Payal Shah of L’Dezen Jewelry talks Entrepreneurship
01 Jun, 2013
Article by Cindy Maram
Dig In Magazine recently had the opportunity to connect with Hong Kong’s Payal Shah, Miss Hong Kong Jewellery 2011. Indian in ethnicity and raised in Hong Kong, Shah is the first non-Chinese contestant and winner in the history of Hong Kong based pageants to win. Educated in London, she studied architecture providing her with design and problem solving skills which contributed to her business acumen. At the age of 23, she is an entrepreneur and Owner/CEO of L’Dezen, a jewelry company which has received many accolades for design around the world.
Dig In Magazine: What does the name of your jewelry company, 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.
DIM: How did your company come about and how long have you been in business?
PS: L’ Dezen is an international brand that offers 18K gold diamond hand made jewellery items manufactured in house in Shun De, China. Because of each piece being one-of-a-kind, as well as the materials used such as slice, rose-cuts and fancy colored diamonds, it has a small number of inventories making it a niche product and brand in the jewellery industry. Our customers like our jewellery, are very unique and we distribute all over ranging from Hong Kong to other parts of Asia, USA, Europe, UK, and Russia. As a brand only founded in 2011, we have slowly, however efficiently taken a slice of many different markets. My collection is comprised of varying fine jewelry styles, from statement necklaces, cocktail and fashionable rings, chandelier and stud earrings, extravagant bracelets and bangles to simple pendants. Having won many design awards e.g. by HKTDC, Hong Kong and A’ Design Awards, Milan and I was ‘Young Leader Under 30’ honoree at The JNA Awards 2012 has given added value and increased our brand equity significantly!
DIM: What is your background in fashion, jewelry and design?
PS: I don’t really have a legitimate background in jewellery or fashion. But I did study Architectural Design and Interior Design in London. I worked with Fashion TV one summer too, so my love for fashion purely comes from passion. For a year before I launched L’ Dezen, I was working in a hospitality design firm – designing furniture’s like coffee tables and upholstery for renowned hotels. A common theme between the two design paths I have taken is I like to challenge the ideals of traditional jewellery by blending conventional materials to create neoteric pieces. My upbringing has to be the number one reason for how I am shaped today. Having a family has been so genuine and inspiring had added value to my experiences too. I love and have travelled to almost all cotenants of the world where I have taken in all inspirations through art, photography, culture, business, technology and fashion, which I share with my followers on social media such as twitter and instagram quite frequently.
DIM: Where were you educated and where have you lived most of your life?
PS: I am raised in Hong Kong throughout 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. This led me 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. By this point I had concluded: 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.
DIM: What is your cultural background and how did you come to live in Hong Kong?
PS: I am Indian in ethnicity. I adore my Indian values, festivals and family but respect the local Hong Kong I have lived by too. I have the utmost love for both cultures, as they are equally personal to me! I moved to Hong Kong when just a few months old along with my parents as this is where they started their business too! Hong Kong is my ultimate home where I have had some of my biggest milestones.
DIM: How was it winning the Miss Hong Kong Jewellery title in 2011?
PS: Winning Miss Hong Kong Jewellery 1st Runner up was a complete different experience for me. I actually competed with the mind set that it would be great exposure as it was also around the time I started L’ Dezen. It got me familiarized in the Hong Kong and Chinese community as well as a status within the Hong Kong Jewellery Manufacturing Association. The competition itself was tough – I had to loose a few pounds, restructure and improve my poise and even learn quite a bit of Cantonese. Overall, an experience I’ll never forget as it taught me so much about myself!
DIM: What types of opportunities were you granted as a result of your crown?
PS: As a pageant winner, I was basically part of endorsing the Hong Kong Jewellery and Manufacturing industry. I wore and promoted jewellery that wasn’t even designed by me but sponsored by some interesting designers. I was introduced to the whole Hong Kong Jewellery industry in a matter of months, which really helped my jewellery brand in the long run. Especially when some of the trade shows I do are organized by Hong Kong association, I had build a network where I was able to reach out to organizers on a more personal level.
I was also constantly on the local news and media. This was interesting to see as there would be all the Chinese contestants and then – then this brown girl. I was the first non-Chinese contestant and winner in the history of Hong Kong based pageants so it defiantly felt great!
