Nina Berenato designs and makes beautiful jewelry here in Austin. She is also one of many women breaking outside of her professional mold to speak out on politics and social issues – just in time for the 2020 election.
This summer Nina launched a successful social media campaign called “A Girl’s Guide to Voting in Texas” to educate and encourage local women to vote in the July 2020 run-off election. Even the most political of women can forget about special elections, Nina made sure that didn’t happen this time.
Moving toward the general election in 2020, Nina launched a petition that appealed to Texas lawmakers and the US Supreme Court calling for an expansion of the mail-in voting option this November in light of the health risks surrounding the coronavirus pandemic in Austin. Nina makes more than jewelry, she helps make change.
As an artist, Nina’s mission has always been to empower women through her designs and this year she is pushing that mission even further.
Nina’s political engagement focuses on bipartisan education and voter’s rights protection, a cause that she feels all sides of the fence should be able to agree on. “My line has always been synonymous with female empowerment, community support and creativity. That’s why I want to continue using my resources – my flagship store location at Domain Northside and social platform- to strengthen the community and I hope to create a one of a kind opportunity for Texas women to get engaged in local politics.”
TALK TO US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR ROLE. WHAT DOES BEING BOTH OWNER AND DESIGNER ENTAIL?
My job entails so much! I make all of the jewelry sold within my brick and mortar shop & online store, I am also the shop manager, I oversee our programming the shop and I also also run our social media and marketing.
WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL AND WHAT DID YOU STUDY?
I attended University of Missouri and majored in Fashion Design.
WHAT GOT YOU INTERESTED IN POLITICS?
Through my involvement with women in my community, as I sought to create change, I realized a lot of the things we wanted would have to be tackled on a larger and more political scale.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?
I always think that I would have followed others less if I had an opportunity to go back and spent time earlier developing my own voice and clearing the noise so I could follow my own inner compass. Of course that’s something I developed over time, but I wish I would have started working on developing that as soon as possible.
DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR? WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE THEY HAVE EVER GIVEN YOU?
I just this year got a real mentor that I check in with monthly, she is the CEO of a large fashion company called Quay (they make glasses) and her name is Jodi Bricker. She gives me tons of great advice but most of all she is a constant reminder to think bigger. She’s always asking me what’s next and pushing me to think of how I could do things on a larger scale that my own view doesn’t always realize is possible.
HAVE YOU EVER MENTORED ANYONE? HOW DO YOU MANAGE THESE RELATIONSHIPS?
I do mentor as well. I have some online programs like my Masterclass that is focused on aspiring designers but I also have one on one mentoring available for any women who is looking for some advice or a second pair of eyes. I think if you’re coming to someone for more constant mentorship, the key is going to be prepared with what you want to learn and be clear and concise about what the relationship will look like… For example, are you going to meet monthly, what is the end goal of this mentorship? And what is each person bringing to the table?
WOULD YOU EVER RUN FOR OFFICE?
I’m not sure, I definitely want to represent for the women in my community but it’s always scary to know that you’ll be ripped apart in the way that politicians are, especially women in politics. So, I take a pause everytime I think about it because I’m just not sure how that would effect me.
HOW DO YOU STAY CONNECTED DURING YOUR COMMUNITY, ESPECIALLY THROUGH THE PANDEMIC?
I am a real hermit in my personal life, so I stay connected through social media. I make sure to watch and respond to other leaders and show up in that way so tha they continue to feel supported by me.
WHAT CHARACTERISTICS OR SKILLSETS HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE MOST SUCCESSFUL IN YOUR BUSINESS?
The most essential to me is to not be effected by failure. I have a great ability to say, ok that didn’t work, who cares? I move on quickly and I don’t get in my feelings about things that I try that fail. Or money I lose, or opportunities I don’t get. I move on and I move on QUICKLY. To me that is essential. One of the biggest ways to sabotage yourself is to dwell on those things. I always remind myself that life isn’t fair and that it’s up to me to move past the obstacles that appear on my path, whatever they might be.
I’M A YOUNG WOMAN AND I WANT A JOB LIKE YOURS. WHERE DO I START?
I always recommend trying find an apprenticeship and work for free under a master to try to hone your craft. In my opinion that is way more valuable than any schooling or studying you can do in a field like fashion.
WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE TOLD YOUR YOUNGER SELF WITH THE KNOWLEDGE YOU HAVE NOW?
Raise your prices. This is almost always the first thing that I say to the people I mentor as well. Artists are almost always undervaluing their work and themselves so understanding the right way to price, that would have been so helpful at the beginning.
WHAT DO YOU FIND TO BE MISUNDERSTOOD ABOUT YOUR PROFESSION?
Most people think jewelry designers are designers only and they aren’t the makers. But there are a lot of people who do both and are very talented and able to wear both hats.
YOU COULD NEVER DO YOUR JOB WITHOUT _____. WHY?
My staff. I have 3 girls who work with me here that I couldn’t live without. They are THE BEST, they enable me to think bigger and to go further by supporting me.
WHAT KIND OF BAG DO YOU USE REGULARLY?
I have a Rebecca Minkoff crossbody bag that I carry and it’s full of boring stuff. Bills that need to be dropped in the mail, water, phone and sunglasses.
FAVORITE LUNCH SPOT?
I really like Vinaigrette for a biz lunch.
Tequila, soda, lime
DO YOU COLLECT ANYTHING?
DREAM DINNER PARTY GUEST LIST?
Now my obsession with the Obamas will get revealed because it would definitely be the Obama family.
IF YOU WEREN’T IN YOUR CURRENT ROLE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
Thanks to Nina for sharing her work with us here at Pink Granite. We absolutely love to see women from different professional backgrounds giving back to their communities and engaging the process in ways that make sense for them. You can follow Nina on Instagram @NinaBerenato and view her incredible jewelry on her website here.