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Avery Callan designs success with jewelry brand she launched in high school

"If it’s my dream career — even just for now — why would I interrupt that? I might go to college later or online, but right now, I’m seeing where life takes me"
Credit: SLBJ

ST. LOUIS — Avery Callan may have just graduated from high school this spring — but the 18-year-old already has several years of business experience under her belt.

Callan launched her jewelry brand — called Nova Vita — when she was just a sophomore in high school to help pay for a car. The brand has been doing so well that Callan decided to forgo college and will instead focus on Nova Vita for the time being.

“If it’s my dream career — even just for now — why would I interrupt that?” she said. “I might go to college later or online, but right now, I’m seeing where life takes me.” 

Callan currently works out of her home in the Holly Hills neighborhood and has seen an uptick in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, she’s streamlining her jewelry-making process and hopes that one day she can sell her work in a brick-and-mortar space.

Why did you launch your jewelry brand — Nova Vita? It was a slow buildup, but I started my sophomore year of high school by selling vintage clothing at first. I needed to buy a car. I started walking to a Goodwill store near my house to get clothes and I made a little photo studio in my room. I would fix those clothes up, photograph them and sell them online. It was a lot of fun and worked for a while. I did a little pop-up event in Maplewood at a furniture store there and I started looking into doing more of that, but I realized I needed to be more careful with what I was bringing to places. I thought jewelry would be easier to transport and I always wanted to try it. During my holiday break from school in December 2018, I started playing around with clay and made some things. It was pretty well received and I slowly transitioned out of clothes to that.

How is your jewelry made? I usually stick to polymer clay. I’ll do some add-ins sometimes — like chalk or rock to mix in and give it some extra texture. You can also go the other way and make a paste substance out of clay, which I haven’t done a whole lot of. It’s a pretty long process. I mix all of my colors by hand because I hate using them out of the package because then they’re not unique. You have to mix the colors, roll the clay and shape it, and then cut it, bake it and put it all together. I try to do it in batches so I bake multiple things at a time. 

Do you only make earrings? I mostly stick to earrings because that is just what has worked for me so far. I’ve done some necklaces and key chains and little trinkets like that. I did coasters at some point. I’m experimenting more in the home decor area now because I’ve always loved interior design. I know that jewelry won’t be a lifelong thing so sometimes I think maybe I should go in a different direction, like home decor. But it’s hard to create something that large and still keep it really high quality. 

Where do you get your inspiration? I get inspiration intentionally and unintentionally — and mostly from nature. I love spending time outside and just looking at the way light hits things. Natural elements really inspire me. Architecture for sure though, too. Whether that’s local buildings or stuff I see online. 

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