I have always loved the world of jewellery, fashion and design. I have a very strong creative streak. I like to accessorize all my outfits and love antique jewellery (I’m a little bit of a history geek). I love that antique jewellery pieces have a history and that they had been on a journey with a story to tell and that they are uniquely individual. During secondary school, I completed several jewellery-making courses and was instantly hooked. I was lucky enough to be accepted into the RMIT Gold and Silversmith Fine Arts program. Only 14 places are available throughout Australia. (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University) I have also acquired further skills by attending several residential jewellery schools in Florence, Italy. I love the process of creating and seeing my piece evolve using my hands. I also like the idea that I am creating artifact, pieces that can be handed down from generation to generation. For me it is pretty cool that the jewels I am creating today will become treasures with journeys traveled and stories to tell. I decided to launch my own jewellery brand in 2009, Katherine Alexandra Brunacci Jewellery, after completing a Master of Fine Arts at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. I wanted to create jewellery that I wanted to wear, big, solid, sterling silver statement pieces. I felt that there was a gap in my local market, so I decided to fill it! I have a unique design aesthetic, I am fiercely independent and I wanted to create my own look without restriction. The year I finished my Masters degree 2009, an opportunity presented itself for a studio and small retail outlet in my local town, Gallery Fifty Four, Launceston Tasmania, so I bit the bullet and went for it.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Brand awareness and starting a new brand in the current economical environment. To over come this, patience, persistence and above all passion were and are key. In my career there are many knock backs and it can be very disheartening to begin with.I believe strongly that success is how one deal with failure. I think it is also really important to be open to advice from industry experts. Next year my label, Katherine Alexandra Brunacci Jewellery, www.kabrunacci.com, will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary and the label is stronger than ever.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
I am a bit of a jewellery history geek. The latest publication from the British Museum “Jewellery and men in Tudor and Jacobean England” I am currently working on a men’s line and am finding some very interesting historical references.
I find autobiographies of fellow entrepreneurs very motivating and these are what I would recommend. Starting out you can feel isolated. It is reassuring to discover that others have been in similar situations and have strived through.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
I have felt contention and still do from some members of my family and friends. To begin with I found this very hard, as I believed that if I was happy and doing what I loved, family member should also be happy. Over time though my belief and pride in my brand grew and my confidence drowned out the contention, I also started to surround myself more with people that supported what I was doing. My mother has always been a huge support and helped me through some of the tough times and doubts.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
I feel that all of my designs have a signature that is unique to myself and my client as each piece is designed and manufactured by me, which I really enjoy. For my bespoke collection, I hand carve all of the silver detailing for each piece, so no two jewels are alike. I like to think of them as miniature pieces of art. I can tailor certain elements so that they have a personal significance to the wearer. I feel I am creating artifact to be cherished, and handed down. I am not interested in mass produced jewellery items. I think that there is a strong trend by consumers looking for something handmade and unique. All pieces are handcrafted in my studio in London. As a gemologist, I also travel the world and hand select each of my gemstones to be used in my pieces.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
- Start with a realistic business plan. Allow at least 5 years to establish.
- Patience, persistence and above all passion. In my career there have been knock backs and it can be very disheartening to begin with. I believe strongly that success is how one deals with failure. I think it is also really important to be open to advice from industry experts.
Next year my label will be celebrating its 10th year anniversary and my label is stronger than ever.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Stick at it. Success won’t come overnight.
Surround yourself with people that believe in what you want to achieve.
Research the competition.