On the first Wednesday of every month, the family law office of Phillips & Peters celebrates Women Crush Wednesday! These are not sponsored or paid posts – just women business leaders we love to support that are crushing it in Hampton Roads.
Anna Lorich Akers is the owner, creator, and businesswoman behind Lorak Jewelry in Selden Market. She makes beautiful, handcrafted pieces for every budget and occasion which is why we thought she would be the perfect feature during the month of our firm anniversary. After inquiring about some custom pieces, we sat down with Anna to learn more about how she turned her talents and passion into a successful business that brings fine conceptual jewelry to the Hampton Roads scene.
Anna’s journey started with painting. She began art school as a painter before discovering enameling which is the process of fusing glass on metal. “The closest relative or application for enamel is jewelry” Anna explained. “So, I was making jewelry in undergrad and when I wanted to go to graduate school, I wasn’t sure what field I wanted to pursue in fine art”. She decided to focus on jewelry at the Rhode Island School of Design but kept her options open to discovering something else. Yet, as she learned more about studio jewelry Anna found a place to settle in the unconventional world of gallery jewelry. Though it isn’t as popular here in the United States, gallery jewelry is more abstract. “It’s not necessarily what we think of as fine jewelry. It’s about the conceptual pieces. It’s a little-known world.”
In this world, Anna has found her home. When stepping into Lorak, there is a distinct feel to the pieces on display and the shop as a whole. Everything in the store she made herself except for a collection of curated products from other women-owned businesses that complement the ethos of Lorak. “My approach to jewelry is different. I’m not really interested in the commercial and conventional way, so I really approach it from my fine art background” Anna shared. You won’t find anything like her handmade pieces in a typical big box jewelry store. Using old-world techniques she carves and then casts every ring, hoop, and pendant. They are then assembled, set, and finished by hand.
When unwrapping the reason behind favoring the handmade over computer-aided design (CAD), Anna had this to say: “It feels a little bit more organic and it feels a little bit more soulful. It feels authentic. I like the humanity in it. The imperfectness. If you get down to a spiritual level, it’s unhealthy to strive for perfection. It’s unattainable.” This isn’t to say that Akers won’t use CAD when necessary, but all of her artwork has the evidence of the hand.
At Lorak, Anna has the freedom to create as she wishes, and to her, that freedom is the smell of success. “I’ve always wanted to do my own thing. My father was self-employed, so I always saw that as a goal because I wanted that freedom too.” Even though her business has slowed a bit due to the challenges of COVID, Anna recognizes how fortunate she has been to have customers reach out with words of encouragement and place orders.
It helps that she offers her custom-made pieces at every price point. From gold-dipped brass, silver, vermeil (silver with the gold overlay) to fine jewelry, Anna has something for every customer who wants to don their own piece of art. Lorak is also in the business of giving new life to family heirlooms. Refashioning inherited pieces into something custom is a creative challenge she enjoys. Anna’s advice to anyone with old jewelry would be, “Absolutely don’t let that sit in the drawer. Reuse it. Reset it. Everybody has stuff in their drawers that they don’t realize.”
As Anna continues to put her heart into her business and work, she reminds other aspiring business owners to do the same. “Your heart has got to be in it, and you have to be self-motivated. If I was trying to make something work that wasn’t in me 100% then it would fail.” We know from our own experience at Phillips & Peters that heart and hard work can build a lasting business that contributes to the success of a growing community like Downtown Norfolk. We’re thankful for the value that Anna brings to the community and can’t wait for you to visit her showroom in Selden Market to find your lasting heirloom.