Payal Shah: Exemplary Craftsmanship
There is a beautiful combination between classical traditional scheme and modern design equipment. I have witnessed this as a result of my upbringing. I was born in Mumbai, grew up in Hong Kong and moved to London when I was 17 to pursue my passion in architectural interior design. You can see the influence of this in my colorful patterns and striking concepts! Payal Shah, Director and Designer of L’ Dezen Jewellery, Hong Kong tells FLOROSCENT. Excerpts:
Floroscent: Tell us something about you in detail like your education, certifications, family, achievements, kind of person you are…so on?
Payal Shah: I have been raised in Hong Kong all my life until the point I went to London for university to pursue a course in Architecture Design.
Hong Kong is such an astonishing city with so much culture to offer. The quality of life here can spoil a person to believe that everything comes easy. However, with the constant travelling I did as a child with my parents because of their business, made me see otherwise. That is when I took advantage of my city and enrolled in every interesting activity I could as a child. I was always an art fanatic and appreciated how generations, history and legends changed our vision in art, architecture and design. My main strengths as a child were art, maths and business and so I wanted to pursue a course where I could use a blend of these. This is when I decided to spend 3 years in London studying Architectural Design.
London is a fascinating city. In many ways very similar to Hong Kong, but obviously had the European influence which made it a lot more romantic. Studying design increased my strengths in many areas such as CAD/CAM, Photoshop, scale drawings and being able market your ideas. The Architecture course required us to work on many projects that started as a problem and you as a designer would solve these problems by adding value to what have been offered to us already. After finishing studying and some work experience I came back to Hong Kong where I designed furniture for renowned hotels such as Marriot and The Taj. With all this that took place, I was sure of one thing: design creates culture and our culture shapes our values – and our value determines the future! You can see some of my projects from university and workplace on my personal website: payalshahdesigner.com
Floroscent: What first inspired you to pursue a career in jewellery design?
Payal Shah: Whilst working in the hospitality firm for the first year I was back from London I use to sometimes help out my parents in the evenings after work. I remember the day my father introduced me to slice diamonds and rose-cuts. These diamonds fascinated me, as I had never seen it before. The only diamonds I knew about were the basic shapes as I had very little experience in the diamond/jewellery industry. I started playing around with the slices and rose-cuts and created some interesting shapes and designs. That is when I decided to design a jewellery collection on the side as a hobby. I found a manufacturer for handmade jewellery and created an inventory of around 60-70 pieces, which I showcased under a friend’s jewellery company at JCK, Las Vegas 2011. The response was enormous and people were very interested in the designs I had to offer. That’s when my family offered me to start something of my own: a carrier in jewellery design/branding. The next month followed by quitting my job and started my own company: L’ Dezen Jewellery. L’ Dezen simply means ‘The Design’ in French Croatian. I believe that design is almost pronounced very similarly in every language and I wanted a name that I could potentially take worldwide. With some help and back up I had worked out a plan for my designs. I worked a few solid months on getting my inventory, as well as a stable factory that would manufacture the designs exactly how I envisioned my designs and now we own that factory. L’ Dezen just simply and smoothly took off and now is 2 years old. I have partnering retails in New York, Istanbul, London and opening this summer in Russia. I also wholesale items worldwide from India to Italy. We have also been featured in numerous magazines, celebrities and awards in all these regions.
FLOROSCENT: What does the L’Dezen mean?
Payal Shah: ‘L’ Dezen’ literally means – The Design – In French Croatian. The word ‘Design’ sounds so similar in most languages – therefore the ‘Dezen’ gives it the unique element as well as a meaning of its own defined by jewellery designs. My intention of these creating one-of-its-kind jewels is that they find their way to the special individual who is meant to possess them. When this happens, I feel I’ve created a connection between the wearer, and myself whether or not we ever have the pleasure of meeting. In this way, I enlarge the circle of lives I touch, per design, which enriches my life and completes the cycle of creation.
Floroscent: What have been the important influences in your life & work?
