Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Pieces of a Dream Job: Natasha & Semhal from La Diosa

La Diosa is an exclusive jewellery range created by young entrepreneurs, Natasha Faith and Semhal Zemikael. The London based duo travelled the world to seek inspiration for their designs, vising far flung locations such as the Mayan ruins of Mexico, Thailand, Tokyo and Malaysia. The result is La Diosa - a striking collection of hand-made original jewellery pieces.

Natasha and Semhal have also won a string of accolades including The Precious Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2008, finalists of the Cosmopolitan Awards 2008- and voted in the Top 3 young UK Entrepreneurs, LaunchLab UK. They are also sponsors of the Girls! Make Your Mark Awards. Here's their story.

We earn a living by designing statement jewellery that is unique, fabulous and empowering. La Diosa is stocked in Harvey Nichols and an exclusive boutique in Chelsea. Our company is set to launch in New York next year and our whole team is very excited about that! We work hard and it's starting to show.

The moment we knew we wanted to be jewelry designers was when we visited the ruins of Chichinitza in Mexico. The jewellery that these women and men would adorn themselves with was simply phenomenal. I remember standing in a resound silence as I focused on the bead work and detail of some of the necklaces and earrings and I finally had to ask someone, "How and why did they wear such huge pieces of jewellery?" The response Sem and I both received was the turning point of our future, "These women and men would wear each piece with pride and honour. The more striking the piece, the more powerful the individual." At that moment I knew that jewellery in the modern sense could mean so much more than a fashion item, it could portray power, beauty and mystery. These three characteristics are synonymous to a Goddess like the very women who wore this "power jewellery", hence our name La Diosa, The Goddess in Spanish.

Our story on how we entered the industry is a complicated one! We are not your typical designers who studied in a particularly academic way (Natasha). I strongly believe it is not necessary to go to university to become a successful business person. In fact I think in some cases it can damage your creativity and lead you to become institutionalised. So we decided to travel and gain some inspiration and knowledge at the same time. The experience was rewarding in itself, but what we have achieved as result is amazing (Sem).

I would say that the relationship we have is very much like a sisterly one. We argue and love just like family. Because of this we had to figure out a way that we could debate professionally without the other person taking it personally. It took some time to get there but after living in someones pockets for almost a year abroad you learn to respect them. We both understand that the empire we are building cannot survive without the other.

The highlight of my career thus far has been seeing the look on my mother's face when we won Entrepreneur of the Year at the Precious Awards. Before then it would be safe to say that there has been so many highlights that it is difficult to pin just one (Natasha).

I would be lying if I said running a business was easy. We face challenges constantly, meaning we always have to be on our toes and be ready to face the situation head on. The key to dealing with challenges is learning from them! Making mistakes and learning from them are the best lessons you can learn. No business course can teach you that (Sem).

The advice we would give to others trying to break into the industry is just go for it! The hardest part of business is sometimes actually starting believe it or not. So many people wish for their own careers but procrastination and fear of failure are quick to stop them. The fear of failure is a big one, but you need to make a choice.. Will you finally take the risk, challenge yourself and prosper or will spend the rest of your life wondering "what if...?" Just make sure that whatever it is you decide to do it's because you love it more than the money.

Banks can be difficult so we never approached them! The Prince's Trust saw potential in us. We had a good plan, did the legwork and were without a doubt passionate about our venture so they were happy to support La Diosa. When you have a strong business plan funding can become easier to access, however if you have the right people running the business then capital can become even more available. Banks and organisations invest in people more than plans.

Our future ambitions include launching "La Diosa Possessions". Possessions will include a range of statement handbags, sunglasses and shoes. We'll also be launching "Dios", our new jewellery range for men. We also aim to build on our celebrity client list, launch in New York next year and build our brand to become an international powerhouse - so watch out.

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I am a thirty-something African Caribbean female from South East London. My blog will shine a light on Black British culture offering the best in entertainment, fashion, beauty, community, film & music, with the occasional personal musing thrown in from yours truly. Thank you for taking out the time to peek into the pages of my diary. Now grab a cup of cocoa, relax and enjoy.