International Jewellery London’s annual KickStart initiative is aimed at emerging UK designers looking to take their business to the next level.
10 up-and-coming design talents have been selected by the National Association of Jewellers (NAJ) and IJL to have the unique opportunity to showcase their jewellery at IJL 2016 on a group stand in the prestigious Design Gallery.
Here, KickStart finalist and People’s Choice winner, Marina Skia, reveals the inspiration behind her abstract jewellery designs and what she’s most looking forward to at IJL 2016…
Q: If you had to describe your brand in three words what words would you choose?
MS: Elegant, sophisticated and feminine.
Q: How did you get started in the jewellery industry and what is your educational background?
MS: Jewellery making started as a hobby while I lived in Athens and worked as a junior fashion editor for one of the biggest publication companies in Greece. I soon realized that designing and making jewellery is what I wanted to do so I left my work to study full time jewellery making in Athens. This was vocational training focusing almost entirely on traditional techniques such as filigree, granulation, repoussé etc. After that I continued my studies at Sir John Cass, London, where I got an MA in jewellery design and a year after my graduation I launched my own brand.
Q: Can you explain a little bit more about your design style, your key collection(s) and the type of customer you are designing for?
MS: If I had to pick the strongest design element that would be abstraction. Regardless of all else, the process of developing the design is that of removing the ‘clutter’ and gradually arriving in a form that clearly references the initial inspiration, but with a level of sophistication that can’t be achieved when too much detail is present.
I am also very interested in surfaces, that is the qualities of material, texture and colour combined. The Black Waves collection was my first attempt in introducing this element into my designs and I expect it will have a more prominent role in future collections.
My main source of inspiration comes from nature with the sea and water in general having a very special place in my heart; I think coming from Greece this is only natural! My pieces, even the most minimal ones are still quite bold and stand out. Therefore, the customers I have in mind when designing are strong, confident women who are not afraid to stand out and make their presence felt, but they do so with elegance, grace and self-assurance.
Q: What are the most challenging aspects of launching and growing a new brand in 2016?
MS: I think the most difficult challenge is being noticed in such a competitive market. There is so much talent and London, and the UK in general, is a great place to find a lot of very promising designers. I think the most important thing is to develop a strong brand identity, stay focused and be prepared that inevitable mistakes and failures are part of the journey. We just need to learn the lesson and move on.
Q: If you had a mentor in the jewellery industry what would you ask them and what advice would you benefit from in the short term?
MS: I am becoming more and more interested in different models of organising the production, working with manufacturers and, in general, finding people to collaborate with, so I would ask advice about that. I would also like to know what the pivotal moments in their carer were, the breaks they had that took their work and brand to another level, but also what were the biggest mistakes along the way.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about exhibiting at IJL 2016 and what do you hope to achieve?
MS: I am thrilled to be part of Kickstart, it is such a great platform to promote my work and my brand. My aim is to make new contacts with the press and retailers, to present my work to a large audience of professionals within the industry and raise awareness about Marina Skia Jewellery as a brand.
Q: Are there any types of retailers or stockists in particular that you are trying to attract?
MS: I am focusing both on department stores as well as smaller shops and boutiques looking for unique, quality work.
Find out more about the 2016 KickStarters.
Register to attend International Jewellery London here.
Register in advance online for the chance to win either an exclusive Champneys Pamper Spa Day for two or an Aston Martin Thrill Day at a famous motor race circuit!