Vannessa Vinos has set up her own jewellery business to give women all over the world the chance to be “Riviera-chic” all year round. Here she explains why she left the world of criminal psychology to set up and how it has transformed her life.

What inspired you to set up your business?

I always had the goal of working for myself by the time I was 40. By age 35 I was a completely burnt out, cynical, disillusioned criminal psychologist. So my husband and I decided to take a year out and moved to Spain. That move lasted 13 years and during that time I saw how women in the Mediterranean really knew how to accessorise. They would wear gorgeous jewellery just to go to the supermarket, the school run and even the beach, whereas I found the Brits tended to keep jewellery for special occasions. I didn’t have any British friends that would match their jewellery to their bikini or beach kaftan but in Spain and Italy it was quite normal and they didn’t go for fine jewellery they tended to go for big, bold pieces; pieces to draw gasps but small enough not to detract from their tan. That was what inspired me to create a business which would give women “Riviera-chic” all year round. 

What makes your you/your product special and where are you based?

I am now based back in the UK but our products are sourced primarily from the Med. Nothing is mass-produced. Everything is made-to-order so our customers know they can go to an event and they won’t see someone else wearing the same piece as them (let’s face it we all hate it when that happens). For that reason my clients don’t mind the wait of 10-15 days before they get their jewellery.

I was told by one business coach that people would never wait 10-15 days for a piece. But my argument against that was that if they want instant, cheap and mass-produced then I am not for them but if they want bold, beautiful and unique then they will probably shop from my boutique.

How do you use social media to help promote your business?

I use social media 90% of the time to promote my business and I think it is thanks to social media that my customers are based worldwide. Also I have met some of the most amazing bloggers, female entrepreneurs, coaches etc through social media. I am most active on Facebook ( and Instagram ( followed by Pinterest (  then Twitter @VanLuxuria.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?

Two pieces of advice always stay front and centre in my mind. You don’t have to have all your ducks in a row before you begin. Sometimes (most of the time) you just need to start and tweak as you go along i.e don’t spend ages designing the perfect logo or website, get something up (that is good enough) then tweak as you go along because your vision will change as you progress. And the second piece of advice – follow your passion but take your head with you.

What has been your greatest challenge?

I come from a science background. So to now be creative, use my intuition, become more right-brain in my thinking has been a big challenge for me. I am wracked with doubts and fears every single day. But I think that is also what spurs me on. Also I knew nothing about e-commerce when I started my boutique business, which is so different to having a business that is not online. It’s a whole different ball-game. So it’s been a very steep and hairy learning curve for me.

How do you switch off?

If you ask my husband he would say I never switch off. But when you have your own business it’s like having a baby – you never completely switch off even when they are sleeping! But having said that I love cooking, entertaining friends, doing yoga, meditating and interior design. My husband and I have just moved to the West Country from London so exploring new places helps me switch off from my work (which usually also involves eating).

Where do you go on holiday?

I travelled extensively with my parents when I was younger and there are still many places I would love to experience with my husband such as Scandinavia, South Africa, parts of the US, Hong-Kong……I could go on for ever. However after living in the Med for 13 years I now look for something different when I organise a holiday; more city-scapes rather than chasing the sun as before. Having said that I am always ready to catch a flight to Capri, one of my most favourite places in the world. But this year we will spend a couple of months this Summer in Switzerland where I have family and where we love being. Then probably do a short break to New York in December. I would like to do Anguilla and Dubai at some point also (not necessarily this year, but who knows!).

What lesson do you wish you had learnt at school?

How to be more creative and how to nurture my artistic tendencies which I think we all have. I think schools crush creativity and it all becomes about just passing exams. There is so much we could be teaching children in schools other than the prerequisite exam subjects (bearing in mind we will never use 90% of that information ever again). I always said that if I had had children I would have preferred to home-school them. Maybe easier said than done in reality.

What app/website/twitter account (other than your own!) would you recommend?

OK, I would recommend: Headspace app (a meditation app); Evernote (where I put everything); Hopper app: a great air-far alert app. It predicts if the flight/ticket you are watching is about to go up or down; Accuweather (app): It will tell you the weather in any country/city with detailed hourly reports. I always use it even when in the UK. Foursquare App-tells you great places to eat wherever you are and I also listen to podcasts whenever I am working in my office. There are some really amazing podcasts out there – if I had to recommend one podcast I would recommend (listen to his interview with the founder of Spanx. So inspiring). Finally I am not sure if this has a website, but you can check it out at It’s called Food On The Fly. You can buy food/lunches etc to take on your flight if you can’t bear the food on planes (which I can’t).

Where do you see yourself/your company in five years’ time?

I would like to be more or less where I am right now in both my personal life and business life. I don’t want to grow my business into some huge monster that I have no control over. As long as it grows organically every year, and we never substitute quality for quantity I will be more than happy. I do have revenue goals that I set every year. I would also like to be working with a workshop producing my own designs. But aside from that I am in a very good place right now and happy just taking one step at a time.

In 5 years time I would still like to be in the position of giving 15% (or more) of all our profits to the charity Pencils Of Promise which I support. They build schools in Third World areas for young children. I had quite a privileged upbringing and education, so this charity is really close to my heart (