Lakota Bijoux

Lakota Bijoux

This week’s feature is beaded cuff maker, Lakota Bijoux. A relative newcomer to the jewellery scene, this is certainly one to watch. Follow her on instagram and facebook.

Who is the person behind Lakota Bijoux?

29 year old Lakota Taylor, a crazy melange of Indian, Irish, Spanish, and English heritage

Where are you based?

The South of France

Where does the name Lakota Bijoux come from?

Lakota is my name and ‘bijoux’ means jewellery in French.

Do you have any formal jewellery training?

None at all. Everything I know, I have learnt along the way.

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Do you have a background in fashion?

No.

How did you start your brand?

I have always loved making things by hand and LOVE accessories.   As a hobby, I started off making headbands and hairpieces with feathers, and then used the same concept for earrings and necklaces. These were very popular at music festivals, and a few shops ended up buying all my stock.

Then in 2009, I was in Israel and chanced upon an area full of craft shops, basically Lakota heaven. In one of these shops, I found a beautiful book full of the most amazing bead embroidery jewellery. I had never seen anything like it and became completely obsessed. I ended up visiting that area every day and bought so many beads, big beads, small beads, gemstones, crystals, but I had no real idea of what to do with any of them.

I started putting beads to fabric anyway, learning as I went along. If there was a technique that I wanted to learn, I would go to Youtube or buy a tutorial online and do it over and over until I mastered it. The first few pieces I made were just for me and I had no intention of selling at all. But every time I would wear one of my cuffs, friends, and complete strangers would ask me where they could buy it, often offering me money to take it on the spot.  It was only this year that I started making pieces to sell.

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When did you start your brand?

I have been in the planning/experimental stages for a few months and launched one month ago so it is still in its very early stages.

Where do you find your inspiration?

From the beads themselves. I just start working and ideas come to me.  My best work happens when I have no outside distractions and am able to become completely immersed in what I am doing. I am also lucky enough to have an insanely talented group of family and friends whom I can bounce ideas off and whose opinions I trust implicitly.

greenstone

I saw on facebook that you had purchased a green stone from a museum but didn’t know what to do with it and later turned it into the central detail on a beautiful cuff. Do you often purchase stones and beads without knowing what you will do with them at the time?

Yes. I don’t do it intentionally, but that is actually that is how all my pieces start. I just love using gemstones and minerals and find beautiful stones (or should I say they find me) everywhere: museums, craft stores, exhibitions, flea markets, even the Organic Store.  I am a complete beadaholic and if something catches my eye, it will absolutely come home with me for use at a later date. Swarovski crystals are my weakness and the colours, shapes and sizes of their Elements range are forever dazzling me. I buy them by the hundreds with no particular piece in mind.

Do you make all of the pieces yourself? What is the process from idea to finished product?

Yes, everything from start to finish. I start off with the focal stone, and then I think about what smaller beads will go with it. I never design or draw anything in advance, I just let the beads tell me where to go and I am constantly learning and acquiring new bits of knowledge. I often work on 4-5 pieces at one time and my workspace is forever increasing.

Beads are stitched, one by one, on to a felt or suede like base. When the embroidery part is finished, this is then attached to a soft leather or suede backing.  It can take up to 30 hours hours to complete one piece. Wearability and comfort is the most important thing to me and I want my pieces to fit the wearer as though it was made especially for them. For this reason, many pieces remain unfinished until they are bought, and then the clasps are added according to the measurements of the buyer.  I like to post pictures on my Facebook page which show my progress with each piece as I go along.

With custom pieces, I work together with the customer, using both their ideas and mine, to design their perfect piece.

Where is your main client base?

Europe and America

How do you find your customers?

I don’t avidly search for customers. A lot of contact is by word of mouth and also through Facebook and Instagram.

What are the challenges in making your creations known?

I much prefer creating to advertising or making my work ‘known’ so I have not come across any real challenges in that respect so far.

I found you via an Instagram post. Do you find social media important?

Definitely. It really makes my day when I stumble across an amazing designer, outfit or piece of jewellery that I may never have discovered without social media.  Pintrest is my favourite out of them all.  For my own brand, I think it is just great that people in all parts of the world, who I have never met, can see my work and connect with me through Facebook or Instagram.

Lakota Bijoux instagram

Do you create pieces other than your beautiful cuffs. For example, have you considered taking those skills and applying them to beautiful beaded handbags?

Oh absolutely. Actually, I have made bespoke pieces, including a bag, which I haven’t published pictures of. But yes, I would bead everything if I could. The amount of time each piece takes is the only thing that limits me. Cuffs are definitely my passion though, and I think you can completely change the look of an entire outfit with a perhaps “not so simple” piece on your wrist.

