Create Space is a monthly feature highlighting the work and stories of local artisans, crafters and innovators. Know someone who should be featured? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abrau Jewelry, crafted and designed in Milton, is adding the finishing touch to wardrobes across the country, including some in Hollywood.
In a room off her kitchen, Danielle Nicole Enright soders, beads, looms and packages nearly 40 orders of necklaces, bracelets and earrings a day.
In 2014, her red garnet necklace was featured on an episode of the CW’s “The Vampire Diaries,” and in the time since, her jewelry has only gotten more popular.
While many local artisans are struggling during the pandemic without the usual craft fairs and holiday markets, Enright said she’s actually seen her business grow in the last year, thanks to her knowledge of customer service and use of social media.
“I've just recently quadrupled my income, and it’s amazing to realize I do it all from my home,” she said.
Enright grew up in Swanton and graduated from Missisquoi Valley Union. After living in New York and Florida, she moved back to Vermont and now resides in Milton with her husband and three kids.
She cares about giving back to the community that has helped her many times over, and therefore donates a portion from every sale to charity.
“It's not really about money for me as much as it is about spreading hope and positivity,” she said.
Enright recently spoke to the Independent about the growth of her business, its future and her tips for other entrepreneurs.
Q: Tell me the origin story of Abrau Jewelry. When did it all start?
A: I started my business in 2011. I had lost my job, and I was having a lot of anxiety, so I was on the search for something to heal myself.
I started painting. My sister is a painter and my mom's an interior designer, so art kind of runs in our family. I started painting, but I'm not particularly good at it. And then I ended up just looking online to find something artistic and ran into a YouTube video on how to make a bohemian-style wrap bracelet.
I started making those, and I just found I was able to escape the anxiety a little bit. I put the bracelets I made on eBay and they sold within a few hours. I felt so proud of myself for making something someone actually wants. That gave the spark to continue, and I just started kind of slowly.
Q: How did Abrau begin to grow?
A: I started crafting loom bracelets, and I started an Etsy page and they kind of took off from there. Liebling, a clothing store in Burlington, started selling them. And then another store picked up my bracelets in Atlanta, Georgia. And so from there it kind of grew organically.
I joined a group called The Artisan Group, and that was a game changer. The woman who owns it, her name is Valerie. She lives in California and helps female small business owners by showing their work to celebrities and leaders in entertainment.
I sent her some of my jewelry and she added them to celebrities’ gift bags. That's how my jewelry ended up on Vampire Diaries. That made my business take off.
Q: Why did you transition from wrap and loom bracelets to fine jewelry?
A: The wrap bracelets took three hours per bracelet, so it was very hard to grow in a substantial way when I was spending so much time making the jewelry. I actually got very burnt out in 2014 and went on a hiatus. I felt so burnt out and I kind of had to re assess everything.
During that time, I realized I needed to make symbolic jewelry for people who are struggling, because I tend to have moments of anxiety too.
Q: Tell me more about that. How do you think your jewelry is helping people? Why is that an important part of your mission?
A: I'm an empath, so I notice when people are struggling, and I reach out to them and sometimes explain how healing gemstones were helpful to me and my growth and my healing from anxiety. I cope by using crystals.
Several years ago, I noticed this girl was struggling — she was going through depression — and I asked her if she wanted me to send her a necklace and she said, “Oh my god, that would be amazing.”
Afterwards, she sent me this card, and I keep it to this day. She said I literally saved her life because she was on the brink of giving up and because I showed that act of kindness, she ended up deciding to stick with it.
People's little messages are what keep me going. If someone is having a hard time letting go of somebody or was just in a breakup they tend to search for things that might help them get through. That's how people find me, and that's why I keep doing it, because it seems to help.
Q: How have you stayed successful during the pandemic?
A: I think, honestly, Instagram and social media. I never had any interest in using a lot of social media but it found me in a way, and I've made so many connections to people that I would never have met otherwise, and that's kind of a blessing, even though it's, it's very stressful sometimes. But yeah, I, I actually love it.
I also have a background in building websites, so I was able to build my own website and I know all about SEO. Pinterest is huge for me too.
My customers are also just very loyal. Interestingly, most of my customers are not from Vermont. Many people in Vermont don't even know that I exist and I'm not sure why, but I know my biggest selling state is Texas, followed by California.
Q: Do you have tips for other artisans or business owners who are just starting out?
A: We're not really in competition with each other as much as we think. I really support other artisans and other people who do the same exact thing as I do. I think that's super important to build a community and to support each other because there's so many customers out there and each one of you has your own design and your own personality and that's the most important thing.
Q: What’s next? Do you have goals for products or a vision for expanding?
A: I just sent a ton of jewelry to new TV shows that I'm hoping are picked up: “This Is Us” and “The Young and the Restless.”,
I'm always thinking of growing.That's how I cope with the anxiety of COVID — to just work constantly. I can't really grow anymore If I can't if I don't get help. The next step would be to hire on temporary or part time help. Right now, I usually use my kids.
Special thank you to the following local Vermont newspapers who also picked up this story: