Fashion Blog by Natasha Ahere
31 August 2017
Shikha Vincent has been making jewelry for almost a decade, creating one of a kind pieces, each with it’s own story. Her love for design, travel and conservation saw her experiment with jewelry designs and this hobby later transformed into a business. Her works have been featured in publications such as Couture Africa Magazine and Eve Woman and have also graced runways like that of African Fashion Week London. I got to ask Shikha some questions on how she started out as a jewelry designer, what it’s like running her own business and some of the challenges she’s faced and below is what she had to say.
- What inspired you to become a jewelry designer?
I’ve always loved visiting local markets whenever I travel to discover beautiful artisan made products, and somehow the wonderful array of jewellery I would come across would always mesmerize me. I decided to try my hand at creating my own designs, so I bought a few different types of beads and learnt some basic jewellery making techniques. I loved the creative process and the ability to make jewellery that quickly became popular amongst friends and family. At the time, I was also working on a wildlife conservation project and started selling my jewellery to raise funds to help rehabilitate animal orphans back to the wild, so it was extremely satisfying to be able to generate revenue from doing something creative and help animals at the same time.
When I left my corporate job a few years ago, I couldn’t wait to get back to my calling and establish a business where I could design and sell jewellery and at the same time support conservation.
- How did you come up with the name Shikhazuri?
I wanted the name of my business to reflect the cross-cultural fusion that is central to my design aesthetic, hence the Indo-Swahili brand name, which incorporates my name as the designer, which in itself holds significance. In Hindi, “shikha” means tip of the flame; in Swahili, my name translates to hold or embrace, and “zuri” means beautiful. SHIKHAZURI jewellery symbolises timeless beauty that you can treasure eternally.
- How long have you been designing?
For almost 10 years, although I’ve been in business for a little over 2 years.
- Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
I derive inspiration from different cultures around the world as I love discovering and learning about diverse ethnic, historical and tribal adornment. I travel as much as I can to discover these styles in person, and learn more about the techniques that artisans employ in their craftsmanship. I love acquiring antique objects and artefacts and combine them with beads and stones from other regions to create a fusion of cultures into a single piece of adornment. To me, it is symbolic of the cosmopolitan society in which we live.
- What is the price range of your pieces?
My one-of-a-kind statement pieces start from approx. KES 20,000 and go upwards depending on the rarity of the artefact or beads used in the piece. The simpler layering necklaces start from KES 4,000.
- What’s the best part about being a jewelry designer?
The ability to express myself creatively and combine my passions, which include design, travel and conservation. I have always loved travelling and the ability to learn about different cultures and source ethnic and tribal jewellery from around the world is an added bonus. I am also passionate about wildlife conservation, so it’s wonderful being able to earn a living from designing jewellery and donating a portion of profits towards conservation.
- What are some of the challenges you have faced as a designer in the Kenyan fashion industry?
Being able to source local materials with consistency of supply and quality can often be challenging. There have been times where I have come up with a design using local beads which I would like to replicate, but I often find that they are available one day but not the next. I think this is where you have to be quite flexible and learn to either adapt your designs or business model. This is one of the reasons I decided to develop a one-of-a-kind range of necklaces.
- What are the future plans for Shikhazuri?
As well as establishing a presence within the Kenyan market, it is my ambition to take the SHIKHAZURI brand to an international platform and promote an appreciation of African inspired jewellery into Western markets. My strategy is to gain exposure by participating in international fashion shows and approach stores within the European and US markets.
- What advice would you give to those who aspire to become jewelry designers?
Develop your own design aesthetic and don’t be tempted to please everyone. Not everyone will be drawn to your designs, and that’s ok. Research who your target market is and focus on them.
- What’s your life mantra?
Stop dreaming, start doing and learn to punch fear in the face!
- How can people purchase your pieces?
They can get in touch with me directly or they can shop online at www.shikhazuri.com or at any of the stockists which are listed on the website.