We had the good fortune of connecting with Valerie Chaika and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Valerie, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I should start with the fact, that I grew up in post-Soviet Ukraine. My parents and grandparents spent their lives shaping principles of communism. As my parents were from the first generation of people who actually were learning to live in a capitalistic world, it influenced my perception of a career choice a lot. I didn’t think of all challenges ahead of me. More importantly, I started working on my own businesses from a very dreamy and naive standpoint. I simply wanted to change the world and make the life of people around me better. I didn’t think of a practical viewpoint, what type of job and career can bring me the best lifestyle and less headache. I always started from the idea and from the problem I wanted to hack. I think this perception I learned from the Silicon Valley startup scene. Now after 10 years in entrepreneurship, I understand the process much better and understand business processes much better, so I focus on the effectiveness of the business processes. I believe that the perfect business is when profitability meets your values. Only this way it can be sustainable for you and the world around you. Humanity first 🙂

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a founder of the jewelry brand RIIA. I decided to open the brand for a few reasons. First of all, it is a perfect workshop for my design ideas. I can do whatever I feel I want to do. As I also do brand strategy consulting and work with household brands, I don’t have that much freedom with clients. There are much more risks involved and much more things that influence the final decision. I chose jewelry making for a couple of reasons. First of all, it is beautiful grounding practice. I work with fire! What can be a better break from the screens? Another issue, that deeply moved me is that metal and stone mining is so unsustainable that I want to cry. It influences people, animals, and our planet in an extremely bad way. People, don’t buy new metals and new stones! Go to recycle materials and lab stones. This is the only choice we have in 2021. I will do some guest publications and share more information on this topic soon. And generally, I believe in slow living movement. And RIIA is made for people who care.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Culver City and I love my neighborhood. It is in the middle of the city, so it is easy to go to DTLA, West Hollywood, Venice even during the rush hour. I love the weather in our neighborhood. It is usually chill because of the ocean and it is possible to not use the AC in summer and we have winter here. For the trip, I would first stop at Destroyer, one of the best food joints on the block. It is also located in a pretty architectural gem of LA. Eric Owen Moss built something very unique worth checking out. If everyone in the mood for shopping, the Platform can be a spot to stop next. A good place for an outdoor experience is Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. If you want to check some art, you can go to Hammer Museum that is not far away from Culver City. Or LACMA if you have more free time. Also, a day near the ocean with natural wine and good sushi sounds like a good day for me. Manhatten beach is my go-to beach these days. It is also important to check East LA when around. In terms of food experience, I highly recommend thinking vegetarian when in LA. You will be surprised, I promise.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many things that contribute to my everyday success. Today I want to mention Vipassana meditation, which is a great way to be more mindful every day. I’m not new here, but just want to be one more voice, who mentions the importance of this practice.

Website: www.theriia.com

Instagram: the_riia

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/valeriechaika/

Image Credits
Photographer: Zhenya Minaeva https://www.instagram.com/zhenyaminaeva/

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.