IJL Inspired: Interview with KickStart Winner, Aishleen Lester

IJL Inspired: Interview with KickStart Winner, Aishleen Lester

Selected as one of six up and coming designers for IJL’s leading initiative, KickStart, Aishleen LeSter has gone from strength to strength, growing her jewellery business, LeSter Jewellery.

In the midst of growing her jewellery business, Aishleen Lester shares her experience of IJL KickStart.

Q. What was your overall impression of KickStart and how did it help your business in its early stages?

It is a really great opportunity to receive the support and guidance from NAJ and the IJL team, in preparing for and participating in your first retail show.  I learnt so much, which will help me to develop my business.

Q. Being a KickStarter does involve investing in the cost of a shared stand at IJL 2018 – what would you say to people who are worried about taking the leap?

Yes, participating in the show does involve an investment, but since that cost is partly shared between the other Kickstart winners, it is not as much as having a stand on your own.  Moreover the PR that all the Kickstarters received is invaluable, and makes it easier to speak with buyers and have incredibly useful conversations with them.

Q. How can future KickStarters capitalise on their IJL Journey and the IJL experience? What would be your advice?

i) Say yes, to all the opportunities that being a Kickstarter gives you.  It was through Kickstart that I did my first interviews on camera and my first written Q&A’s in trade press. They were not perfect, but I know what to expect when it happens again!

ii) Give yourself enough time to prepare for the show, I underestimated the amount of work which was involved in contacting buyers,  compiling your price lists, writing your own press release etc.

iii) Enter all the competitions connected to the show, again they are another opportunity for more people to see your work.

Q. How did KickStart help you on your journey to success?

KickStart gave me my first opportunity to get feedback from buyers, and facilitated my first stockists. However my most important takeaway is what I learnt through the process, highlighting the areas I need to develop in order for my business to grow.

Q. Finally, how is your jewellery industry career or brand progressing and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

Currently I am on the Setting Out program at the Goldsmiths Centre, concentrating on developing my business acumen whilst developing the collection. An exciting year awaits and I am looking forward to seeing how this will impact the growth of Le Ster, the brand.

Heading into it’s 10th Year, KickStart will be open for submissions in January 2019.

To read more terms and conditions about KickStart, please click here

What is the IJL Journey?

As part of our IJL 365 approach, the IJL Journey extends far beyond our three-day trade event. It offers myriad career-boosting benefits, including a mentoring package, workshop days, ongoing pricing, branding and marketing support, and introductions to key industry figures.

This invaluable advice prepares each Bright Young Gem, KickStarter and Design Gallery Exhibitor to meet the 9,000 strong jewellery audience at IJL 2018, from September 2-4.

Discover more about the IJL Journey, here. 

IJL is #withyou offering career opportunities and the chance to grow your jewellery business, whether you are a student, recent graduate, emerging brand or established player. Speak to our team to find out more. 

Quick Links: Listen to our IJL Talks podcast series

Quick Links: Discover how to create a press pack 

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