Callista by Vinita: Goodbye Corporate, Hello Couture Jewelry

Vinita Navale chose “the road less taken,” leaving her home country behind in pursuit of her passion for jewelry design. Her company, Callista by Vinita, offers gorgeous fine jewelry that is accessible to every woman. Read along as she talks to Pietra Communications about her journey, from the corporate world to creative design.

What pushed you to leave the corporate world behind, in order to pursue your interest in jewelry?
I’ve always been an ardent fan of individual freedom, and inclined towards creativity from a very young age. If I have to talk particularly about jewelry, I remember going to a jewelry store with my mom and closely observing everything around me—especially paying attention to the instructions my mom would give for her own custom-made pieces. My love for jewelry design started from there, but I didn’t realize it until later. My educational degree and circumstances propelled me into the corporate world, but the desire to make my mark in the creative field remained to be achieved. The artist within me always kept pushing me… soon to realize a love and passion for jewelry and gemstones. In 2010, I took a bold step to pursue my dream and attained a degree in jewelry design, moving to the U.S. with my family. I continued to enrich my knowledge, and subsequently got a diploma from the Gemological Institute of America, enhancing my skills further through the New York Jewelry Design Institute.

Why do you think choosing “the road less taken” has been key in your journey as a designer?
I’ve always chosen to be the hero of my own story. Following the crowd was never for me. I decided to carve my own path in life, which is how Callista came to be. Callista represents a bold choice that I made to leave a corporate life behind to pursue my creative interests at a stage in life where you are in a comfort zone, and doing well in your personal and professional life. The right to choose your own path, shape your own destiny, and be the hero of your own story was something that I always wanted. That was why I left a successful and comfortable corporate career behind to embark on my dream of being a jewelry designer.

What influenced you to move to the United States? Where are you from originally?
Moving to the U.S. was never on my list; it just happened. But as they say, you can’t change your destiny. After getting married in 2008, my husband’s job brought us here. I originally come from Nasik, a small town in the western part of India. I was brought up in a family with traditional Indian values and principals.

What was the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome, and how does it continue to motivate you to this day?
Hmm… I wouldn’t call it an obstacle, but I would say there were many challenges. Everything was new for me when I moved to the U.S. I had left my family and moved to a completely new place with my husband and my baby. There was an initial struggle involved in settling down in a new place where you don’t know anyone. It’s the passion and love for my work, the future that I want for my kids, and a life that I want to spend with my husband, that keeps me going and motivated.

Can you tell us a little bit about your process when designing jewelry?
Designing is therapy for me. I need to be in my happy place mentally and physically when I’m working on a new collection, or designing a piece. I feel every design needs to have a definite language. The art of designing jewelry is inspired by many emotions, the desire for beauty and the need for acceptance. I start with a mood board, of thought and inspiration behind a collection, and take it from there. Most of my inspirations come from nature, but are not subjected to it. I feel nature has endless things to get inspired by.

Can you explain how you express individual freedom in your pieces?
Individual freedom, to me, is being myself and being perfectly imperfect. Through my designs I’m able to express it. Bold personal pieces with an eclectic edge are inspired by nature, vintage glamour, and luxurious colors and textures. The pieces are designed for original women who consider themselves eclectic, and demand a personal touch in every detail. I want to give that feeling to women who wear my pieces— who adore standing out from the crowd, and reclaim their place in the spotlight with jewelry that speaks to their life story.

What was the first piece of jewelry you ever designed? Has your style changed since then?
The first piece I designed was an interesting Mermaid pendant, which has a fishtail combined with a floral motif, which will soon be a part of the collection. I was always fascinated by mermaids as a kid, and even now. There is something mysterious, but beautiful about them. I don’t think my style has changed since then. Coming from India and having the rich Indian cultural heritage, I was always drawn towards designing contemporary jewelry, and not in the traditional Indian style. I wanted to design jewelry which is more versatile, and can be styled with any Indian or western outfit.

Your “Merci” collection exclusively benefits the No Kid Hungry organization with 100% of the proceeds being donated. Can you talk to us about how this collection came to be?
So this was during the peak of the pandemic around April, when the world was turning upside down for many of us. There were the frontline warriors, and then there were these kids who were impacted the most. As a mother of two, I was deeply affected and moved by the plight of many children across this country who would be going without a proper meal, and in many cases, their only meal due to school closures caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Merci was created with the thought and intention to show gratitude towards all these warriors who were working fearlessly day and night. At the same time, funds raised would go to No Kid Hungry, as schools were closed. Now, as we see the situation hasn’t changed completely, I have decided to continue with the collection and do my bit to help.

Can you tell us what inspired you to create your “Pearl of Andaman” collection? What is your relationship with Phuket, specifically the beaches in this collection?
Okay! So Phuket plays a very special part in my life. This was my very first collection, and that’s one of the reasons it has a special place in my heart, and secondly because of my relationship with Phuket. The Phuket trip was my honeymoon. It was the first time I travelled with my husband, newly wedded and my first international trip, all was pretty exciting.

I had never thought I would come up with my first collection inspired by this trip. But it’s the beauty of the island, and every minute spent in Phuket, that keeps me attached to it and will last with me forever. Inspired by pristine beaches of Phuket, the Pearl of Andaman collection was born. The reflective opulence of the green seas is breathtaking. The setting sun burnishes the sky with red and gold, making the sunsets over the waters off the island of Phuket mesmerizing. It reminds me of the long days and evening spent at the beach. Phuket’s culture is centered around its resplendent temples, warm sunsets and pristine beaches.

Has anyone helped you in your dream to become a designer? How have you honored them in your designs?
There are a few people who play a very important role in where I’m today. They have been a big support and motivation and a part of my journey. One of them is Jenine Lepera Izza, who is the Founder & Director of New York Jewelry Design Institute. She plays a major role in how and why Callista was born. She has been a mentor in my early days, when I was new in the country and to the jewelry Industry. And then it’s my husband, without whom nothing was possible. He let me go, live, and accomplish my dream of becoming a jewelry designer. Till now I haven’t honored them in my designs, but I will when the time is right for me to do it.

Your brand focuses on the strength, beauty, and individuality of women all around the world. In particular, which woman do you admire the most? Who inspires you?
Women who push boundaries, and inspire the world with their sheer grit, always inspire me. I believe that true beauty comes from empowered women who embrace their own raw individuality, like the fine cut of a gorgeous gemstone. The one who embraces all her flaws and imperfections is the one who brings out her inner diva, and is someone I admire.

You mention that your jewelry is unique and accessible to every woman. Can you elaborate on what that means?
When I started Callista, the thought was to create jewelry which is bespoke, made with the same attention to details as fine jewelry, but affordable and accessible to every woman. I love couture and high jewelry. I wanted to create something between high end couture and fashion jewelry. Then Callista happened, a bridge jewelry brand which is original, unique, bespoke, and affordable at the same time. I wanted to create affordable luxury, so it’s accessible to every woman. For women who love personal collectible jewelry that makes them feel inspired, unique and beautiful.

Callista by Vinita exhibits the strength, beauty, and individuality of women all around the world in her designs. To continue to follow Vinita Navale’s inspiring journey with Callista by Vinita, visit https://www.callista.biz/ as well her Instagram @callistabyvinita.

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