Payal Shah: My upbringing has to be the number one reason as to who I am today. My family has been so genuine and inspiring. Having a business aggressive father and highly professional working mother makes my surrounding all the more motivated. They both have such different values and traits to offer that I believe I have influenced from the best of both worlds. I have also travelled almost in all cotenants of the world where I have taken in all inspirations through art, photography, culture, business, technology and fashion. It opens your mind to a whole new spectrum and makes you believe that everything, given the time and effort is possible. I was also 1st runner up Ms. Hong Kong Jewellery 2011, which is a pageant in Hong Kong to find women who are able to endorse the Hong Kong Jewellery and Manufacturing industry. This was a very unique experience where I felt like I did something outside of my forte and gained a lot of knowledge whilst doing it.
I like to believe that everything is possible. I have attempted in a lot that have been curious about and will continue in the future to do so. This has influenced my relationship with the people around me, especially the ones that work with my customers and me. I like to have a very fun loving atmosphere amongst the people I work with where everyone is benefiting from being with each another. When you have design/product that has so much design value and so personal to the designer, it is important you are able to portray that to your colleagues and customers so they can feel the same way about it too.
Floroscent: Tell us something about your inspirations. How do you translate them into such beautiful pieces?
Payal Shah: I am inspired by my everyday life. When I travel I make sure I make use of everyway possible to capture the opportunity given. I love photography and fashion. This helps me a lot when I do my own marketing. I design my own websites and social marketing material because I believe the energy I can put in for my designs and product is like no other.
My inspiration in my designs is always evolving. I love contemporary forums mixed with classical elegance. I always try to see where it’s possible to geometrically challenge myself in the jewellery designs. I have four different collections at the moment. The fierce collection is influenced by animal print where the jewellery pieces are engraved with sharp and strong patterns. The Violetta collection is an inventory of floral and feminine designs that is loved by women all over the world as it has a very delicate finishing in all its pieces. The Puri Di Cuore collection is inspired by one of my favorite architects: Mies Van Der Rohe, where the pieces in this collection are contemporary and simplicity just as Classical and Gothic did for their own eras. This is a more everyday affordable collection so it moves the most amongst others. The fourth and final collection is Venom Chadonne, a collection filled with cocktail and extravaganza. A lot of detail, work and time go into not only designing but also manufacturing pieces for this collection. They are usually more statement wear and can be seen all over Hollywood! Each collection offers very different styles and gives my customers a variety to choose from. They usually find it a fun and exciting experience to go through all the pieces as they are fascinated by jewellery that they usually have never seen something like before. That look and enjoyment on their face makes me even more motivated to push further in my designs. I usually don’t follow trends as much as I like to believe in making my own. There’s a common quote that goes around which I truly believe in: ‘Be faithful to your own taste because nothing you really like is ever out of style’ – Billy Baldwiin.
Floroscent: Who is your target audience? How are you promoting your jewellery?
Payal Shah: I have done trade shows almost all over the world. This was part of R&D when I started L’ Dezen Jewellery. I needed to see what sort of responses I get from different regions as well as structuring my price point and expenses. One big thing I learned from all of this is your numbers are everything as so your inventory and prices become a big part of your success. By doing these shows I created a name in the niche market I am today. My customers like my jewellery are usually very unique and appreciate the craftsmanship and design value that goes into each piece. I have a big market in the USA, Istanbul, UAE and some parts of Asia and Europe. I entered the jewellery market at its most competitive period in jewellery history. But because I cater a unique product, my clientele is minimal however, appreciative. I always enjoy selling to consumers who are excited about working or wearing my jewellery as much as I am – Makes me feel like I am growing a family within my work.
I promote my jewellery with many different, yet unique varieties. Being young and tech-savvy gives me an advantage on social media targeting as well as visually being able to produce some beautiful ads and prints. I collaborate with specific designers, photographers and events to get as much as exposure with similar visions as where I would like to take my brand. I also enter quite a few design awards where I am challenged to create something unique and acquire problem solving. This gives my brand a whole new identity. I am pretty much the face of my brand where I enjoy sharing my everyday experiences via social media and getting the brand fan following involved. This has mostly influenced my brand in a positive manner. Relationships are very important in this day and age especially when you need something to inspire your new design everyday. I have been patient with my growth and seen every obstacle as an opportunity and that has also enhanced brand awareness. Marketing has become a natural form in my life and when I see my pieces on TV, magazine or the red carpet, I look back and appreciate every step up till today. I was also an honoree of ‘The Young Leader of The Year 2012’ at the JNA Awards in Hong Kong and it gave my brand more leverage to enhance the brand equity of my company.
