches on the drawing table?
We always have new ideas in the pipeline, especially as the Lockstone material is so versatile and easy for us to work with and design for. At present, we have over sixty different items in our jewellery range, catering for a wide variety of styles and tastes.
Please tell us briefly about your product range. What type of different design products do you have in your collection?
The very first range, the One range, was a our minimal start point. Designed for one fragrance, it includes a series of simple pendants in steel, copper and brass and a bracelet of black stones. We then added the Plus range, which provides extra stones that can be removed so you can use more than one fragrance. From there, we added the Geo range, introducing geometric shapes inspired by rock formations and minerals. Then came Solaris, a series of bracelets featuring the planets and inspired by the Solar System. After this point, we have added the Nightfall range, Raw Earth, Aztec, Geo and Prima bracelets, along with the occasional limited edition model.
Social media is an indispensable part of our life. How do you use social media for marketing? What social media platforms do you prefer?
Since day one, we've used Facebook as our primary marketing platform. Our ability to reach so many people and the accuracy of the targetting that Facebook provides means it has been an invaluable tool for the development of our business. More recently, we've used Instagram and YouTube to great effect, working with influencers for reviews and exposure which has generated a great deal of traffic and revenue for us.
How can our readers buy Vanacci designs?
All our designs are available to purchase directly from our site, Vanacci.com
What are your future plans for the Vanacci?
We're fascinated with the possibilities that 3D printing can bring to the world of wallets and we're revisiting previous designs with a view to re-releasing some and also adding in new elements to our current offering. We'll be expanding into the world of bags as part of a summer travel range and we've recently introduced wooden sunglasses to our store, which have been very popular. With that in mind, we're taking a serious look at renewable and sustainable fashion, using natural materials which are easily replenished and recycling material to minimise waste and impact on the environment.
Anything you would like to add that I haven't asked?
Just to say thank you for taking the time to talk with me and that I've greatly enjoyed the questions.
Thank you Ryan.