Things are particularly spooky this October with both a looming election and pervasive pandemic, making the usual scares of ghosts and zombies actually a source of comfort. Unlike many, Vera Meat, designer and store owner of VERAMEAT, has found solace in the supernatural for years. In fact, a ghost in the East Village was the impetus for her to open up her first brick-and-mortar shop in the neighborhood.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vera Meat followed her instinct to take a break from New York City and purchased a lake house in upstate New York. While there, she was inspired to share some of her witchier tales with her fans who look to the designer for magic-inspired styles. Her connection to the spiritual realm has inspired her own work as a designer, creating pieces like a gold skeleton necklace, a ghost emoji ring, and an enamel tarot card pin.
To tell her stories of ghosts and supernatural experiences, Vera Meat has launched a video series filmed at her lake home. NYLON spoke to the designer about the launch, ghosts, and how she’s been able to keep her brand afloat during the pandemic. Read on for more.
Where did the ideas for the videos come from?
I’ve been asked by fans of my brand @verameat on Insta about why I make magical accessories. So I wanted to create a Witch Mr. Rogers series about my personal, real-life witchy stories.
What was the filming process like?
I’m very lucky to have had an intuitive feeling right before Covid hit to get out of New York City and get a lake house where I could do creative projects. I was happy to share my home with the film crew. It was actually super fun to see Phil, the set designer, take my personal items and make them into a set.
I’m obsessed with stories and read a couple books a week, but I love watching people tell their personal stories even more. Especially paranormal-themed ones, so in this series I tried to create a warm, inspiring environment for people to bring the magic inside of them to the outside.
How did you decide on the styling, makeup looks, and setting?
I used to be a model with DNA in NY and Nathalie’s in Paris, so I fell in love with how styling yourself can be an art. I’ve been saving makeup looks in my phone and am happy to have an excuse to have heart-shaped blush or green eyebrows. The hyper-real magical creature vibe is what I’m all about. With a pinch of old man, as I remember my past life where I was my own great grandfather and lived to the age of 98. It’s one of the stories I wanted to share as I told my mom about my past life, what I looked like, that I kept bees, and she showed me a photo of the very person I described. It was an emotional moment and I want to inspire others to share such memories and be more open about their inner world.
Does the ghost still live in that building in the East Village?
Yes, and she was upset my customers and I weren’t there to entertain her during the pandemic. She has a beautiful, vibrant personality and I feel lucky to have her. I feel it’s her business whether she wants to move onto the afterworld or be reincarnated. And if she’s happy in my store, I’m honored to have her as she was my lucky charm for helping me find the store in the first place. People need to respect friendly ghosts because they can teach us a lot!
Have you always felt a connection with the supernatural or was it something you gravitated toward later in your life?
I think most people have a strong gut reaction and they notice things but then black out those events in order not to freak themselves out or others around them, but I think in this crazy time we all need to let our intuition guide us. I've had magical experiences my whole life but only recently have I felt comfortable enough to share them. I know my intuition gene had the gas turned up to full blast and I feel it's like when someone is a naturally good singer. Everyone can sing but only some have purrfect pitch. My mom tells me she felt comfortable encouraging my spiritual gifts because her grandmother had similar and even stronger gifts. Though like most people with natural gifts, I didn't like being different and creeping myself out. Until I realized these gifts can help people and are given to us for a reason. You can listen to VeraMeat podcast, the Cole episode, to hear about one such experience.
What is it like being a brand owner during the pandemic?
It ain’t easy, but I’m beyond thankful for my loyal customers old and new who keep the blood pumping in the VeraMeat brand. VeraMeat is female-owned and run, and I’m glad there are people out there who care about keeping New York bad ass. Keeping the fashion artists who make wearable art employed and empowered! They actually helped fund this story series and I feel blessed.