Where do you see the future of Lakota Bijoux?

Doing bigger, more daring pieces. My to do list includes large collar pieces and jackets.

Do you have any words of wisdom to pass on to other designers who want to launch their own business?

Focus on the product – it helps to be completely in love, possibly boarding on obsession, with what you do. Everything else will come naturally.

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OCTA BAG

OCTABAG LOGO

OCTA is a relatively new brand coming out of Thailand, which produces women’s bags in a variety of diamond shapes and gorgeous hues. The brand is currently only available online at its website at http://www.octabag.com and ships worldwide. Check out this brand, which is being coveted by celebrities and bloggers alike.

Recently, I interviewed the team behind OCTA bags. The interview is below.

BACKGROUND & BEGINNINGS

Who is behind OCTA bags?

The Founders of OCTA are two sisters from Thailand. The creative director of OCTA Sirikran Chaithavornsathien and her sister Thanya takes care of the operations side of the business.

What is the background of the people who are behind OCTA bags?

Our designer Sirikran is 27 years old. She didn’t graduate from fashion school, she studied Business Management but she loves fashion and is very creative. She mixed her knowledge of Marketing and her ability to design together and started doing what she loves.

Thanya is 31 years old and graduated from political school. She supported her sister in the creation of this brand.

How did OCTA bags come to be?

After she graduated, Sirikran wanted to build her own business and needed to decide between clothing and accessories. She discussed with her sister Thanya, who supported her to create womens bags.

A week later Sirikran drew an octagon bag, showed it to her sister and said “This is it”.

I assume that the name refers to the shape of many of your bags: octagonal. How did you come to this design?

OCTA means eight, which is Sirikran’s favourite number. Everything she creates, she put the symbol of eight behind it. She picked an emerald diamond to represent number eight and that became the concept of the brand.

On your website you’ve stated that “We want to create a mid high brand so, people can have a luxurious style in an affordable price”.  For example, your clutches start at US$235 for the Candy, your cross-body at $210 in the Octavia, and finish with the Davia top handle bag at $650. You also have the Octavia wallet currently available in 6 gorgeous colours for $145. How do you keep the prices reasonable without sacrificing the quality?

In each price range, there’s a difference in the finishing of the leathers and the details. For example, the Octavia is a plain design, we don’t add much detail to it and the leather is of a good grade but does not have any texture. For Davia, we use premium leathers with nice textures and there are a lot of details including the design of the shape.

As for the quality, we have highly skilled craftsmen, so that we can control their fineness and quality.

 Octabag photo 1

CREATIVE PROCESS

What is the process for creating a new piece? Do you simply draw it and then have it produced or do you start playing with the leathers and stones to get ideas?

Mostly, our designer will draw it and she will seek the materials and hardware herself. She will discuss it with the pattern maker and create a prototype. After that she will let a team comment upon it. She really loves stones and she’s developing them now.

You said that the designer loves the stones and is developing them now. Do you mean that she is creating her own stones for use or she is developing a range of bags around particular stones?

She is developing a range of bags around particular stones.

How do you stay inspired?

She loves to create new things, so she always observes a trend and combine it with her imagination. Most of her works express herself, her favourites and her style a lot.   

Do you make bags for different collections (seasonal or otherwise)?

We will start to do the seasonal bag next season.

Is there a theme for a collection?

Yes, we have a concept about the power of diamonds, which can control all women’s desire.  We will present it in monotone.

For example, at the moment you have some beautiful pastel colours. Are these intended for a Spring/Summer theme?

Actually, we launch all bags in pastel colors because we would like to express the freshness of our brand to seem like the tenderness of youth.

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PRODUCTION

Is Thailand your base because that’s also where your designers and founders are based?

Yes, it is.

The majority of your bags are made from leather.  Is this locally sourced and tanned leather? Is it cowhide?

It is cowhide and most of the leathers are from Italy and finished in Thailand.

What is involved in producing an OCTA bag?

  • Sourcing materials
  • Producing the prototype
  • Design proof

How long does it take for a single OCTA bag to be made? What are the processes involved?

It takes around a day for one single bag.

How did Sirikran go about sourcing people to make the bags?

The family has its own manufacturer.

Do you have people who work solely on OCTABAG such as your own production team?

Yes we do.

How did OCTA enter the competitive fashion market?

We start from social media (facebook and instagram) with the reasonable price and unique design. Customers then need to not be afraid to purchase even though they haven’t seen the products in real life. After that, it is word of mouth by customers, which helps us a lot for the message of reliability.

