March 05 2020 – Mercantile London
International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality.
International Women's Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organisation specific.
To celebrate female achievement for this International Women's Day we speak to Alice the Director/Designer behind the eco-conscious jewellery brand Shyla, about herself and the successful business she created.
How did you get started in jewellery design?
I was inspired by my mum's large vintage jewellery collection. I wanted to create timeless, good quality pieces that don't cost the earth.
How do you keep up with industry trends?
As our jewellery is created with longevity in mind, I try not to pay too much attention to trends. If it feels right at the time then I design and make the pieces. Of course big fashion trends will subconsciously influence the designs but I try and create with one question in mind: Will I wear this in two or three years’ time.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on a small collection of large statement earrings that will hopefully drop in 6 months’ time.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced in getting your brand started?
Funding. I started my business from scratch with a very small amount of personal savings and gradually built on what I had. There is little government funding out there to help a small business start-up, or I found it hard to find at least.
What are the best/worst aspects of London living in terms of starting a business?
The worst aspects of London living is that as it is one of the most expensive cities in the world, it is practically impossible to save and re-invest financially back into your business. The best aspect is all the inspiration and creativity that surrounds you in this wonderful and lively metropolis.
Can you explain the thinking behind your brand name?
I named it after a woman I met in India who was a true inspiration. She had set up a charity that empowers and educates some of India's poorest women, most of whom had been badly abused. She never turned a woman in need away. I remember meeting her at the young age of 21 and being in awe of such a person. I never forgot her name, Shyla. Today we give a percentage of our profit to her charity, although I am not sure if she still works there.
How do you remain unique in a saturated market such as jewellery design?
That is the hardest part of all. I try and stick to core designs that work for me and often elaborate on those designs.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to go into social work or counselling.
Which woman would play you in a movie?
I think Ada Lovelace's story is so unique and should be made into a movie. She was one of the first ever people, not just female, to ever publish an algorithm intended for a computer, which is so relevant to today's times. She was also have meant to have been charming and witty. Since 2009, she is recognised annually on October the 15th to highlight the overlooked contributions women make in maths and science.
Who is your favourite female artist?
I know it might be cliché but Frida Kahlo’s paintings are my favourite. She portrays her pain in the most beautiful way.
Who is your favourite female author?
I have a big soft spot for old English classics. The Bronte sisters will always be at the top of my list for this question.
Favourite London Borough?
Has to be Hackney! There is so much creativity there, and it is also home to some of my favourite parks, restaurants and pubs!
You have a day off from work - what would you do with your free time?
It would probably start with some form of yoga, pilates or a run. If its summer then a park day is a must, maybe a picnic with some friends. And it would likely end catching up with friends or family over a glass of red and a pizza.
Follow Shyla jewellery here