SARATOGA SPRINGS — What began a career in fashion turned into something above and beyond what Virginia Fretto, owner of Razimus Jewelry, ever thought she would do.
Fretto designs and creates custom pieces of jewelry made from keepsake fabrics. Memorable garments such as wedding gowns, baby quilts and a grandfather’s tie can now be worn and remembered forever.
“So talk about fulfilling, I get to be creative and help people,” Fretto said. “The best part is this feeling and sense that I’m doing something bigger than just design.”
However, Fretto never imagined herself designing with such keepsake items and said it was something that happened naturally.
“It was just something that happened organically. I started having clients ask me if I could make them something out of an important garment and the more I said yes to it, the more fulfilling that felt,” Fretto said.
Fretto started Razimus Jewelry after she and her husband moved to New York for a job opportunity. In Boston, Fretto said she handled the corporate social responsibility at Hearts on Fire, a diamond dealership. After experiencing the corporate side of business, Fretto searched for a creative outlet and thus her business was born.
Fretto began her store with design collections of eco-friendly fabric jewelry, which she sold through a number of boutiques in the capital region. She said her store combines two passions: fashion and jewelry design.
Starting three years ago, Fretto noticed requests for custom keepsake jewelry more often. After placing a small listing on her website about such items, Fretto started to shift the business focus in Feb. 2019.
“This is a big transition for my business,” Fretto said. “The beginning of last year it started to become more of a request and something I started to realize was a service and a gift that I can provide to my clients.”
The store now holds the focus of custom designing. Fretto said they work with clients to transform fabric pieces such as a great grandmother’s apron and design it into jewelry that can either be a special gift for someone, or can even serve as memorial gifts.
“It’s really such a beautiful way to honor a loved one or preserve a memory, and there aren’t many options out there to preserve loved ones clothing after loss or to transform your wedding dress after the big day is over. I have found a really unique niche, and it is touching so many lives. I am just so thrilled that I can use my creative skills to touch so many families & people through fabric jewelry design,” Fretto said.
Fretto uses a variety of different materials to create these custom pieces. They use everything from sterling silver to precious stones and a majority of their pieces are made with solid copper, brass, stainless steel or pewter. Fretto wanted to offer enough materials in case a client had an allergy to one of the metals.
Once a request in sent in via mail or online, Fretto and her team get to work. She has two women who work at home as contract employees. They do the sewing and beading of the designs as they come in.
“We really like that [work] dynamic. It’s conducive to moms who stay at home or people that have multiple jobs or different issues of flexibility in their schedules,” Fretto said. “It’s something that we can continue to grow and add more artisans in the area and it’s really lovely because I get to kind of work and feed off of all these other very creative women.”
Working with memorable garments creates a sense of honor in Fretto and said every story she hears holds a place in her heart. She even had the privilege of watching people open the box with their new bracelet or necklace and the tears that are shed don’t come from sadness.
“There’s a certain comfort and happiness that I know I’m providing and it’s a beautiful thing. I feel like I’m actually offering a service that was not planned but has become a really beautiful part of this journey,” Fretto said.
Operating largely through her website, Fretto said she also occupies a small portion of the Palette Cafe on Broadway. Requests for the custom pieces can be made online, in store, or through the mail.
“I’m able to use the talents that I’ve had and kind of keep developing them and keep innovating,” Fretto said. “And not just in a way that’s serving me as a creative outlet, but that I know is actually providing something so meaningful as the end product to the client.”
COPING WITH COVID-19
Paying it forward is a great way to help businesses around the community after being shut down during this outbreak. In response to this outbreak, and as a small business owner herself, Fretto created an idea to help pay it forward.
Fretto dedicated a portion to her website to help other small businesses. A portion of sales from any purchase on their website will be used to make another purchase from a small business in the local community. She wants to encourage other small businesses, in any way they are able, to use a portion of that sale to continue the cycle and make a purchase from another small business.
For example, once a bracelet is sold, Fretto will use those funds to purchase a delivery meal, local farm produce, toiletry, clothing, cleaning or other handmade products produced by a small business owners. She will then donate said product to Wellspring, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help survivors of relationship abuse and sexual assault.
The idea is to help generate some needed revenue and support in the community. While upholding social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, anything ordered will be mailed directly. Bracelets can range in price from $40 to $90.