1: What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage it?
In my 20s, my greatest fear was anonymity - having a life that wasn’t meaningful or important. In some ways, that was really destabilizing as a young person because I didn’t know how to build a meaningful life, and therefore, lots of things felt like failure.
But over time, combined with having some level of success, feeling happy with my life, and becoming a mother, my greatest fear today has nothing to do with myself. Now, my greatest fear has to do with the world that we're leaving our children. The fear that my daughter is going to live a life that doesn’t have the same potential for joy that I had. I don't have a recipe for dealing with that, but I’m very politically active. I donate and march for a lot of different causes that are local and global. I’m an activist because I want to be as impactful as I can, even in my small life.
2: How do you define success?
Success and freedom are synonymous for me. My main goal has always been to build a life that allowed me to do what I wanted when I wanted, so that dictates a lot of how I continue to build and run my company. So, freedom in my time, but also freedom to be outspoken with my brand, to make the jewelry I want, and to do the things that speak to me. I also recognize my privilege in all of this. I have been fortunate not to be hindered by outside financing, but that meant running a shoestring operation for a long time and being extremely frugal. I’m still extremely frugal. Sacrifices do need to be made to achieve success, but it’s important to choose the sacrifices that will allow you to define your success.
3: Who are your real-life heroes?
I think there’s a lot of everyday heroism that should be celebrated more. Just getting up every day, giving it your all, and being open-hearted to the world is heroic. Being a good person in the world today isn't that easy. And if that's what you're doing, you're a hero. I think we all can be heroes in our daily lives, in tiny ways, and in bigger, universal ways.
"Just getting up every day, giving it your all, and being open-hearted to the world is heroic."
Of course, there are women I admire. I admire a lot of women in my own world, especially moms, my mom, all moms, and then there’s Greta Thunberg, Jane Fonda, and Frida Kahlo. But really, anyone out there trying to build a better world, you’re a hero to me.
4: What is the best gift you've given yourself?
Honestly, the greatest gift I've given myself is letting go of internal and external expectations for myself. Coming from a family of artists, there are a lot of expectations, and when I was in my mid-20s, my path to becoming an artist didn’t look like that of my mother’s. She was a passionate artist who worked every day in the studio, and just had all of this creativity flowing out of her into the work that she made. I didn’t feel that for myself. My artistic training was as a sculptor, and I had low-grade success with it. But when I discovered my passion for collecting ethnographic jewelry and connected that with the realization that I wasn’t seeing these bold, sculptural-like pieces in contemporary jewelry, I formed the vision of the type of artist I wanted to be. I'm still a maker, a creative, and a designer who gets to use their hands. I'm building something. And because I allowed myself to let go of expectations, I became the artist I was meant to be - and that was very freeing.
5: What was the last win you celebrated?
I've never been great at celebrating wins. They are just markers on the larger journey. Even my first big breakthrough, when Beyonce wore my cuffs for the Grammys, I was excited, but then on to the next thing. The titillation of winning, to me, is when it's more serendipitous. There’s more of a surprise element to it, like finding an Hermes scarf while I’m thrifting or solving a problem that had been lingering. But when it comes to meaningful life accomplishments, they feel more like destiny than winning. If you put it all out there, good things are destined to occur.
"...when it comes to meaningful life accomplishments, they feel more like destiny than winning. If you put it all out there, good things are destined to occur."
While I'm ambitious, the real win I’m really striving for is that success of freedom, and I look at every win that occurs as the catalyst to maintaining that freedom in my business and my life. I guess you could say I celebrate these wins by going out and living my life. By taking advantage of the freedom I have built for myself.
About Ariana Boussard-Reifel Jewelry
Ariana Boussard-Reifel is an artist and jewelry designer known for her blend of artistry and craftsmanship. Inspired by indigenous cultures, her sculptural pieces are a favorite of celebrities from Beyoncé to Gigi Hadid and Michelle Obama. In 2021, she was named as one of the 50 designers changing fashion in America by Vogue.