I found you via Instagram and to be honest it was that long ago that I don’t actually recall how, whether you liked one of my photos or I saw someone feature one of your bags. Do you find a lot of your website traffic and customers come from Instagram?

We would say all of our customers come from Instagram.

OCTABAG instagram feed 

How important is social media for a brand such as yours?

Now it is so important, as this is a method which is really effective when you have a low marketing budget. It also allows us to create awareness all over the world without travelling.

How do you find customers on Instagram? Do you actively like photos with particular hashtags or like photos taken by followers of particular pages to attract them to your page to discover your bags?

We have many influential pages feature our designs on their page, which attracts customers and followers .

REFLECTIONS

Do you have a favourite piece of all time?

The Asscher, it is the signature and it is the first design for OCTA

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How about from this collection?

Mini Davia in Tangerine

 MINI DAVIA TANGERINE

What are your best-selling pieces?

Asscher in Mint.

How does it feel when you see people wearing your pieces?

I feel like I’m successful, my products cannot be found in stores and we are nobody. If they have it, that means they had high enough an incentive to visit the website and decide to buy it.

Have you had any particularly notable moments when someone has worn one of your pieces?

I remember, I sat alone at the airport and could not stop smiling when I knew that Bar Refaeli was wearing my bag . I could feel that the girl next to me noticed and laugh at me. It’s a bit embarrassing but I couldn’t help it!

 Bar Rafaeli OCTABAG instagram post

How do you feel that your designs have evolved since you started out in 2012?

This is unbelievable! Within two years we have gone so far and faster than we’ve planned but we will make it better and better.

Do you have any words of wisdom to pass on to fellow designers hoping start their own label?

I want to tell them to start doing what they love. Sometimes passion can make you go further than knowledge. You can learn it while you do it. Imagination cannot be studied in class. You just need to know how to make it real.

FUTURE

What’s on the horizon for OCTA bag?

Within 5 years we aim to create OCTA SHOES, OCTA WATCHES and OCTA JEWELLERY. Watch this space!

BALYCK JEWELLERY

BALYCK JEWELLERY LOGO

Balyck Jewellery was started by Jessica Balyck in 2010, at the young age of 23, and has rapidly grown into a respected Australian jewellery brand. Based in Sydney, Jessica designs and creates the pieces herself.  Its motto “once adorned, forever transformed” is not only catchy but true of how you feel once you’ve worn her incredible, timeless pieces.

View Jessica’s latest collection, The White Lion at http://www.balyck.com

BALYCK White Lion Collection

Recently, I was lucky enough to interview Jessica Balyck. The interview is below.

BEGINNINGS

How old are you? How old were you when you started out?
I’m 26 (27 now in November) years of age. When I started studying fashion I was 19 and starting the Balyck label, 23.

I read that your jewellery making skills are self-taught. How did you go about teaching yourself?

It was through a lot of trial and error, research and watching others that I came to learn the craftsmanship of jewellery making. My father taught me it costs nothing to ask or to call someone to ask questions to learn and so I did just that. I would spend many hours sitting with people talking about the various methods or watching them but then would always have to practice repeatedly myself being the only true way I could learn.

You mention that your father telling you that it doesn’t cost anything to call someone to ask questions to learn was valuable advice. Has your Dad been a mentor to you?

My father is my hero. He has always encouraged me to do the impossible and pursue my dreams. He guides and advises me constantly even though we are in complete different fields; his belief in what I do is incredible.

Did you find that advice rang true? Did you call other jewellers for assistance and did you find they were willing to help or did they see you as a competitor and not want to assist?

Thanks to his advice, I took chances and met with people who have aided me through my journey and helped me develop along the way. Not so much other jewellers, more so people within the fashion industry, bloggers, photographers, designers and people who have started their own businesses. His advice indeed did ring true and I quickly learnt nothing will come by doing nothing.

When you started your studies at The Fashion Studio in Sydney , did you intend on starting a jewellery brand?

No initially, I never intended on starting a jewellery brand. I have always had a fascination with fashion and creating since before I could remember and loved all aspects of it. However prior to starting my course, I would make pieces of jewellery for myself to wear on a daily basis. I then went on to study and pursue fashion. I am extremely grateful I did this as it furthered my abilities to create, gain knowledge on the history of fashion and the styling and creative process. After the course though my passion remained with jewellery as I found I had more passion for it.

How did you start your brand?

The starting of the Balyck Label was a gradual process. To begin with I would make designs for myself to wear out and compliment outfits I had.  This then slowly caught the attention of my family and friends who I would then create pieces for. Seeing how much they loved the designs and how much I loved creating them gave birth to the idea of starting a label of my very own. This was followed by the long process of research to see if I could make this dream a reality.

