Interview with Emma Balaes from Vioella Jewellery
Every girl is on the lookout for that perfect piece of jewellery; something distinctive which is also timeless, so you can wear it again and again. Vioella Jewellery provides just that. Emma Balaes, the founder of Vioella, started making jewellery and selling it in boutiques in London in 2004 and because of its great success, decided to launch an online boutique.
Vioella goes to great lengths to source the best quality materials, often searching for small family suppliers instead of big companies. They also work closely with artisans and jewellers in Istanbul, giving them the opportunity to grow while bringing the exciting vibrant pieces from the Grand Bazaar right to your doorstep!
What is the background behind Vioella? Why did you start the business and what attracted you to accessories?
I started designing and making jewellery in 2004 when I attended a silversmithing course. I had left my role as a marketing executive the previous year, as the role required extensive travel and I had just had my first child.
I found that I really enjoyed making jewellery and this hobby swiftly turned into a little money maker when I was approached by many people about my jewellery. I continued doing a lot of different courses in jewellery and eventually was approached by a boutique owner in London. She decided to stock a few pieces and they sold really well. Word got around and then I was approached by another boutique owner and began selling through her London shop, also.
When I became pregnant with my second child in 2006, I took a break from jewellery making but still kept on top of research and attended any courses that would add to my abilities and designs. The next steps really were all driven because of comments received from friends. People who saw my jewellery wanted it!
What materials do you use in your collections?
All materials used are from trusted suppliers that are ethically and environmentally conscious. Vioella uses sterling silver and gold vermeil, a huge variety of semi-precious stones, as well as seasonal features, for example, silk for the hand threaded silk chains in this season’s collection Takara.
Tell us about the design process from beginning to end. What is a typical day for you?
It’s incredibly difficult to describe a typical day as literally no two days are the same. I always aim to start the day with a catch-up meeting with my business partner, where we will discuss where we are with designs, orders, finances and if there are any issues that I need to be made aware of and what planning is required for future meetings – be that with suppliers, boutiques, a PR company, or journalists. Following that I will work in the studio on completing orders for the day, which is obviously very intricate and focused work. Once all the orders are made, I will generally work on current market research (who’s wearing what and where!), new designs and taking/editing photographs. I will quite often work late into the night on designs, as I get so involved I simply lose track of time!
The design process from beginning to end in a nutshell: starts with my pencil drawings and notes, followed by sourcing appropriate materials, if required. Next, making and trying out a test piece for assessment (this includes look, wear, feel, comfort, adaptability to outfits and feedback). These initial stages can vary immensely in time from start to finish, depending on the complexity of the piece. If at this stage I am completely happy that I have created a piece that meets the Vioella standards, it will then be priced, loaded onto our websites, taken to boutiques and sold!
How did you come up with the name Vioella?
Vioella is a combination of my two daughter’s names (Violet and Gabriella), so the business is obviously very close to my heart!
Who/what is the inspiration behind your designs?
I have a passion for travel, in particular the Middle East and India and this often comes through in my designs, but obviously upcoming and current trends will also have an influence. I like pieces to have meaning, whether the stones have healing effects or the charms have a message. It is also important that each Vioella piece will last and most are timeless. Each season sees a new collection containing an average of 20 pieces that are all related in some way.
Which jewellery pieces should every girl have this season?
The relationship we have with our jewellery is very different from the relationship we have with our clothes. Why do you think that is?
Jewellery is an item that you almost form a bond with, unlike any piece of clothing. Vioella pieces are so adaptable that they can be worn at the most formal of occasions right down to a night at a friend’s house and yet still have the ability to transform your look. There is no feeling in the world like putting on a fabulous piece of jewellery that you love, no matter what you are wearing – it has the power to give you that added spark of confidence.
Each piece makes a great statement – what kind of women wear Vioella Jewellery?
Vioella women! Women who want something more than a high street accessory. One of our key lines is: “Vioella…is for the discerning woman with an eye for current trends and unsurpassed quality. Vioella customers will delight in an individual service which will exceed expectations.” We provide a service and a piece which has a lasting effect and makes the women who wear Vioella feel individual and special every time they put on a Vioella item.
Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
Finally, what’s next for Vioella?
We are already working on our spring collection for 2013, as it is so important to keep ahead of the trends and always be planning ahead. Based on our success we are also currently looking to expand into men’s jewellery, a children’s range and potentially additional bespoke accessories. But the heart of Vioella is that we must keep delivering an unrivalled product of exceptional quality that our clients will love and be proud to wear, just as we are of Vioella!
Take a look at the website here and see if you can find a distinctive piece of Vioella Jewellery to add to your collection.