Aisha Lovell is blessed. She is fortunate to have two careers, both of which she loves.
She took time out of her understandably busy schedule to speak to Today’s Fashion about her most recent and still developing career in jewellery making. Her full-time job is working at a distribution company.
“I have a full-time job in a completely different field, but one job complements the other. My experiences in my day job prepared me for most of the things that I have encountered in the jewellery business. It keeps me on my toes. And the actual creation process is therapeutic and helps me to unwind. I have two careers which I love. One allows me to analyse the ever-changing business world, and the other allows me to live what I analyse,” she said.
Aisha started Berezia Jewellery in November 2018. It’s a mobile business which advertises and takes orders via social media, WhatsApp and email and delivers the finished product.
Aisha chose the name Berezia because it means unusual or unique. She said she tries to incorporate that in each of her pieces. Berezia is known for polymer clay earrings mostly, but the business also offers necklaces, bracelets and hair accessories.
“I have started making my own attachments (jump rings and earring hooks) from copper. I am learning how to use materials other than clay for jewellery making. My most recent project is making jewellery by repurposing and up-cycling plastics.”
The talented 39-year-old said she considers herself to be a very practical person who likes to figure out new ways to do things. So the idea of being able to make her own jewellery was just one of those things.
“My journey started about three years ago in 2017, when an expensive costume jewellery piece fell apart in my hands. I was very upset, and I went on YouTube looking for a way to repair it, but instead I stumbled onto a video about making polymer clay earrings and got side-tracked. I decided to try it myself and fell in love with it. So I am totally self-taught. Once I got the hang of it and started wearing my pieces and people started asking about them, then what was a hobby became a business.”
Aisha is a University of the West Indies graduate who successfully completed studies in Management Studies and Project Management and Evaluation.
The jewellery designer said that although there were challenges she has no regrets about venturing into the new career. “My mistakes, issues and obstacles have all had silver linings that I have learned from and I am the person I am today because of them. Finding balance in the beginning was a major challenge for me.
She added: “Keeping up to date with social media, getting orders made and doing the deliveries in addition to being a mother, having a full-time job and making time for those closest to me was overwhelming. It can still be at times but I am working it out and figuring it out as I grow.”
Berezia’s customers range from ages 24 to 54. They are mostly women but some men also come to buy gifts for women or the beaded bracelets. The clientele is mostly local but there are tourists who purchase as well.
“I tend to come up with ideas from observing life in general. Everything that happens around me is a story of colours and patterns. I want my clients to be satisfied so I ensure that they select the colours and shapes that complement them most and add flavour to their outfits. I create a certain uniqueness that makes my clients feel special when they wear the pieces.”
Aisha explained the lengthy process of making jewellery. “It takes approximately four hours to make a set of pieces. I have to blend the clay until I get the exact colour mix or print that I want. Then I roll out the clay and cut or roll it (either free handed or with cutters) into the shapes that I want.”
She continued: “I then use a tool to make the hole for the jump rings or hooks. Next, I smooth out the pieces and put them to bake. Once the baking is finished and the pieces have cooled, I sand and buff the pieces. The final step is to assemble them with the jump rings and hooks.”
Recently, Aisha was recognized on social media by a local influencer and designer as one of the jewellery designers to take note of. She said the response was not only amazing, but touching as well.
“I have a vision for my business where I would like to improve my online presence, take my brand outside of Barbados and export my products. I would also like to make Berezia an international brand and to use that platform to help other entrepreneurs.”
Aisha normally makes pieces for social events or seasonal activities. “I did a pop-up last Crop Over where I featured and sold a number of pieces for the themed events and created a special collection in national colours for Independence celebrations. I also had a little taste of pageantry when I was recently asked by a customer to provide accessories for three of the participants in the 2020 Primary School African Awareness Pageant.”
There has been an increase in demand for Berezia products over the past 18 months. “Word of mouth has played an important part in the growth of my business. Advertising on social media, especially Instagram, has also helped with brand recognition and sales. But what has really helped is the support of other small businesses and persons who have promoted my business on their own pages and I do the same. There is real value in collaboration!”
However, even with the increase, Aisha is mindful of how she manages the demand, especially peak periods. “I am a planner by nature. So it is always important for me to have a detailed plan that I write down with all the things I need to get done and timelines. There are times when the plan may go awry and in those times, it becomes important to acknowledge that feeling overwhelmed sometimes is ok.
“It is at that point I have to stop, take a breath and be very flexible and creative in reworking my plan. And after a peak period, it is important to take a break or a rest and get some ‘me time’ to rejuvenate.”
The former student of Queen’s College said she has learnt some invaluable lessons along this journey. “I have learned that you need genuine, honest, positive people around you because sometimes you have to ask for help when things get rough. Additionally, taking care of your mental health is extremely important and the remedy for that is making time for family, friends and relaxation.”
When a hectic day’s work is done, it’s the simple things that bring balance to her life. “I love both indoor and beach volleyball. I even used to play for various teams throughout my life but I would settle for a beach scrimmage with friends these days. I am also a foodie and often enjoy nights out at local restaurants. But my favourite thing to do is to stay in for a movie or games night with my son Zamar.”
Aisha believes that every day is an opportunity to do better than yesterday. She thinks that making the best use of the time with those who are close to her matters the most.
“I am inspired in my journey both professionally and personally by my son, Zamar. He is a free spirit, almost fearless, and I believe that it is my duty to set an example and teach him the benefits of hard work, commitment and dedication. All I do is for him,” the jewellery maker said. (IMC)