Do you have any words of wisdom to pass on to fellow designers hoping start their own label?

I do. Finding what you love is a gift and if you’re lucky enough to have found one, do it justice by working hard at your trade for the more work you put into something the more results you will see. The results will be addictive. What they don’t tell you is that it won’t just come overnight. Many people have a “gift”; it takes consistent work, though if you love what you want to do, I promise you are already one step ahead.

As my father always say’s “it costs nothing to talk to someone to learn” so talk and get in contact with people who have established themselves or have started their own label listen to their process what they have found to be successful or where they have failed and take note. You will be surprised who will be willing to help as we all had to start from somewhere and some of the most amazing knowledge I have gained was just by putting myself out there asking others much more advanced than me if they would like to get a coffee and discuss ideas.

Most importantly find your point of difference because sometimes the thing that separates you from everyone else is your sheer determination to succeed.

BALYCK

CREATIVE PROCESS

When you are creating a new collection, how do you find inspiration?

Inspiration comes to me in all shapes and forms: my surroundings, my dreams and the things I hold close to myself. Often, it’s when I am actually doing things that are non-creative related and am in a relaxed state as I’m not pressured.

What is the process for creating a new piece? Do you simply draw it and then create it or do you start playing with the metals etc. to get ideas?

Most of the time I start pulling out material in my studio depending on what the theme or inspiration of the collection is (and as you can imagine I would be surrounded by trinkets of all sorts) and through trial and error objects start to form before my eyes. My creative process isn’t really structured or organized prior. I start to create pieces and then let that dictate what will be added or need to be sourced in order to be completed. Sometimes it can take a while as it can be the matter of changing one design feature to differentiate it from being ordinary to extraordinary.

How do you stay inspired?

I constantly surrounded myself in the fashion world and creative people who share the same passions, my love of travel and most importantly my family.

Are you influenced by current fashion trends during the creative process?

No not really. I’m appreciative of current fashion though I’ve never been one to be dictated by it. I personally prefer timeless pieces and when buying something for myself or creating, I will always invest in good quality and design, which is what I try to create for people myself.

Do you work to a season when creating your pieces?

No, I like to create pieces that are versatile and non-seasonal so that people are not limited as to how long, for what or where they can wear them.

How many collections do you create each year?

For the moment, it is one main collection a year, though shortly I will be releasing the “Trinity” collection which is a bridal capsule collection with The Dark horse and Wedded Wonderland. There will also be the introduction to my new men’s designs to the Balyck Label.

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PRODUCTION

One of the things that really appeals to me about your designs, apart from their beauty, is that you are a part of the anti-mass-produced fashion movement.  In doing so, you have kept production in-house. Do you have any others in your team that assist with the production process?

I solder set and make everything myself in-house though I send the designs out to get plated as I do not have the resources to do this. I like to keep everything onshore as I am extremely supportive of the Australian fashion industry and working with other businesses like my own. I know it would be a lot easier/cheaper to go offshore or have others do the work for me though I think if I did this it would lose everything I love in the first place about creating and bringing special pieces made by myself to my customers. As the label expands though, I know eventually I will need help and I plan to hire other like-minded creatives who have similar passions to help me do so supporting our Australian economy.

You do your own designing and soldering but plating is contracted out. So for example, with a piece like the Lion Head Cuff, do you make your own moulds and soldering?

The moulds I sketch or I find a photo of an object I like and then that is also contracted out here in Sydney and made for me. But an example of the lion head cuff would be how I found a photo of the lion and asked for it to be made into a mould, I then sourced the base cuff and soldered them together, followed by being sent out to be plated and brought back for me to set the stones and ring.

BALYCK Lion Head Cuff

Your pieces are all hand-made in Sydney, how many of each piece do you make? Do you have a cap on how many of each piece you will make or is it simply driven by demand?

I Have put a cap of 100 of each design/colour way. As I ultimately would like to build a reputation and be known for that when Balyck releases the main collections, once the pieces are sold out they will not be reproduced. For me, it’s not about mass production though but creating limited pieces that hold special memories to the people who buy them and want something special.

CHALLENGES

What are the challenges in keeping production on-shore in Australia when most fashion brands are opting to have their products made in China?

First and foremost cost. Things would be quite significantly cheaper offshore, however I think the quality of Australian made products opposed to Chinese speak for themselves. I also like that I can oversee and control the whole process bringing the finest quality to my clientele.

How do you keep your pricing competitive with those brands that are making their products overseas?

