12 October 2016
“SHIKHAZURI, at the 2016 AFWL, provided an interesting insight into the latest trend of layering jewellery where each piece can be worn in different ways. In an interview with OneVybe, the Kenyan born designer, Shikha Vincent, told us how she got started on creating her unique pieces and how animal conservation in Africa is a big part of her business.
OneVybe: How did you decide to become a jewellery designer?
Shikha Vincent: The impetus to create jewellery came to me many years ago while browsing at the wares on display at markets in Kenya, which included lots of colourful beads from around the African continent. I decided to try my hand at creating my own designs using these beads; and so, my journey into this wonderful craft began….
I have since been making jewellery to raise funds for wildlife conservation initiatives. Early in 2015, I decided to set up a business where I could combine my passions: jewellery, travel and conservation. I have always loved travelling around the world and learning about different cultures; consequently, my jewellery is inspired by the ethnic and tribal styles that I encounter and I infuse the story of the different cultures from where my raw materials originate into each piece. Being passionate about African wildlife, it is also my ambition that my business can support conservation related initiatives through proceeds from sales of my jewellery.
OV: What inspires you?
SV: I am inspired by a combination of cultural, ethnic, historical and tribal influences from around the world to create unique, contemporary and exquisite pieces of adornment.
This eclectic style is inspired by my background: I am of Indian decent; born and raised in Kenya; have lived and worked in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa and have mingled with people from all around the world. In this age of globalization, many of us live in a very cosmopolitan society and I want my jewellery to embrace and reflect this, while still paying homage to the cultures from which each component originates.
OV: What is the best thing about designing and what have been the highlights?
SV: I love the whole process, from sourcing the beads and artefacts, exploring different combinations, then finally finding a style that resonates with my creativity and my customers personal style. I know that certain pieces will speak to particular individuals, and that’s the beauty of it. The highlight for me is when my customers find the piece that speaks to their own unique style and personality. I know that they will treasure it and let it adorn them for many years to come, and infuse their own story into the piece.
OV: Would you say you have a signature look?
SV: Absolutely, particularly with my one-of-a-kind statement pieces.
OV: How would you describe it?
SV: The foundation of SHIKHAZURI is creating unique pieces which are bold yet elegant to enable women to express their individuality. Not only do they look distinctive, but they also have a fascinating story due to the fusion of beads, artefacts and stones incorporated into each piece. Each piece also includes a sterling silver or gold plated SHIKHAZURI logo bead, so you know you are wearing a SHIKHAZURI original.
OV: Who is your targeted customer?
SV: My ideal client is a worldly woman with a strong sense of personal style, inspired by multiple influences. She is always on the lookout for unusual and unique accessories because standing out from the crowd is important to her. She is an ambitious woman and confident about her individuality.
Most of my customers are repeat clients because they know that they can find unique pieces that reflect their individual sense of style. It is not trend driven, but they invest in timeless pieces that enables them to make a statement in a beautiful and elegant way.
They always receive lovely compliments on their SHIKHAZURI jewellery, and they love being able to convey the fascinating story behind each piece. More importantly, they are reassured that no one else will be wearing what they have, which reinforces their individuality – it keeps them coming back for more.
OV: What are the challenges and how do you deal with them?
SV: Sourcing antique and authentic materials can be challenging, particularly since I use elements and components from different countries and cultures. I make an effort to travel to source materials, and while this can be expensive, I ensure that I am acquiring genuine materials. I also make a concerted effort to establish strong relationships with traders so that I can source directly from them. Over time, they come to learn about my requirements and the desired quality, so sourcing materials becomes easier over time.
OV: Do you customise your designs for individual customers on request?
SV: I usually create pieces from the materials that I acquire, and offer my clients a selection to choose from.
OV: How did you get involved with AFWL?
SV: I applied to showcase my designs on the catwalk as I believed it would be a good platform for me to introduce my work to a wider audience in London. It was indeed a great opportunity for me to take my brand to an international platform and share the beauty of African adornment in an environment which is receptive to embracing it.”
OV: Do you have any upcoming shows?
SV: Yes, I have been invited to participate at Africa Fashion and Design Week in Nigeria this October 2016. I am very excited to be taking my work to Nigeria!
OV: What can we expect from you in the future?
SV: Layering jewellery is very much on trend so my latest collections are based on this concept, but with an exciting twist. It is in response to a demand for pieces that are versatile enough to be worn on their own and still enable you to make a statement every day, or can be combined with other pieces to really make you stand out from the crowd. Each piece can be worn in different ways (as a necklace, belt, body chain, head piece, etc.) so there is a fun play on layers in both a traditional and unexpected way.