Meet the Founder of Isura | Exclusive Interview
Treasures by ISURA is a jewelry outfit created by Efe Fagbeja who has always been intrigued by jewelry and the way they work.Efe is a bubbly creative who likes to DIY a lot. She is tenacious and perseveres (I guess you have to be when working with precious stones and fragile strings)
It is important to state that as a kid, Efe would pick shells on the beach and try to string the ones with holes in them. It is safe to say that there was absolutely no way she was going to live a life outside of making and designing accessories.
Lets meet her.
- Please introduce yourself and your background.
My name is Efe Fagbeja. I have a first degree in Economics from the University of Ibadan, and a Masters in International Business from the University of North London. I also have a certificate in Jewelry Appreciation from the Gemological Institute of America.
I have always had an interest in the way jewelry is made, but I never thought of it as a profession.
- Please tell us about your work. How did Isura start?
I learnt to make jewelry in 2004, and this reawakened my interest in jewelry-making. After that I went on to work in MTN Nigeria for 5 years. I resigned in 2009 to follow my dreams. In 2011, I decided to take up my passion for jewelry-making as a full-time profession, and so Isura was born.
Our work is focused on classy, elegant and timeless pieces, that transcend fashion trends. We aim to create pieces that can be passed down through generations. We use gemstones, and precious/semi-precious metals, such as gold-filled, sterling silver and 18k gold.
- Where did the idea for Isura come from? Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?
“Isura” means “treasures”. I wanted a name that portrayed the essence of what our pieces are about, as well as, the “Nigerianess” of our brand. I love Nigeria, and like to promote our culture as much as possible, that’s why I chose that name. Inspiration for our pieces mostly come from the components themselves. I score the market looking for interesting components and as I find them, I see designs in them. I’m also inspired by shades of colour.
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- Can you remember one of the first things you crafted you made? What makes it memorable?
I still have a few of the initial pieces I made in the jewelry class I took. Before then, I never considered myself as a creative person, or one who could do something with her hands, so making something that actually looked beautiful, WITH MY OWN HANDS, made it a deeply meaningful experience for me. Something was awakened in me.
- How long does it take to design and make a particular piece?
It depends on what we’re designing. Some take as long as one week because they require constant tweaking and reworking to bring out the picture in the mind. Some take one hour or less, but I’ll say an average of two days.
- What are the challenges you face in business?
I would say that the perception of the buying public about handcrafted or Nigerian jewelry, and creative work, is a large challenge. It’s definitely improving, but I would like to see more Nigerians appreciate the value of local creativity
- What is your most popular item?
People love our chain and crystal lariats. They continue to get beautiful reviews, and they’re extremely versatile for various types of outfits. They come in gold-filled or sterling silver and the colors of the crystals can be varied to suit individual taste.
- To what extent do you draw upon your Nigerian (African) heritage for your work?
Our primary target is the African woman. Our designs incorporate her lifestyle as much as possible. We think of how she dresses, on different occasions, and how our pieces will complement her outfits.
- What are your goals for the future, both work wise and life?
Personally, I am passionate about women. Isura is a means to an end. Through our proceeds, we want to mentor women in life issues, jewelry-making and entrepreneurship, and particularly be able to help victims of domestic violence.
- What would people be surprised to learn about you?
That I’m quite shy and introverted.
- If you could give one piece of advice to youths who want to start their own company, what would it be?
Impossible in NOTHING! You can achieve whatever you put your mind to, with persistence, perseverance, and deliberate action.
- And finally, I would like to give you this opportunity to share two to four images of your work and tell us a little about each.