Meet meat meet Vera from VeraMeat
I met Vera Balyura outside Hemingway & Pickett, a store in LA’s Silver Lake district that is run, funnily enough, by an Australian (owner Toby Burke Hemingway is from Melbourne). The store was hosting a trunk show for her label VeraMeat, and the slender, hauntingly beautiful designer was at the door personally to greet guests with her gorgeous companion Fred (a girl, by the way).
Fascinated by her quirky jewellery, I nabbed her for a few quick questions. She was lovely, and I cannot say enough how much I’ve fallen in love with her pieces. I mean c’mon guys - a dinosaur eating fried chicken? ‘Sif not cool.
So you’re a jewellery designer. How did you start?
I started off making things for myself. I was modelling at the time, and I’ve always made stuff with my grandfather, like miniatures and stuff so I just wanted to just make things for myself that I kind of wanted to wear. And then a stylist saw some of my stuff and she was like, ‘Oh’, you know, ‘I’d love to feature this’. And she worked with Nylon a lot and so she said ‘You really need to make a line,’ and so I did, and I sent it to her and they ended up featuring me so it was really great.
It’s just something I enjoy doing for myself and I kind of then got into the swing and it grew and grew and grew and now I have a store in Manhattan and other stores like this (Hemingway and Pickett) carry my stuff.
Are you originally from New York?
Yeah. Well I was born in Europe but I grew up in New York. I’ve lived there for over ten years, I went to school there and everything but yeah, I come to LA a lot and my sister lives here and I need excuses to come here.
Yeah? Why do you like LA?
I like the weather the most.
Funny, that’s what most people say about Australia.
It’s so good. I’ve actually been to Sydney and I love it, I like the ibises and the bats in the park, it’s very inspiring. Fred looks like a little bat so…
Is Fred your only pet?
She is, I used to have a little bluebird with a red belly, it was really interesting and I used to just let it fly around and I had the window open and it would leave and everything and then about a year and a half after I had it, it was just sitting on the windowsill and it was kind of like looking at it me and I could tell it waslike, ‘Can I go?’ and I was like, ‘You can go if you want.’ So he went outside, and then he came back every few months to visit me.
Oh! Do you still see him?
Well that was when I was in Brooklyn and now I’ve moved to Manhattan so…
He’s probably gone back and seen new people in your apartment and been like, ‘Who is this?’
I know. He doesn’t see me anymore. But he was such a beautiful, beautiful little treasure.
So have you always loved animals?
Yeah I have, especially unique animals or animals that I feel like me pick me. I have a lot of weird animal stories.
Well animals, like even really mean dogs that don’t like anyone, they really like me. And for some reason they’re very calm around me.
Like me and my friend went to this insane asylum just to check it out and it was closed [but] we went to take photos, and one of the family members of the family that watched it - he used to be in the asylum, he stuttered and had a lot of issues - he was there by himself …
He came with this huge pit bull on a chain and the pit bull was just barking ‘ar, ar, ar,’ and then he let it go off the leash and it ran towards us, but it went right past me towards my friend and my friend was terrified with his hands up and I was like, ‘It’s okay, come here,’ and he just sat next to me, like super calm.
It’s fun. I don’t know why it is, but it just is.
So animals are where you get most of your inspiration from?
Well, I just make things I want for myself, mostly.
And where does the ‘meat’ in VeraMeat come from?
Yeah, the meat comes from me laughing [while] walking near the BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in New York) after work and thinking, ‘What’s honest, that I love [and] yet think is funny?’ ‘Meat’ came to mind as it’s something hard to like these days as being vegan is the politically correct thing yet my body type doesn’t allow that nor does my blood type. Long story short, I just thought ‘VeraMeat’ and started laughing. Then I knew I would have to stick with it.
Also, my company is the ‘meatier’ side of jewelry - more interesting subject matter and better materials.
[And some] fun news - Werner Herzog the director just picked up a VeraMeat Edward Scissorhand necklace for good luck!