My label itself targets a niche market that appreciates quality over quantity so the prices are not as cheap as other brands producing their designs overseas though I try when creating and pricing the collection to cater and vary the pricing from low to high so everyone can enjoy and buy from the label.  Also, even though the prices may be higher than the mass-produced labels, the Balyck collections are designed and created to be worn many different ways to give customers value for their product enabling them to wear it for a long time opposed to these companies that produce pieces that are seasonal, a current trend or of cheaper quality.

Your company is relatively new, having only been launched in 2010. How do you break into the competitive fashion market?

One of the most important things is recognising your point of difference and focusing on that. I mould the label around my clientele and target market catering to their needs and what I would like to deliver to them. There are so many talented people competing in the fashion market, however the Balyck label is focusing on a niche market.

One of the most beautiful things about Australia and the opportunity it has to offer is that you can immerse yourself in the fashion industry, work hard and make brilliant contacts, which will then lead you to work with the larger labels, celebrities and bloggers. An opportunity, which I think would be a lot harder to come by elsewhere.

You’ve said that it is important to recognise one of your points of difference and focus on it. What would you say your point of difference is?

I think my main point of focus is everything is made and overseen by myself and made here in Sydney. I want to give the best possible result to my clients and I want them to know that I’m there to deliver all those finer touches to make the product special to them.

You’ve said that you mould the label around client and your target market and that you’re focussing on a niche market. Who is your target market?

My target market would have to be those who appreciate fashion, quality and timeless pieces.

BALYCK White Lion Collection

LATEST COLLECTION

Your latest collection is called The White Lion. Can you please tell us a little about it.

The White Lion collection was created to be worn as individual pieces of art or worn all together as a dynamic runway statement. When creating this collection I kept in mind the customer and what I visualized them to feel when wearing the designs. I wanted it to empower them and evoke a special memory of the moment they bought the design and would wear it. I think one of the most important things we have is our memories and if I can provide happiness through my designs for my customers then I have succeeded in everything I want to accomplish. The most important factors of the collection are that they would be versatile and timeless.

Does the lion hold a special place for you?

The lion Does hold a special place for me. In my travels when I was In Taormina in Italy, I took a beautiful photo of an exquisite old lion door knocker. I loved the quality and craftsmanship of the lion and was instantly inspired to create a collection around this. The name “The White Lion” then contributed to the rarity of the collection and what Balyck jewellery is trying to embody.

On your website, it is stated that you were inspired by medieval times when creating this collection. What did you draw your inspiration from? How did you come to be inspired by medieval times?

I love history and how we have progressed over time. One of the main things I was inspired by from the medieval times is how they created incredible pieces of jewellery and designs with such limited resources and materials and still of great quality.

Do you have a special piece from this collection?

My favourite design would have to be the lion head cuff as it was something I initially made for myself after falling in love with the beautiful door knocker which then went on to give birth to an entire collection.

This collection is “limited edition”, again in a move against mass-produced fashion. How many of each piece are you making?

100 of each design and/or colourway

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REFLECTIONS

Do you have a favourite piece of all time?

I made a one-off lion necklace encased in silk that I wear all the time.

How about from this collection?

From this collection I wear daily the linked lion rings in silver.

What are your best-selling pieces?

The linked lion rings have been by far the best seller.

BALYCK Lion Rings

How does it feel when you see people wearing your pieces?

I am honoured and extremely flattered. When I see people wearing my designs, I feel like I have done my job and am happy to have contributed to the fashion world. It’s all quite surreal really.

Have you had any particularly notable moments when someone has worn one of your pieces?

Yes, it was a beautiful moment when Dannii Minogue wore my jewellery on Australia’s Got Talent, Karise Eden, the winner of The Voice and working with various Australian bloggers. One of my all time favourite moments was when I was interviewed by FTV for Balyck jewellery, having grown up watching and loving everything about it.

Dannii Minogue BALYCK Cage RingDannii Minogue BALYCK Cage Ring2

(Images from Danii Minogue’s tumbler page)

How do you feel that your designs have evolved since you started out in 2010?

I feel like I have developed stronger branding and sense of direction for what Balyck is and its specific clientele and designing for them. I have learnt further methods of creating and intend on continuing to do so to bring the best quality products to everyone.

instagram balyck 2

FUTURE

What are your plans for the future?

I intend on continuing to expand into the Australian market and becoming a household name, working with like-minded creative people. Being primarily online focused, I would like to from next year’s collection distribute to shops within Australia and then internationally.

And that has been Jessica Balyck from BALYCK JEWELLERY. Keep an eye out for her in boutiques in 2015. In the meantime, check out her beautiful pieces on her website at http://www.balyck.com.au