November’s – ‘The Fine Jewellery Issue’ – Download Now
Salama Khalfan’s attention to detail is second to none. A master at creating the most intricate pieces, her fine jewellery is the result of both a strategic approach and a creative spirit.
What do your first 30 mins of the day look like, your morning routine?
Typically what I do as soon as I wake up is I rehydrate, I drink water. Then I jump in the shower and get ready either for yoga or a run. I do yoga three times a week and run three times a week, I have one day off. I then I have a big breakfast.
How did you know it was the right time to launch your own brand and what were the stepping-stones to that point?
It’s never a question of the right time. I don’t think there will ever be a right time to take a big plunge or a jump. Starting my own brand was always something that I wanted to do. It was just a matter of time till I felt that the idea has matured enough and I was able to do it.
You’re both UAE and France based, how has that helped or hindered in growing your own brand globally?
Being based in two different locations gives you access to two different markets and gives you access to the resources as well as the client potential. I felt if anything, being based in two different locations is something that enabled my business more and it broadens its horizon.
Do you feel more drawn to the creative or the business side of the brand and how have you grown the team to support this?
I am drawn to both, which is why I chose this industry and this type of business. If you were to ask me how much time do I spend on each, I would say my day to day work is about 70 per cent business and 30 per cent creative.
I believe that any successful venture is as good and successful as its people. And I have a fundamental belief that it is never a one-woman show. For anything to be successful, you have to either find the right people for the role or to home breed them, to have the patience, to bring in people that have the curiosity and humility to learn and to get one on one time and work with them and watch them grow and flourish.
What has been the biggest hurdle since starting your own brand and how did you overcome it?
I think for any brand, not only jewellery, but for any brand in a competitive market, the biggest hurdle is the beginning. To find people that believe in the brand especially retailers. Retailers are generally very hesitant to take on a new brand unless it is someone with appetite and foresight for new and unfamiliar. That has been the biggest challenge.
I overcame this challenge with hard work, I created several collections and I did not compromise on the quality and on designs.
Do you have any mentors or guides and how does this help navigate the right path?
I have several mentors for different parts of my life and I work with them closely. I think it’s important to work with people that are able to give you an external view of yourself. Even if you know yourself so much, you’d be surprised how much a mentor or a coach can give and provide insight.
What is your approach to scaling a business and client retention?
I think it’s important to have a long-term view, to build a strategy that is based on facts and aspirations, and to make a strategy into achievable milestones. I started the business with a 5-year strategy and we achieved our goal in year 4, I guess we were lucky. But we followed through with every milestone. We worked really hard and we had constant follow-ups and constant check-ins.
When it comes to clients, clients want to have a high-quality product and a personal touch or connection. We work very closely with our clients especially on bespoke items that are not part of our collections. We’re involved in their special occasions and we are there for them whenever they want or need us.
You have clients the globe over – do you see any buying patterns based on regions or countries and have you seen any changes this year as a result of COVID-19?
There will always be buying patterns that are dictated by geographical regions. We noticed for our collections, it’s less to do with colours and more with the type of jewellery meaning pendants vs. earrings, rings vs. bracelets etc.
I think due to COVID-19, people shifted their buying mindsets away from fast fashion and more towards timeless pieces.
How has social media affected the fine jewellery business and which platform has been most useful?
Personally, for us, social media is the main driver; it makes your products accessible to your clients and potential clients at the touch of a fingertip. It’s a B2C channel. It is convenient and we make it so easy for people to like something, to order it, and to have it delivered next day.
The success of platforms always depends on the geographical area of focus. Different regions have different platforms.
Which piece of jewellery that you own is most special to you and why?
I would say the piece that is currently in production. I’m always eager to see how my drawings and sketches translate into a tangible piece.
What tips would you give anyone wanting to invest in a fine piece of jewellery?
We don’t buy jewellery for the way it looks; we buy it for the way it makes us feel. In light of that, buy the piece that elevates you and makes you feel at your top when you wear it.
Your pieces are so well researched. Tell us about this intelligent approach to the creative process.
It is less intelligent I would say and more driven by emotion and inspiration. When I come across a certain topic, I become very curious about it and as a result, I try to learn everything about the subject. And naturally, that in equation is translated into pieces.
How do you source your stones?
When it comes to diamonds, there’s no two ways about it, all of our stones are ethically sourced and we make sure that we only deal with well-known entities. When it comes to coloured stones, we often go to the home country of that stone. I also like to go on sourcing trips once in a while and immerse myself in all of the possible options of stones.
We love your stacking pieces; do you see clients returning to add to their collection?
Very often, yes. And it always makes me happy to see a client wearing one of our pieces in ways that we never thought of. It makes me feel that the design has created enough freedom for them to style it on their own.
Which Instagram accounts do you follow for inspiration?
My Instagram profile speaks for itself. I honestly find inspiration in everyone that I follow.
Do you have any pre-bedtime rituals?
I take my supplements. I try to meditate for 10 minutes. And most importantly, be grateful for everything good that happened that day.
What advice would you give to your younger self starting out?
Start somewhere, and don’t wait for perfection. It will come, you have a lifetime of reworking and refining what you choose to do.
If you had not launched your own brand, which other role would you choose career-wise?
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