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Designer and goldsmith Lana Lepper grew up in the heart of the Okanagan, in the olden days when we didn’t lock our doors at night.

“The only time I knew to come home in the evenings was when the sun set between the mountains. I had a wide range, free to ride my bike as far as 15km away to swim in the next lake over. I built forts in trees, fished on the weekends, and pillaged the neighbors garden for raspberries and snap peas. I was studious though, as I grew – questioning the way of things, the status quo. Into high school I realized the only way I was going to get out of my sleepy town was to work hard.”

And work hard she does. Her company LanaBetty already has a significant loyal customer following, but Lana says they’re really just getting started as they continue to expand their reach. Their collections are evolving – participating in exhibits and design events where Lana can create pieces that really challenge the way people perceive jewelry making and the ways metals can flow and bend. She’s excited this fall to be attending the Interior Design Show (IDS Vancouver).

“I create art pieces for the show, small batch, and let the architects and interior designers be the judges.”

Growing up, Lana was intensely creative, opting to take extra credits of art, woodworking, and metal art and instead taking some of her required classes by correspondence. At the same time, she felt like the only way to strongly define her future was through secondary education and with that physics, biology, biochemistry, and a strong thirst for knowledge.

“I have always been of two minds – it’s really now, as I have been digging into my artistic passions, that I have learned they really are the same stream. When I graduated university, and began ‘real work’ I found the challenge was no longer there. I landed a pretty sweet gig performing quality analysis for one of the largest wineries in the Okanagan. There are only so many times you can walk the same path in the laboratory before each step feels repetitive – like making laps in quicksand.”

It was late 2009 when a coworker and friend suggested to Lana that she learn something new. Six years later she took the leap to practice design full time.

“I think about walking back into a lab now and the spark just isn’t there. When I think about sitting down at my bench to melt metal and set gemstones I am giddy – full on passionate.”

Her pieces are unique, geometric, stunningly individual and tasteful. Cultivating her designs with her specific practice and process are what sets this visionary and designer apart. It’s exciting to see her imaginative and original 3D creations develop from concept to product. And in a world saturated by movers and makers, Lana considers originality incredibly important.

“With 3D design it is unique in the way that three designers could be given a single word to design, “apple” and we all may design three entirely different pieces. A 3D design lets me be completely free. The only limitations are my imagination, the physical limitations of the process, and my ability to design. To stay original, I draw, a lot. I fill notebooks with designs, doodles, and I date everything. I guess that comes from my work in biology – proving your work and the timelines is always key, but the drawings are also a recipe – a guide for me to re-make designs again and again.”

Lana reveals that her biggest factor contributing to formalizing a design is, in fact, failure.

“I draw a lot. I throw a lot of designs at the proverbial chalkboard to see what sticks. I may take 10 designs to prototype stage and maybe only one will actually be a part of one of my collections. I feel like each time I try and fail I learn more about myself, my creative process, and the rules which define 3D design and jewelry making.”

You can easily tell her craft is fitting and resonates in her discoveries and exploration of the type of materials she enjoys working with.

“I am a big cheerleader for sterling silver. Something about the metal – I just get it. How much heat to add to melt metal, the texture as I file it – it is a dream to work with. It is a reasonable price and if cared for, can last a lifetime. As for gemstones, I love them all. I am a magpie for sparkly gems. My favorites are labradorite, lapis lazuli, rainbow moonstone, and rutile quartz.”

Her passion also stems from collaborating with other creatives. She admits that collaborations are the lifeblood of business these days.

“The way that social media is always needing new and exciting and beautiful content to rise above all the noise, it is equally important to cross promote, share the spotlight, and lift others up because their success is also our success.”

“It’s fun to dream and wax poetically about jewelry design – but the bottom line is that I am an entrepreneur and the only way I am going to make my passion my career is to get my name out there and be relevant for as long as possible. When working on a collaboration, one of the professional qualities I admire most is when collaborators know their stuff. They’re organized, confident, and you can immediately sense their passion for their work as well as what I do. That shared sense of excitement is infectious and usually they have a vision for the collaboration and are excited to evolve it to include my vision as well. Nobody is a diva and everyone contributes.”

It looks as though LanaBetty has a strong future ahead of them. And even though Lana has admitted taking the jump and leaving the corporate world behind was a scary decision that would often leave her fretting all night, trusting her instincts and jumping into the unknown has been the best decision she’s made for her career.

There’s much more in store for the company and it’s Lana’s strict goal setting scheme that’s made a strong impact on her company’s success.

“I make a lot of short term, long term, and stretch goals and work all year to achieve them. Last year, my biggest goal was to attend both Circle Craft in Vancouver and the One of a Kind Show in Toronto. To me, being recognized by my peers as an artist hit home pretty hard.”

Even though she never stopped being a biologist or questioning the way things are and challenging the norms, she knows that what she’s doing was what she has been meant to do all along.

“I can see myself growing into a larger studio, hiring staff, getting my jewelry into shops across the U.S. and Australia. And then the world.”

© 2021 Merrymen.

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