Self-care can come in many forms and during our current times, we’re once again reminded the importance of taking a moment to focus on our well-being. ViolStones offers fashion accessories that allow you to combine mental wellness with fashion. Founder and Artisan of ViolStones, Brittany Hopwood describes how the concept of ViolStones came to fruition and how it helped her with her own self-care. Brittany is also a fellow contributor to Living in Oakland Park, so I took a moment to ask her a few questions about her art, her successful business and how she combined the two to make a living doing what she loves.
Brittany started ViolStones in 2016, after three years of learning how to make beaded jewelry, and in an effort to take control of her mental health. She credits 9Muses Art Center for the place where she found solace in making jewelry. It is a drop-in center located in Fort Lauderdale, for anyone dealing with mental health issues. Brittany shared that “The process of wrapping a stone for me is like either holding on to a positive idea or binding/immobilizing a negative thought.”
At the beginning of her pursuit, her stones of choice were, Rune Stones. Rune Stones are 24 ancient alphabetic symbols, where each symbol represents a message. The process of wrapping these stones was a way to understand their message. Eventually, because of the transformation within her own faith, Brittany applied this practice to focus more on her Christian faith-based messages and symbols.
There are many varieties of healing affirmations from which Brittany’s customers can choose. She reveals how amazing it is to witness a person gravitating toward a particular gemstone to later learn that this stone addresses their particular emotional struggle. Although all the crystals in her collection can be viewed as motivational and healing, Brittany explains that her most coveted affirmation theme is the one called “Grace”. She enjoys expressing to her consumers the meaning of this piece. She lights up when she gets to look someone in the eyes and tell them, “You are loved no matter what.” Brittany feels that people should both hear and know this more often and is surprised at the number of people that don’t inherently know that without a doubt.
As the sole designer of ViolStones, Brittany is passionate about each piece she designs and wraps. Each piece she makes can take her about 10-15 minutes to create. She does try to limit herself to creating 3-4 pieces at a time since the process to create the jewelry is labor-intensive and tends to take a toll on her hands. She explains that the bracelets take the most time (20-30 min), because of the seed beads, which are small beads that can be used in a variety of jewelry-making. And earrings take a while because it’s a duplicate.
However, her creativity does not stop there. “I’ve always been a highly creative person. I make quite a lot besides jewelry on my own time.” Aside from jewelry Brittany also offers polymer clay trinket dishes, custom design graphic tees, journals, and ballpoint feather pens. She likes to offer a variety of ‘fashion’ pieces because everyone expresses themselves differently. She stated “I try to keep everything in the same vein which is essentially self-care through fashion. So maybe you’re not into jewelry but you want to remind yourself to take your thoughts captive, the shirts and the dishes offer those motivational messages just like the jewelry does.”
ViolStones has experienced steady growth since its initial start in 2016 when Brittany worked on the business part-time and did it more as part of a hobby. Today, ViolStones products can be found at local markets and online at Etsy. While ViolStones’ customer base is mainly local (here in South Florida), her Etsy store allows her to reach customers across the US including CA and TX. The price points for the products are very reasonable starting at about $10 for rings and range to about $40 for more intricate items/designs.
Brittany is thrilled she’s been able to turn her passion and creativity into a prosperous business while combating the internal struggles of mental health into a source of beauty and encouragement for other people. “I’m most proud to be able to say I make a living as an artist with my brand and my vision.” In the future, Brittany hopes to build her business even more which would allow for her to not only host a location to display her products but also offer a space for people to come and find peace and creativity, where events centered on self-care through art and freedom of expression can also be held.
Brittany proclaims, “I can see this growing into a movement of sorts. Where people think about their fashion a little differently and their own thoughts a bit differently. We have the power to choose what we claim as ours in our heads, what we identify with or don’t. I just want to make people aware of that choice.”
Maria Scudella-Beltran was born and raised in Bergen County, New Jersey, right outside of New York City. She moved to South Florida in 2004 and graduated from Florida International University with a bachelors’ degree in Marketing and Communications.
In 2010, she purchased her first home in the North Andrews Gardens area in Oakland Park. After several years of working in the retail industry, Maria took on a part-time internship at a marketing agency and continued her education through Walden University where she earned her Master’s degree in Marketing and Communications.
Currently, she works in Marketing and during her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband and traveling.