Like many creative professionals working a stable 9-to-5 job, Lana Lepper had a creative side business. With a background in biology, working a lucrative role in the beer industry, she took a complete 180 from her day job and began focusing her time, energy, and passion into making jewelry for her handcrafted jewelry brand LanaBetty (Betty was the name of her cat) instead.
“Bored, I started to learn a hobby. I thought that jewelry making would be a fun endeavour, because it was so far from the biology and sciences way of thinking I had grown accustomed to.” – Lana Lepper
Keep reading, to learn more about Lana’s creativity behind LanaBetty, adaptations she made during Covid, and what supporting local means to her.
Q: How did you make the leap from your corporate 9-to-5 to running your jewelry business full time?
Five years into making jewelry, several hundred craft shows and a few websites later, I found myself at a crossroads. I could keep going with my corporate life, where it was safe. I had a good income and knew my role. I even had direct reports and managed a small team. It was what I was good at. Or, I could take the leap and see if all this hype about living your daydream was worth it. I knew it would be one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced and well, I did it! I officially took the leap to make my hobby into my full-time gig in 2015 and I haven’t looked back or regretted it once. I’m so glad I chose my passion.
Q: How would you describe the style of your designs?
My style tends to be detail-oriented, linear, and fun. I find that when I’m not trying to conform my designs to a specific theme or topic, I can really create something fun. I really love creating loose representations of ideas or topics, play with or inhibit motion, and always, challenge people’s perspectives on how jewelry can be made.
Q: Where do you find your inspiration?
Look around – we are in one of the most amazing cities and locations in the world for inspiration. The city is rich with art deco and modern architecture that I could soak up for days and days. We’re just a stone’s throw, literally, from the ocean. I can glimpse the north shore mountains from a corner of my studio. It sounds cliche to say that I am inspired by my surroundings, and it’s true. I love to wander and explore and doodle all the little details I see.
Q: Where did you learn how to make jewelry?
While I had already done the university thing to get my biology degree, the idea of going back to school for jewelry fundamentals didn’t make much sense to me. I have a mortgage in one of the most expensive cities in the world and stopping my business for a full-time course load wasn’t that appealing either.
Much of what I have learned has been a culmination of trial and error, youtube videos, and asking the professionals. I’ve taken many weekend courses, and just last year I travelled to Tennessee (just before the lockdown) to study stone setting from one of the masters. I can’t wait to go back for another two week intensive.
Q: What’s your most popular or best-selling piece of jewelry?
Lately my more popular pieces have been my layering necklaces – Horizon, Libra, and Virgo. They all have ethically sourced, hand-cut gemstones set in them. The gemstones are so flattering on any neckline and I love that they can be layered in such amazing ways.
Q: How about your favourite piece to make?
My favorite piece to make isn’t exactly a piece exactly, it’s been working with 14k gold for custom pieces. This last year has been such a rollercoaster. Instead of offering less expensive pieces or selling myself short, I doubled down and wanted to tell the world that I can set diamonds and work with gold. It has been so much fun too! I’ve had the honor of putting together a handful of engagement rings, anniversary rings, and a few custom pieces from gold that are just absolutely special and definitely challenging all the skills and training I’ve combined over the years. I just can’t wait to continue to grow my skills and experience and really show the world what I am capable of.
Q: Why is supporting local important to you?
I definitely wouldn’t be who I am without the amazing support of other crafters, makers, and small business enthusiasts like myself. By supporting small, I can use my voice to show others how great local and small business can be too. It’s even evolved into a side business for me. I want to help small businesses feel confident in their idea and show them that they can grow too. I love to guide and support these makers because when you shop small and local, you know that your dollars are going direct to grow someone’s livelihood, to put food on their plate. It isn’t inflating some strangers’ overall net worth, and that, to me, matters.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with Modern Mix Vancouver readers?
I’d love to share my gratitude. I just love doing what I do, no matter how dusty or dirty or long hours I work. Being in charge of my own destiny, even in these crazy covid-times has been such an amazing experience, and despite all the stress, there is nothing else I would rather be doing. Thank you for all of your support and shares and likes and purchases. Choosing to support small has such a direct impact on my little world and I appreciate each and everyone who stops by and says hello.