We spoke with Lauren Richardson, founder of a jewelry company named Radiance and Romance. Lauren shared her insights on the challenges and excitement of starting a business and her passion for art and creation.
How did your background influence your academic and career pursuits?
I grew up in Baltimore County, and I went to a really small school that focused a lot on the arts, which influenced my artistic career. I had an amazing art teacher in elementary school who taught classes outside of school at her house, and from then on, I always wanted to be an artist. I went to the Maryland Institute College of Art, and I studied interdisciplinary sculpture. However, in high school, I took my first jewelry class and completely fell in love with it. I’ve always had a personal and intimate connection with jewelry, and it’s something that gives me confidence when I put it on. From that point on, I knew I was going to be a jeweler, and, in college. it was fun to take interdisciplinary sculpture classes because I was able to do larger scale metal work. Metal was always my medium of choice, and, as I got older, I explored more sculptural art.
How did Radiance and Romance develop once you graduated from school?
I was pretty afraid to start my own business after graduating college. I’m not a risk taker so I felt the safe route into the art world was teaching. I had taught art classes to younger children and really enjoyed these experiences. But after an art education class in college, I realized that I wasn’t really interested in teaching in public schools that have a lot of regulations and structure. I wanted more freedom, and so I started working for an anti-hunger organization in Baltimore City, where I found myself working in nonprofits. Even though I was working for causes I believed in, I ended up being unhappy in a typical 9-to-5 office job. So about a year ago, I took a leap of faith and decided to start Radiance and Romance. Working in the non-profit space was definitely valuable, as it provided me with a lot of experience and tools that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Can you tell me about Radiance and Romance?
Radiance and Romance is my own jewelry company. I’ve always had a strong connection with jewelry and found sentimental value in certain pieces, and I wanted to share those same feelings with other women. It’s very important to me to not just make a beautiful line of jewelry, but to put an empowering message of self-love and confidence behind it and celebrate strength, femininity, and natural beauty.
I want women to feel confident and to love themselves for who they are, and I hope that I can make these pieces that are reminders to women that they can let their true self sparkle. Each of my pieces are one of a kind. I make anodized titanium jewelry.
Titanium is a reactive metal. When I run electricity through it a thin layer of oxide forms on the surface that interferes with the way light reflects off the surface, in turn reflecting a rainbow of colors. I electrify my paintbrush and paint designs on titanium, which makes each piece totally unique. Each piece of jewelry has an empowering message of self-love.
What inspired the name, Radiance and Romance?
My work is very elegant and graceful. I’ve always been a very feminine princess-loving girl, and my work embodies that femininity. I also love combining that with the dichotomy of titanium (hard, industrial metal). At the craft fairs, people are afraid to touch the pieces because they looked so delicate, but they are shocked to discover that the pieces are very light, comfortable, and durable.
What challenges have you faced starting your own business?
It’s always a balancing act, trying to balance life outside of your work. I work way more now than I did when I was working in a full-time job. It’s also challenging balancing the business side of things with the creation side, and transitioning between the two because they are very different ways of thinking. I’m also an introvert, so having to put myself and my work out there has been very scary and challenging.
How do you strike a balance between your personal life and your career?
I try to stick to a schedule. I like to work out a lot (I do aerial yoga and I also dance), and I also tell myself to make a priority that holidays are when I can take days off. I don’t have working hours, so I typically work all day, but I enjoy keeping a schedule.
What have been some of the most exciting aspects to starting your own business?
The whole process has been exciting. There have been many ups and downs but being able to do something that I’m passionate about and working for myself is liberating. I found a certain kind of freedom in being able to take the company in the direction that I want to go, using my personal values and deciding how I want to spend my time.
What are some next steps for Radiance & Romance?
Right now, we are mostly online and do holiday events in the fall. Moving into 2020, I’d like to get into some doors and do more in-person events. I love talking to people and engaging with people at the holiday markets. I am hoping to do more of that and to also expand into making other jewelry items, such as rings and bracelets. Eventually, I would love to work with stores and find different ways to get my name out there
What does it mean for you to be powerful and confident?
I think being powerful is about loving yourself for everything that makes you unique and special. As I’ve grown, I’ve learned to appreciate the things that made me different. I believe that if we could all appreciate that in ourselves and others, we could build stronger connections in a more accepting world.