New York City’s East Village is known for its dive bars, vintage clothing shops, delicious restaurants and old-school record stores, which is why it’s no surprise that Verameat is smack dab in the middle of it all.
Tucked away in the Ukrainian Village, an enclave of the East Village, Verameat may look unassuming from the outside, but inside it’s rich with history and pure artistry. At first glance, you’ll notice beautiful, dainty pieces of jewelry hanging from plaster hands and rings laid out in trays. Yet upon further notice, you’ll realize that the pieces themselves are far from ordinary. A closer look reveals daggers, swords, brains and grenades – things obviously not often associated with jewelry. The pieces are reminiscent of those in Monopoly, but Vera Balyura’s designs are much more intricate than a thimble and a race car, and quite frankly, way cooler.
The designer and former model grew up in Ukraine and moved to the United States when she was six years old, first to New York City then to Salt Lake City. In Salt Lake, she didn’t fit in as a short Jewish girl who wore suspenders and bow ties. She also didn’t understand boyfriends as romance and thought “you just hung out and told jokes.” Yet at 14, she grew five inches and was discovered by a modeling scout. Over the next four years, she lived in Paris, Italy and New York, and was featured in Vogue Italia. She also landed deals with Calvin Klein and Armani… So naturally, she quit. The teenager didn’t like authority, although I don’t think many do.
From there, Vera began taking classes at the International Center of Photography in NYC, where she discovered that she was interested in jewelry design. After a fine arts jewelry friend told her she shouldn’t bother with college and should start selling her pieces, she felt like he might be on to something. Just one week into her business, a fashion editor at Nylon called about featuring one of her necklaces in the magazine.
As for the name? “It was a week into my business, and Nylon magazine said they wanted to feature me. I was craving steak, so I thought, ‘Verameat it is!’”
Verameat’s designs are eerie but elegant, whimsical but detailed and definitely unique – in the best possible way. After all, you don’t gain celeb clientele like Khloe Kardashian, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza and Chloë Sevigny for nothing. Oh, and even the girls of Girls rocked a few pieces on the show.
Vera said, “I want each piece to be a story, to say something about you, so that if your kids or family looked at it one day, it would remind them of you.”