ENTREPRENEUR AND DESIGNER SHARMA TALKS BUSINESS AND FASHION

LIKE most girls, Ritu Sharma formed a connection with jewellery at a young age, which included wearing her mother’s gold bangles and earrings.

These cherished memories included getting her first pair of gold-hooped earrings at the age of sev­en. The early connection later turned into a passion that led to the business entrepreneur and jewellery designer launching her own brand Ka-vivá Jewels.

The brand has rapidly grown in stature since starting in May 2017 and is helping to redefine jew­ellery with eye-catching designs admired by a de­voted following, including high-profile clients.

London-based Ritu has big plans for the brand and is driven by that same passion for jewellery she had as a youngster. Eastern Eye caught up with working mother Ritu to talk about the challenges of setting up a business, jewellery tips and more…

What were the biggest challenges of setting up a jewellery brand?

Setting up a brand is a difficult process that is labour and time intensive. It involved a lot of research, planning and careful execution at all stages. Before set-up, it was important to ensure we had the right marketing strategies and a detailed business plan.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect was the branding element. How would we brand ourselves and create something tangible with meaning? We wanted all of our products to have substance and form, but be different to everyone else.

How did you decide on the name Ka-vivá Jewels?

Ka-viva is derived from a combination of my chil­dren’s names, Vivaan (6) and Kaveesha (4). I want­ed the name to sound modern and contemporary, but with a slightly European feel to it. This was im­portant as we incorporate both eastern and western themes into our pieces, hence the use of the small styled accent at the end of Ka-vivá.

Once you had established the brand, how did you introduce it?

Given the fast pace with which social media is devel­oping, we wanted to harness the power of the Inter­net with a fresh look to our e-store. While developing offline retail strategies, we recognised that merely having images of jewellery was not enough. So we took time to create the website. The whole process was lengthy but it’s something we recommend to all new businesses to reach a more global audience.

The designs are very unique and of a high stand­ard. How did you go about creating the good-looking jewellery pieces?

We were very fortunate that our mentor had years of experience in the jewellery trade. We had a great team behind the designs and products who have won the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement. One of my personal goals starting up in business was to work with the best and to ensure we thought outside of the box.

In order to develop a game-changing mindset, it requires testing and pushing yourself constantly, and for any business start-up there is always an element of risk. However I believe if you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, no target becomes impossible.

You did eye-catching shoots for your collections Grand Heritage, Kingdom Heritage and Hip Herit­age before launching. How important was that?

I carefully selected a team of creative make-up art­ists, stylists, models and photographers to the high­est standard. Then we chose plush locations in the heart of London for the respective shoots, including a first-of-its-type shoot that had never been done by a brand with origins from the Indian subcontinent in the UK, with spiders and reptiles.

We wanted the element of high jewels to come across at affordable prices and achieved that. After months of hard work, we produced our portfolio with these very creative images for our business website and we were then ready to open our doors to the world.

What do the Ka-vivá Jewels pieces mean to you?

It is a brand built on re-defining the quintessential values behind jewellery and also tastefully pushing boundaries. Ultimately we believe that each item of jewellery is an expression of love; from the way we channel our energies into the creation process and production to the pieces becoming a gift of love to those who wear them.

We believe strongly that at its core our pieces have to retain substance. This means that each piece is lov­ingly and individually created, and finished by hand. We realise that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we can assure you our products are made with love. We love being pas­sionate about what we do.

Tell us more about the pieces…

All our products are nickel and lead free, and we also use Rhodium along with pure sterling silver. Our products consist of Swarovski crys­tals, opals and pearls. Our goal at Ka-vivá is to constantly push the boundaries and create an affordable collection of jewels engineered for comfort.

What kind of woman wears the pieces you create?

We supply and create jewellery for all backgrounds, whether it is for a career women or a homemaker. We offer a very executive range of jewels that can be worn in the workplace by women, but also under­stated and minimalist pieces for everyday wear.

We have a nice selection of simple clip-on ear­rings but also statement pieces like the Kohinoor bracelet, which is a 22-carat gold-plated piece con­sisting of 72 handset and hand-polished Swarovski crystals. Our price ranges vary from earrings that are £35 to our most expensive bangles at £350. The kind of women who wear our jewellery appreciate good quality products which have comfort in mind. We pride ourselves on offering fashion jewellery that is durable, tactile and very affordable.

What about for men?

We will also be launching a Ka-vivá men’s range this year with cufflinks given the sheer demand of interest from our male customers.

Ka-vivá Jewels has received a lot of attention since launching last year at high-profile events, with celebrities and in media. Who has been your favourite female celebrity you encountered?

Everyone who has been a part of our journey has been special, but if I had to single out one celebrity it would be Sushmita Sen. It was a pleasure and hon­our to meet her. I personally found her to be well spoken and charismatic. Women like this are icons in their own right and they make women like me feel empowered.

What are the top jewellery tips?

The top jewellery tip I would give to both men and women would be to check the product material be­fore buying, especially for allergy sufferers with sen­sitive skin. Nickel and lead free products are safer and more durable.

What advice would you give men wanting to get their partner a jewellery piece?

I would personally recommend men buy an item of jewellery that has meaning or a connected story so their loved one feels special. Pick something of sen­timental value, which she will remember.

It also might be an idea to take a look in her jew­ellery box for a better idea of what she would nor­mally wear, but with a refreshing twist.

What is the favourite jewellery piece you own?

My very favourite piece of jewellery is a gold Om pendant chain passed down to me by my grandm-other. She used to wear it all the time and I would often tell her how beautiful it was. She would always say that when she passed, it would be given to me.

She left us last year in June, but before passing she handed me the chain and it’s something I will always treasure. I wear this everyday as a reminder that she is with me at every stage of my journey. She, along with my mother and mother-in-law, are strong female role models who continue to inspire me today.

Which celebrity would you love to create a jewel­lery piece for?

If I had to choose a celebrity I would love to create a jewellery piece for, it would be Oprah Winfrey. She is someone who has empowered women globally and given hope to those who need a credible voice.

A woman who has endured so much suffering and pain in her life, but still come out strong and successful. Maybe one day I will have the opportu­nity to create a bespoke piece for her.

Is it hard to balance running a business with your home life as a mother?

As difficult as it is to run a business, it is fulfilling and rewarding. It does not mean I am forgetful of my duties as a mother. I feel empowered and motivated more than ever. Seeing more women in the public eye, armed services or playing a pivotal role in the wid­er community is so inspiring. That drives me forward.

What key advice would you give women wanting to set up their own business?

My advice is to just to do it. It is important during the start to network, attend events widely and keep connecting on social media, as you will find it helps you grow your business. A message for all the stay-at-home mums out there is you are doing a wonder­ful job too, as this is one of the hardest things to do.

Ultimately, women need to support and encour­age each other, which is why I take time out of my work schedule to mentor other women who want to get into business. Ladies, make 2018 your year!

  • Visit www.kavivajewels.com and Instagram:

@kaviva.jewels for more.