How founder Tania Santos Silva of Lala Diamonds is making waves in the fine-jewellery industry.
What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?
The first words I hear every morning are from my son since he started talking. The first 30 minutes of my day are everything but fancy or remarkable but it’s quality time with my son.
Talk us through your career.
I tried law school in Portugal, but I’m not the academic, so two years later, I switched to journalism. It all started in 2009 when I went to Madrid for an intense negotiation and influence course at a company that, till today, is the leading content and service provider to several independent media across the globe. Once finished, they immediately sent me to Angola due to my double nationality and Portuguese language. I have a strong family lineage of African women. I also coordinated a handful of projects promoting the country in international publications such as Bloomberg, The Daily Telegraph and more so I have a strong connection there. I did the same in Mozambique and South Africa. Over the years and with the solid professional relationships established in Angola, I also gave my imprint at Mota-Engil Angola, Jornal Expansão, and TPA – the state’s television. The dynamism of the Angolan market, similar to the UAE, asked for it. Later, I received an invitation from NIS Gazprom Neft to direct the development area in Angola, which I couldn’t resist. My days were spent between the NIS’s private and state partners and the entity responsible for the sector: the Ministry of Petroleum. A few months later, I was invited to represent Angola as a diplomat at OPEC in Vienna. It was a process, quite demanding and challenging to overcome. Still, after several face-to-face interviews, I got a phone call from the organisation inviting me to be the next OPEC Public Relations Coordinator in Vienna. I was a 30-year-old woman in a male-dominated sector. it wasn’t always easy. I managed a team of seven people who had an average age of fifty years old. In 2017, I moved to Dubai to open a consultancy firm in DIFC, where I still work – or where my “corporate persona” works. I’m doing strategic communications for Oil companies worldwide.
What inspired you to launch Lala Diamonds?
Accessibility to what nature produces so beautifully and all its nuances. In 2020, I worked very closely with the industry of rough diamonds. During the first lockdown, I decided I wanted to create a competitive price point jewellery brand that would allow more women to fall in love with this nature-provided product as I did and have access to it. I began working with my team in Portugal to develop the concept; all the women around us inspired us, and we launched the Lala Diamonds brand. Three years later, we’re still alive and kicking. A partner came on board three months ago, Inês Silva, and the business is growing and running smoothly.
What was the biggest challenge you faced as an entrepreneur and how did you overcome this?
The awareness and the trust you need to build with your clients in an e-commerce business in the fine jewellery industry is key. This industry is very competitive, and many large companies have been in business for years, making it difficult for new companies to compete. One of the most challenging aspects of being an entrepreneur in this particular industry includes the high cost of entry—the jewellery competition from large companies. As mentioned above, many large companies have been in business for many years in the jewelry and diamond industry. These companies have a lot of resources and experience, which can make it difficult for new companies to compete. Volatile prices can also make it challenging to plan for the future and to make accurate financial projections. The trick here is to build a strong brand, creating a unique identity for my business that will set us apart from our competition. Niche focus – Lala Diamonds has minimalist pieces, for example. And, of course, personalized customer service from beginning to end.
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Lala gemstones are ethically sourced from around the world – can you expand on how you ensure this?
One of our main priorities is the tracking of the gemstones. We work closely with all parts of the supply chain to guarantee quality and ethical standards. This also allows us to carefully choose all our partners and suppliers, with a significant focus on traceability and compliance. Our stones have the Kimberly certification and are conflict-free.
Each piece you design has its own energy – talk us through the creative process.
It all starts with an idea. It might be inspired by something I see in the world, a piece of art, or even music. Once I have an idea, I start to sketch it out. I experiment with different shapes and colors until I find a combination that I’m happy with. I’m not a designer; I have a perfect aesthetic sense I never knew I had—that and the fantastic design team that helped me create my ideas. Everyone has a unique personality, and I want my designs to reflect that. At the end of the day, I want people to be able to find pieces that they love and that make them feel like themselves.
You create bespoke pieces – can tell us about the customisation process.
Creating bespoke pieces at Lala Diamonds is a truly magical journey, one filled with creativity and emotion. It all begins when a client reaches out to us, whether it’s through email or social media, with their vision in mind. We take the time to have a heartfelt conversation with them, delving into their preferences, their love for jewelry, any specific requirements they may have, and the special occasion they are celebrating. But it doesn’t stop there; we aim to capture their essence and desires fully. We ask for references that could range from a captivating movie scene, an inspiring image, or an iconic figure that resonates with them. These references become the building blocks of their dream jewel. Then, the magic truly unfolds. Our dedicated design team takes these inspirations and transforms them into a stunning 3D rendering, allowing our clients to see their vision come to life. At this stage, they have the opportunity to make any adjustments they desire, ensuring that the final piece is an exquisite reflection of their unique style and personality. And finally, the most enchanting moment of all arrives. In just a matter of days, the one-of-a-kind, dream-crafted jewel is delivered into the hands of our cherished client. It’s not just jewelry; it’s a piece of their heart, a testament to their individuality, and a memory to be cherished for a lifetime. At Lala Diamonds, we don’t just create custom jewellery; we craft dreams, transform emotions into art, and celebrate the unique stories of each and every one of our clients. It’s a journey we’re honored to take, and a privilege to share in their moments of joy and love.
What would be your advice to the next generation of entrepreneurs?
I hope it’s not too cliché, but never give up. Entrepreneurship is a journey, and it is not always easy. There will be times when you feel like giving up. But if you never give up, you will eventually succeed. Keep trying! Focus on your goals, celebrate successes, surround yourself with positive people, and learn from mistakes; that’s key.
This is ‘The Fearlessness Issue’ – how do you overcome your fears?
What is Fear? Paul Ekman says, “Fear is one of the seven universal emotions experienced by everyone worldwide. Fear arises with the threat of physical, emotional, or psychological harm, real or imagined. While traditionally considered a “negative” emotion, Fear is important in keeping us safe as it mobilizes us to cope with potential danger.” I don’t see it as overcoming my fears, as I don’t see fear as a negative emotion. Fear keeps me alert and grounded Courage to take on fear will take you to the next level.
October – The Fearlessness Issue with Chaumet – Download Now
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