After half a lifetime working various manual-labor jobs, including at restaurants to valet services, Raul Rauda is now co-owner of Dcopper+ Gallery on Valencia Street with his wife, Andrea Paz Vargas, a fourth-generation coppersmith.
The storefront at 1017 Valencia St., near 21st Street, is stocked full of copper jewelry, vases and kitchenware, most of which are made by Paz Vargas’s family in Michoacan, Mexico. Sunlight bounces off of each metallic item, casting golden streaks across the room.
The pair met 16 years ago while working in a cruise boat’s restaurant, she as a server and he as a cook.
“We’d always find excuses to see each other or talk to each other at work,” Rauda said in Spanish.
Even before they started dating, Paz Vargas would regularly talk about her family tradition of coppersmithing that goes back more than a century.
“She would always say she was going to have her own shop one day,” Rauda said.
When the couple married, just over a year after meeting, her goal became their goal.
“We both worked two jobs and saved the money to open this place,” Rauda said.
Though the past four years of operating a small business have been stressful, Rauda said he is much happier now working in the shop, and excited for future possibilities.
“When you have your own business, you have no limit to how much you can make. If you work for somebody else, they tell you what your pay will be,” Rauda said.