The application process for IJL’s 2016 prestigious KickStart is open!
As we start the search for emerging UK designers to mentor and help take their business to the next level, we spoke to Laura Parra, one of last year’s finalists and the People’s Choice Winner – about what it meant to be part of the competition – and to win the prize of exhibiting at IJl 2016.
IJL: Tell us a little bit about your jewellery background and why you chose to enter IJL’s KickStart
LP: My background is in the arts so studying to become a jewellery designer was a natural progression for me when I first arrived in London. Applying for the KickStart Initiative was an easy decision to make as it really boosts the audience for my designs and is an excellent opportunity to connect with new stockists and buyers. Knowing it is supported by the National Association of Jewellers is amazing, providing an excellent support network to help promote and develop my company. As a new business this type of help is invaluable.
IJL: Which products did you showcase in the competition
LP: I showcased my Enlace Collection, which is my first, complete collection. It is full of colour - lots of beautiful gemstones in a myriad of shades - and I think, a little different to some of the pieces that are out there at the moment. My designs are all handmade and hand crafted, most of them are unique and distinctive, unlike much of what you can find now which uses a lot of CAD...everything very perfect, angular and geometric. I think my designs stand out because they are quite organic and embrace colour.
IJL: How did you feel about being selected the KickStart People’s Choice Winner
LP: Over the moon? No! To the next galaxy! To receive recognition from the public, to be chosen by them is incredible, I am beyond words. I am happy to be chosen as a 'KickStarter' because the initiative promotes fresh, exciting and innovative jewellery and it’s nice to be given that recognition for my designs.
IJL: So thinking back to Olympia and IJL2015. How did you find the experience of displaying your collection on the KickStart stand?
LP: I wasn't sure what to expect so the outcome was amazing, a huge boost to my confidence as a new designer. I received so much positive feedback - as a KickStarter you are visible to so many different people, fellow designers, buyers, potential clients and the press. Everyone has been very supportive which has helped to strengthen my faith in my designs.
IJL: So what has happened since we last saw you at IJL, and what has been the impact of KickStart on your business?
LP: It has been a fantastic experience, I received lot more orders than I expected, I made lots of new connections and the whole experience has helped propel me on to create a brand new collection, my 'Medieval Collection'. Everything about KickStarter has been brilliant.
IJL: Why you would encourage people to enter KickStart 2016?
LP: I cannot think of a better way to get in to the industry, to gain the support, connections and press coverage as a designer that can help a young designer on to developing a successful business. It has been a truly wonderful experience for me, I couldn’t be more encouraging to new designers - you won't regret it, go for it!
Laura Parra will be exhibiting at IJL 2016 on Stand Q58, and you can find out more about her collections here www.laparrajewels.com
10 up-and-coming designers will be selected by the NAJ and IJL to have the unique opportunity to showcase their jewellery at IJL 2016 on a group stand in the prestigious Design Gallery. With exposure to over 9,000 buyers and leading industry experts at the show, the winners will have the opportunity to attend a special training day before the event, covering all aspects of brand promotion. The NAJ will also provide mentoring following IJL.
Find out more and complete the 2016 KickStart Application Form here