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, 2016 KickStart finalist Cécile Gilbert describes her brand ethos, inspirations and reveals what she would ask an industry mentor about establishing a jewellery brand in 2016…
Q: If you had to describe your brand in three words what words would you choose?
CG: Iconoclastic, Eye-Catching, Innovative.
Q: How did you get started in the jewellery industry?
CG: I am pretty much self-taught. I began working with reclaimed Bakelite which ignited my passion for working with cast plastics. As luck would have it, my local art college in Brighton ran a part-time resin and plastics course. I enrolled, learned the basics and experimented for a number of years. During this period I developed my own cutout and recasting techniques. I then took a series of evening classes in silversmithing in order to create quality fitments for my finished pieces.
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?
CG: I have always loved the beautiful Art Deco Bakelite jewellery from 1920s and 30s. I wanted to create a contemporary range which would reflect the same qualities in shape, tactility and colour, whilst adding a 21st century sophistication. By mixing my own pigments and making my own moulds I am able to form intricate shaped pieces in a distinctive colour palette.
I am currently presenting three collections: Luxor, Zazou and Lunula. Inspired by the Art Deco movement, the Luxor collection is a reminder of the classic ‘Sun Ray’ pattern with a tribal influence. The pieces are cast in a distinctive, angular and elegant shape.
The Zazou collection takes inspiration from the subculture from the same name. ‘Zazous’ were the subversive teenagers of 1940s occupied France, they dressed in brightly coloured clothes and listened to Jazz. This collection plays with blocks of vibrant colours with bold stripes, creating geometric and abstract shapes.
The Lunula collection is inspired by circular forms and half-moon shapes. The design consists of half-half patterns, one half in solid colour, the other ornate with irregular, contrasting lines. I design for sophisticated women who enjoy wearing tactile, playful and bold jewellery. My pieces compliment classic dress and more fashion orientated habiliment.
Q: What are the most challenging aspects of launching and growing a new brand in 2016?
CG: One of the biggest challenges is firstly getting exposure to the right customers and innovative jewellery retailers. Secondly, the public perception of my main medium ‘polyester resin’. Many people are unaware of the medium and often mistake it for acrylic, this hinders resin being taken seriously as a precious material.
Finally, it’s a matter of finance. Launching a new brand takes a lot of energy and also a lot of funds. For many beginners, like myself, making is the easy part. The business part is the hardest and is a continuous learning curve.
Q: If you had a mentor in the jewellery industry what would you ask them?
CG: If I had a mentor, I would like to know about their experiences, how they got started and managed to successfully run their own brand in a world filled with so many designers. I’d also love to know their opinion on my work and any advice they have on tackling the crucial steps in developing from an unknown designer to an established one.
Q: Are there any types of retailers or stockists in particular that you are trying to attract?
CG: I hope that IJL 2016 helps me to reach a national and international audience, providing the exposure my brand needs to move forward. Direct response to my work from professionals would allow me to evaluate the future capacity and direction of my business.
Resin jewellery is currently a very niche market. I feel the potential of the material has yet to be fully explored and experimented with. I hope that my pieces show that resin can be transform into stylish and timeless jewels. I hope to attract the innovative jewellery shops, the established galleries as well as the more design orientated boutiques.
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!