Shane “Vitaly” Foran’s first collection, “Bali”, consisted of solely double and triple rings made out of wood and silver, brass or copper, and emerged out of an extended trip to Asia. Other than the quality of the design, the strength of Vitaly is in its entrepreneurial conception, and is a story any Toronto entrepreneur can relate to.
Taking things more seriously this time around, Foran has invested more time, money, and thought into his upcoming collection, “Friends”, which now features single rings, cuff links and tie bars.
We sat down with Foran to talk about “Friends”, and how he has managed to create a growing brand.
BALLnROLL.com: What made you want to design your own jewelry line?
Foran: I was in Asia for one of those “find yourself trips”, kind of cliché, but I’d seen a bunch of double rings, and I wanted one for myself. Most of the ones that were out there were gaudy, and I have a really simple taste.
[The first ring] wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, but I saw potential there. I had planned on spending two days in the village I was in [Ubud, Bali], and I ended up staying three and a half weeks. I posted on Facebook if anyone else wanted one. I didn’t even have a photo, I only explained it, and a bunch of people said they were really interested. I got some prototypes made, and came home with ten really sketchy rings. I wasn’t completely happy with them, so I started doing revisions and mapping them out.
Was transitioning this fun personal project into a business, easier or more difficult than you expected it to be?
Evolving this into a business was an easy next step for me. Up until recently I never considered myself a designer, I just considered myself an entrepreneur. It wasn’t until I started designing other things and seeing people were extremely interested in them that I thought I’d found a niche. It was a lot of work and it continues to be, and I’m learning new things constantly.
What is a set back that you have experienced, or an obstacle you’ve encountered?
I had ordered these rings in a specific type of wood, and because of the change in climate from Bali, Indonesia to Canada, when they first arrived every single one of them had broken.
That was a really horrible experience. I had a massive amount of debt, and I had invested the last few dollars that I had. I had wired the money over to Indonesia without actually knowing that I was going to get anything back. It was enough money that the guy could have retired in Indonesia for the rest of his life. Thankfully they arrived, but when they did, they were shattered.
When I messaged him about the broken rings, he immediately told me, if you can send the broken pieces back, we can reuse the metals, but just pay for the shipping, and I’ll send you a new batch. Sure enough I had everything in about 3 or 4 weeks. So it set me back a lot, but it’s pretty amazing that he did that. I’m very loyal to him now. I’m not shopping around for anyone else. At this point I consider him a partner in my business.
A lot of men don’t wear jewelry, and other men end up looking like a cheesy Backstreet Boy with a gold chain around their neck. What’s your advice to men on either side of that fashion dilemma?
I won’t really make anything that I wouldn’t wear. My designs are androgynous, so women can wear them as well, but they’re mainly geared towards men. I would say if you don’t feel totally comfortable wearing something, don’t.
Do you have a celebrity style man-crush, or someone who you would really like to see wearing one of your designs?
Someone that I’d love to see wearing one of my rings is wearing one – Travis Rice. Not because I love his particular style, but because I’m a big admirer of his talent. Snowboarding has been a big part of my life, and I consider him one of the best snowboarders in the world. I met him recently and I gave him my ring. He was incredibly thankful, and wore it on TV for a bunch of interviews.
I wanted this line to be a big thank you to all of the friends who have really supported me through everything. I was going to name each piece after a different friend but I couldn’t narrow it down to just 15, so instead each one means “Friends” in a different language.
Anything we can expect for the future of Vitaly?
I’m really hoping to do some traveling, and my goal is to have Vitaly in 10 different countries in the next year. I’m going to start sourcing new materials for the third line, and I already have a new material I’m planning on using. (It’s a secret!)