An Entrepreneur is one who turns a hobby to awareness-creating business! The Millennial Hub caught up with Sara Nazoor – founder of upcycled Jewellery brand ALKE in Sri Lanka! Here’s an inspiring story.
A self taught jewellery artist, a mother and a mental health advocate!
“Making jewellery was my hobby when I was 13. After my advanced level exam I went on to study psychology, and work in the community. I volunteered in the mental health field and the fashion industry.”
Tell us about your journey as an entrepreneur and the launch of ALKE?
In association with the Colombo Design Market, ALKE was launched in 2014. It focused on making handmade quality jewellery and repairing jewellery. In 2015, I got the opportunity to participate in Art Walk. I showcased my collection of 10 pieces, inspired by selfies. Motivated by this I participated in the International Art and Design Competition 2016 conducted by Aademia Riaci, Florence, Italy. The pieces were placed 3rd in the jewellery making, amateur category.
In 2017 I mentored local craftsmen for collaboration between the National Craft Council and Colombo Design Market. After almost 3 years and a walk around the country I decided to make some changes and re-launch the label in 2020. The label now focuses on sustainable designer jewellery.
What led you or what inspired you to come up with ALKE?
Started this venture as just a reason to continue making jewellery. The income from ALKE helped me buy material and a lot more.
Tell us about the jewellery, how are they unique and what is your Inspiration behind your designs?
My personal experience has inspired me. How I perceive my experience, events that unfold around me, my environment, emotions and vibrant people around me. After my husband was diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder I was equipping myself to take care of him. This was how the human nervous system inspired my previous collection.
It’s not one subject or an event that inspires me, it’s a group of events and how I choose to respond to it. Each piece of jewellery is unique as its design, time, effort and attention put into it is enormours. They are mostly handmade with upcycled eco-friendly material. We use PET bottles, fabric, paper, thread combined with base metal like brass or precious metal like silver and gold.
Caption: The neck piece made using safety pins represent the sandy golden beaches of the island. The coloured seed beads represent the different colours.
(Concept photographs by Sara Nazoor and Musab Nalir)
As an entrepreneur what were your respective personal goals for the start-up?
There are few goals some which I have yet to achieve,
- Establish ALKE as a designer jewellery label in the island.
- Contribute to the slow and sustainable fashion movement
- Empower our the community of craftsman and makers
What were the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
Personally and externally, there were many challenges. One was time management as I had to dedicate quite a lot of my day to my toddler. Next was understanding the concept of business, basics of finances and marketing. It was something foreign to me, and as a small business I couldn’t hire too many people and I had to learn everything. Luckily with the help of a Boot camp for women entrepreneurs organized by Hatch, I was able to understand the various aspects of business the social media. It has introduced me to a community of supportive entrepreneurs and has helped me to grow as a person and as an entrepreneur.
What unseen opportunities did you see that resulted making your start-up a huge success?
I wouldn’t say that ALKE is a huge success yet! I believe that being able to make designer unique and artistic jewellery combining different materials is the opportunity I saw. The fashion industries worldwide are moving towards a sustainable model. In Sri Lanka we use traditional materials to make jewellery.
Caption : (Concept photographs by Sara Nazoor and Musab Nalir)
What is your advice on how to become a successful entrepreneur?
- I would say solve a real problem
- Start small you can’t create a revolution over night
- Equip yourself with knowledge and always be humble and ready to learn.
- Set up your own processes and be flexible to change.
- It is essential to try to do what you’re most afraid of. Fear of failure tends to stop us from opening ourselves to opportunities. You wouldn’t know if you will fail or flourish if you never opened yourself up. Do what terrifies you and give it your best!
“Don’t take any opportunity for granted! Learn from everything, and take a break if you want to. Don’t give up on your dreams. Not everyone will understand you at the beginning and its okay.” – Sara Nazoor
You may find ALKE on: Instagram : @alke_19 | Facebook : ALKEhandmadejewellery