DIM: How would you describe your 4 collections: Fierce, Violetta, Puri Di Cuore and Venom Chadonne? What inspires each of the collections?
PS: My collections are signified using distinctive styles:
The Fierce collection: The dare to rare perception.
The Fierce Collection is our most elaborate collection creating animal print patterns from rose cuts and slice diamonds with contrasting colors. Each diamond piece is outlined in black to give strong graphic elements on the jewellery pieces. It’s all about getting wild, being Fierce!
The Violetta collection: The feminine perception
The Violetta Collection is petal pretty. Creating 3 dimensionally giving the floral and naturalistic designs like flowers, butterflies and paisley patterns in a soft sophisticated structure and giving it a sense of life. Available in rose, yellow and white gold or even mixes of gold, gives this collection endless variety. Oh la la, Violetta!
The Venom Chadonne – The Bold Perception. The Venom Collection is all about being solid bold. Each piece is more high-end exclusive and requires the most time and intricacy to manufacture, as most of the pieces are more extravagant compared to other collections giving it an elegant aura.
The Puri Di Cuore – The simplistic Perception. Inspired from one of my favorite architect, Mies Van Der Rohe, creating contemporary jewellery, in a new style that could represent modern times just as Classical and Gothic did for their own eras. Each piece’s design states with extreme clarity and simplicity – Focusing on the diamond setting and craftsmanship. This collection is soothes the day, and rocks the evening – All day, Everyday.
DIM: Who are some of the Hollywood celebrities that have worn L’Dezen?
PS: As only being launched two years ago, this year we have got quite a bit of celebrity exposure. 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 and fashionistas featuring in/of L’ Dezen.
DIM: Where is L’Dezen sold?
PS: L’ Dezen has leveraged from trade shows around the world where we started getting a lot of attention from retailers and wholesalers. The brand ‘L’ Dezen’ officially retails in Hong Kong, New York, Istanbul, Russia and are also on a e-commerce website based out of the UK.
DIM: Where do you get your entrepreneurial spirit?
PS: ‘Impossible is nothing’ – I set my goals high and aspirations even higher in most of what I do – especially when launching L’ Dezen. I was 21 years old, female debuting in an industry where men dominate the leadership positions in most jewellery organisations. Being young I balance having patience yet still be highly motivated. Entrepreneurship keeps me enthused – It’s the ‘Do it now!’ spirit that results from it. It takes time to start a business the right way and I have learned with time, that a countless numbers of failure has been the route to some of my biggest successes = STAY MOTIVATED.
DIM: What other projects are you working on?
PS: I am a HUGE tech fanatic. I love gadgets, applications, social media and everything that basically breathes on battery life. I’ve watched most tech related shows from Tech-Stars, The Pitch to Startup at Silicon Valley (Although that got cancelled after the first season). I remember last year sometime, an idea popped into my head – for an app! I pitched it to a few friends and refined it to a product where I thought could meet every social plugin we can offer today as well as complete a tiny gap that is still available in this industry. I pitched it to a friend, Manav Gupta, CEO of Fabriqate.com – who loved it too! Now we are in the final stages of finishing the first version of my new and upcoming project: MasterPlanIt.com – Meeting room away from the meeting room. – Its not really anything related with my jewellery business but L’ Dezen was surely part of the inspiration behind it. I’m not going to expose too much yet but I have a facebook and twitter page running if you are interested in knowing more – so feel free to follow!
DIM: You’ve lived all over the world and accomplished so much at the young age of 23, what would else would you like to accomplish and do life…in business and beyond?
PS: The best ideas have come to me by living in the future and then thinking to myself – what’s missing? As a part of generation Y – life around us is moving in a matter of a blink of an eye. My aim is to make every second of these moments count. Whether it is spending quality time with the family and friends or working on my next big idea – Live all of it to the fullest. I want L’ Dezen to be recognized as an inspiration in our day and time – signifying that with hard work and some luck can result in living your dreams! As a designer, I want to contribute to the world by expressing myself through my designs – and maybe one of these days, you will too be wearing a piece by L’ Dezen.