Floroscent: According to you, how is the taste of global consumer changing towards Jewellery?
Payal Shah: The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you! I feel like because I was never really aiming to be part of the jewellery industry whilst growing up, I never saw it as a ‘market’. Even though I am part of it, I like to believe that I’m adding value to it. Consumers are more favorable to luxury and having the most unique of rare items. And that is what I offer… My slogan is ‘Wear the unique, own the rare’. When you are designing an item that you know no one will ever be able to replicate, it adds a significant value to the product. That is what I love about the materials I use because no matter who has the same materials as me, even I can’t replicate apiece once it’s made because if its irregular shapes of diamonds and hand make finishing. My consumer’s then pay the premium price for this luxury and they do is quite happily as they believe what they are getting is truly one of its kinds. Consumers are more open minded now then they use to be. Every one knows that a simple solitaire will give you its value for money but the enjoyment in wearing something for fun, fashion and trend is a different sort of happiness that people are more open experiencing today.
Floroscent: How important it is for jewellery designers to know about manufacturing details?
Payal Shah: I started this company with very little knowledge of manufacturing in jewellery. However because of the background in my studies, it was a smooth process of learning. I had to constantly be aware of each piece making sure it looked very much like how I would like it. My visits to the factory in China have decreased over the two years since now I have someone who handles the factory work as well as my colleagues in my office who are also able to take some of that work load off me. But that doesn’t stop me from being my own quality control. The finishing of my pieces today is significantly better then they were a few months ago. We are always improving our quality and clarity in designs. This opens up more opportunity to push through even more exceptional designs. I believe that designers should experience the manufacturing process because it will only help him or her open their mind when designing further on. It adds a lot of value to your work when you can logically see the structure of your design working!
Floroscent: Tell us something about your latest collections. What is most unique about these collections?
Payal Shah: My latest collection I am working on will debut in JCK, Las Vegas. I am constantly always introducing new concepts per day because each piece is so unique. I am now working towards introducing new materials and more abstract personalities. I have a few new designs with lace like patterns as well as using a mix of different gold colors within one piece. After recently winning 2 design awards issued by HKTDC at the March HK Jewellery show and the A’ Design Award for Jewellery in Milan where I tried some new concepts have obviously got positive responses. I have a feeling these new designs will have a powerful impact amongst my current designs.
Floroscent: How challenging is it being an Entrepreneur as well as Designer? How do you gel both?
Payal Shah: Like we have all heard before by Confucius; choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. The key is to take everyday as it comes, where I’m saying don’t plan out your life if you have to but be open to the idea of barriers that you can transform into opportunities.
I thoroughly adore my work and life. I always try to keep busy with plans and projects that excite me. Because I am involved in so many different aspects of the business, it makes the journey all the more adventures. At the age of 23 currently, I believe that there should be no excuses to exceed your limits. This is the youngest you’ll ever be and nothing tastes better then happiness. I try to have a fun environment within my work – my employees and I get along very well and I always make it a point to reward them for their efforts as they have the same drive and passion as I do for what I believe in. I am now also working on a separate business – an App I am developing for planning and presenting called MasterPlan (www.masterplanit.com) which will be released in August.
Floroscent: How do you manage your work, travel and family?
Payal Shah: I am privileged that because my father is my supplier of diamonds I am dealing and surrounded by my family on a daily basis. Although we all travel a lot, sometimes in different directions, we as a family make it a point to always keep in touch. I share a lot of my work life with my parents and especially my mother. I appreciate how they don’t interfere because they trust my instincts. I call them my backbone. I have the cutest and most supportive younger brother who is currently studying in London and we use technology on a daily basis to keep in touch.
