If you are looking for a truly unique gift for that special occasion – whether it is for your girlfriend, your sister, your mum or your grandmother – look no further. Savage Jewellery is not only beautiful and original, but it’s proudly South African too!

Through a Q&A session Nicola Savage tells us how her little jewellery business started and how much she is enjoying the rewards it’s bringing.

Q: How did it all start?

A: I started selling my jewellery while I was still studying jewellery design at Durban University of Technology. This gave me an insight into the market, and gave me the encouragement to continue on my own once I had completed my studies in 2000. I felt that South Africa was desperate for some original jewellery, as most of the other jewellery out there was very commercial or imported from the East. The contemporary jewellery market has definitely grown now, and thankfully more shops are prepared to stock it.

Q: Tell me about your product and how it’s unique

A: I would consider myself a contemporary jewellery designer, and I really enjoy the designing part as well as coming up with new ideas. I have a definite style – I have a few ranges that I am continually adding to and improving. I feel that my pieces transcend time and are the kind of pieces that you will continue wearing for years to come. I am interested in shapes and textures, so as a result my pieces tend to be rather simple in essence. Perhaps this is why I feel that they are timeless! My clientele is also very diverse; a 16-year-old and a 70-year-old will both wear my pieces.

Q: Tell me about your staff

A: I am a one woman band! I do all my own designing and most of the manufacturing. However I will employ students in their holidays – when I need extra help.

Q: What are the main challenges when running your own business?

A: I am a small business and do almost everything myself, which can be really trying!

Q: What are the main rewards when running your own business?

A: You are your own boss and can take time off whenever you need to. This is especially handy for me now that I have a young son! Another thing that is rewarding is seeing people I don’t know wearing my jewellery. Or I might be watching TV and see someone wearing a piece that I have made. A pair of my earrings has just been on the cover of Rooi Roos – this was very exciting! It’s also awesome when a customer is as excited about a new design as I am.

Q: What do you think makes your business a successful one?

A: I believe my business is successful because of the fact that I have remained small and retained the personal side to it.

Q: How important is the location of your outlet?

A: I sell my products in other shops and galleries, so the locations of these places are very important. And I am soon moving my workshop into the back of a shop called Mooi – where they sell clothes, bags, jewellery etc. It will definitely be interesting to see what affect this could have on my business!

Q: How important is marketing? What type of marketing do you invest in?

A: I believe marketing is very important. You can have a fantastic product, but if no one knows about it, it won’t sell. I just try to get my name out there by taking part in exhibitions such as the Design Indaba – as I believe this will remind people that I am still around! I must admit I could personally work a bit harder on the marketing side, so I am busy getting a website together. But it is proving to take much longer than expected…

Q: Tell me how your business is Proudly South African

A: I am South African, and I would like to think that my designs are South African too – as I definitely take inspiration from my surroundings.

Q: What advice can you give to someone starting their own business?

A: It takes a lot of hard work and a bit of luck. It will not happen over night, and you have to be patient and prepared to come across some dead ends… but just turn around and find the freeway!

For more information, e-mail nicola@savagejewellery.com

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