With new locations and products, this local jewelry designer shows no signs of slowing down.
By Hannah J Phillips, Photos by Driely Carter
Local jewelry designer and metalsmith Nina Berenato is no stranger to the ebb and flow of an entrepreneurial lifestyle. As a child, she saw her father start new businesses all the time, everything from home-improvement companies to those focused on medical-device sales.
“I watched him succeed, then fail, succeed, then fail,” she says, “but he always just got back up, so I knew what I was getting in to. He always had a new idea.”
Berenato always has new ideas too, which she keeps in a Google spreadsheet called “Nina’s Master Plan,” crossing items off one by one. This month, she crossed “second location” off her list, bringing her Airstream trailer to the Mueller neighborhood. The refurbished 1959 Bambi trailer, from which she launched Nina Berenato Jewelry in 2015, now displays her unique pieces while parked across from the Alamo Drafthouse in the Aldrich Outdoor Market, a recent incentive to introduce local vendors to the neighborhood.
This new location comes just months after Berenato’s permanent brick-and-mortar space opened on Palm Way at Domain Northside in April. After a successful temporary pop-up in the Domain ended earlier this year, the move to a bigger space gave Berenato and her female-driven team the freedom to not only grow the business, but to also provide a platform for other local makers. The shop hosts public workshops, displays the work of artists-in-residence and allows Berenato to teach her craft to aspiring designers in the production area.
The chance to openly display her production space in the store is an added bonus, showcasing the story behind each design.
“We don’t have to teach people why our jewelry is different because they can look right back there and see where it’s made,” Berenato explains.
As if two new locations weren’t enough to cross off Nina’s Master Plan for 2018, Berenato also launched a line of affirmation candles in April, the same night as the Domain store opening. The desire to expand beyond jewelry was always part of the vision, and the candles came from her own practice of making daily affirmations leading up to the store’s launch party.
“I was always reminding myself not to hesitate, not to stop, not to give up,” she says. “So, when I got the desire to make the candles, I wanted to tie it into the things that matter to me and what the store stands for.”
Made from a mixture of soy and paraffin, the clean-burning candles are hand-poured into 11-ounce jars with labels from local artist Seeds Then Roots. The three scents are Berenato’s powerful reminders to women that they are Limitless (lemon and lavender), Radiant (apricot, black currant and passion fruit) and Fearless (tobacco, bergamot and ylang-ylang).
“Your sense of smell is so connected to your brain and your thoughts,” Berenato says. “So, in the morning, you can physically light your affirmation. While the scent fills up your room, it puts you in this fearless, limitless and radiant place.”
By the end of July, Berenato hopes to launch a yoga-mat spray to accompany the candles, enabling women to carry those same affirmations beyond their morning rituals. Everything Berenato creates is with that aim, to make her customers feel beautiful and powerful and be the best versions of themselves.
With her business easily known as one of Austin’s most recognizable jewelry brands, Berenato claims the secret to her success was figuring out what she wanted to say and making sure everything she does is in line with that mission.
“With my jewelry, I want to use my design eye to help women feel like they’re putting on a piece of armor,” she says. “I also want to support my community and use my voice to make other women feel supported and happy.”
Between her two new locations, community workshops, female-driven team and her products themselves, there seems to be no limit to the fearless ways Berenato will continue to shine her light in Austin.