I have surrounded myself with the best of friends. They are always out to support me and vice versa. We have built a community of friendship where even when we are miles away we are able to go extreme distances for each other. I have a lot of entrepreneurial friends all over the world, some are even mentors. Currently I excessively use social websites, emails and the good ole phone to keep in touch with the ones I care about. There is a time and place for everything in your life as long as you are able put in the effort. You need people around you to understand this so when you are busy or unavailable, they are aware of where you come from. This makes keeping your friends and family close even easier.
Floroscent: Tell us about your achievements and awards so far?
Payal Shah: In the past two years I have won a few spectrums of awards. In 2011, I was crowned 1st runner up Ms. Hong Kong Jewellery where this beauty pageant was focused on finding a brand ambassador for the Hong Kong Jewellery Manufacturing Association. I was also ‘Young Leader of the Year’ Honoree at the JNA Awards last year in 2012. This was more focused on the entrepreneurial end of leading L’ Dezen Jewellery. I got a similar award from The Sarjan Group in 2012 as well.
This year I have won a few design awards that I participated in. I won merit awards for my 2 of my designs at the March Hong Kong Jewellery Show issued by HKTDC where the theme was ‘Glitter In Motion’. I also won an award recently in Milan/Lake Como, Italy for my ‘Ete’ Slice Diamond Band Rings under A’ Jewelry, Eyewear and Watch Design Award and was certified in excellence of design. Although there is a lot of effort put into participating in these awards, I thoroughly relish the outcome. It has helped shape my brand a lot.
Floroscent: In 10 year’s time, what do you hope to have achieved?
Payal Shah: 10 years seems like very long time. I can tell you that at least in the next 5 years I wish to keep my entrepreneurial drive going. I have recently taken part in some activities with the Women’s Foundation (A charity based in Hong Kong). I want to be able to give back to the community as much as I can offer, but not only just financing, however influencing the upbringing of the new generation. I want to make L’ Dezen Jewellery a global designer brand that signifies courage in every aspect. I know that my positive attitude to life will play a big part in building the brand to the level I envision it.
Floroscent: According to you which trends will be hit in 2013?
Payal Shah: 2013 has had an interesting start. There have been a lot of different trends already within the first half of the year. I am seeing a lot of color and nature influenced collections. There’s a sense of fusion in a lot of the unique designs today where brands are collaborating with the new and old, the traditional with the modern. Modern manufacturing technology is also influencing trends nowadays where geometrics are on a new scale. Men have also started appreciating jewellery more for themselves more then before – so maybe this might be an interesting market to get into.
Floroscent: Who do you most admire and why?
Payal Shah: I have numerous mentors – my mother being the number one. Growing up around such a strong-headed successful role model has been my utmost influence to who I am today. I admire her balance in the love she has given us and the control she has over her work all at the same time.
Floroscent: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received and please mention celebrities who endorsed you creations?
Payal Shah: The best piece of advice I have come along is that because being a designer everything you do is very personal, you have to even more careful on the business end. The truth be told, if you are not positively growing as a company then you have to look at all perspectives of your business. It comes down to the idea of being passionate as well as logical when need be. Being able to take smart decisions on your feet comes with experience but once you are able to do this, everything will seem to run smoother.
Even though founded only two years ago the celebrity following has been growing immensely in the last year. L’ Dezen pieces can be seen on Sharon Osbourne, Tina Fey, Brook Burke, Kristina Guerrero, Arielle Kebbel, Danneel Harris, Julie Benz as well as celebrities from Istanbul like Sinem Kobal on and off the red carpet and television. We also get many celebrity bloggers, such as Charlotte Chen from Hong Kong, who love being featured in L’ Dezen.
Floroscent: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Payal Shah: Perfect happiness comes to you naturally. You can’t force it but you definitely work towards it. Appreciating and sharing is how I make most of my life and it makes me utterly happy. It’s a plus that my designs and work ethic makes the people around me happy too.
Floroscent: Tell us about your success MANTRA!
Payal Shah: The irony of my success MANTRA comes from experiencing hurdles or even failures. What’s meant to be will be and the quantity of downfalls you are able to face in your life will make the quality of your life today worthwhile.