An interview with jewellery designer and luxury fashion event manager, Izabela Calik
London-based jewellery designer Izabela Calik realised, quite quickly after starting her own jewellery line, how difficult it was to get her brand noticed and attract customers. Although she had an amazing product to offer, with her jewellery pieces combining precious stones and the modern material of eco resin, she was struggling to market her products. After speaking with other fashion creatives, she realised they were also having the same problem and set out to create a fashion networking club. After spending two years building an established network in London with press, stylists, makeup artists and photographers, she created the IC Luxury Fashion Network Club to help brands and designers promote their work. She now runs a networking event every two months, each attracting over 200 guests. Here to speak about how she went from a jewellery designer to also being a networking event manager, is an interview with Izabela Calik.
How did you first get into fashion?
I have been interested in fashion and theatrical costumes since I was a teenager and would spend my free time in acting school in Poland. I have been inspired by Audrey Hepburn's look. When I was younger I tried to create my own clothes, but I found very quickly that my attention was drawn to jewellery, small accessories that can change your whole look.
Why did you decide to go into jewellery design specifically?
I personally love jewellery. I reckon that it is one of the best presents a women can get, at least for me. Sometimes I can’t get exactly what I am looking for on the market, this is another aspect that inspires me to be creative. I like the fact that something so small like jewellery can change your look so quickly. Jewellery gives our outfits the last touch, it can be very small and discrete, or bold and a statement piece - it depends what look we want to achieve. However, as they say: ‘The devil is in the detail’.
What is one of your favourite self-designed pieces?
That will be a black ring with a gold sun from my first collection. It is a modern type of jewellery piece made of organic tree resin, with silver and gold. This piece has been published by Vogue Magazine. I like to mix styles, and so use traditional materials like gold and silver and bring them to a modern, trendy world by mixing them with eco resin.
What do you describe as a typical Izabela Calik jewellery wearer?
You will probably recognise my pieces easily by just seeing the elegant combination of resin with gold or silver - wide band rings in black or ivory colours with melted stones. There are not many designers with similar ideas.
You sell across numerous international stores, where would you say most of your customers are based?
I am currently focused on the British market as I create high-end fashion networking events in London at whic I present my work as well as the work of other designers. The events are focused to create a great opportunity for brands and talented designers to reach the right people: fashion lovers, social media influencers, media, press, bloggers or fashion stylists.
How did you start the IC Luxury Fashion Networking Club? Did you first start with jewellery design and then did you start the club?
I started as a jewellery designer. I had worked hard to design and to create my own products, but after that I needed to work even harder to find new customers and spread the news about my products. I realised that there were many other amazing creative designers and brands who struggle with the same problem. I spent 2 years building my fashion network, reaching out to bloggers, stylists, magazines and fashionistas to create the type of fashion events that can help us. Being noticed by the press opened several doors for me and made me appreciate the fashion network collaboration opportunities more. Let’s not forget, you need to go out and be noticed with your products and use all opportunities possible to promote your work. The fashion industry is a very fast wheel with growing competition. If you are not a well-known company, you cannot afford to think that someone will notice you. Go out there, network, get yourself noticed - that’s the honest advice that I gave to myself and what I give to all young creatives.
How many events have you already had?
I have been running IC Luxury Fashion Networking events for almost 2 years. Every 2 months we create high-end fashion exhibitions or fashion networking events mostly based in Mayfair venues. The events attract around 200 guests each time and give the designers and brands an amazing opportunity to gain exposure.
What are the benefits for designers signing up to the Luxury Networking Club?
Every 2 months we create luxury fashion shows or fashion exhibitions to give designers and brands the chance to promote and sell their goods. We truly want to support all designers who are exhibiting with us, so we invite all our clients, contacts and VIP guests to the event to introduce them to new brands and drive the attention to them. The IC Luxury Fashion Network offers individual exhibiting or yearly membership and will allow you to showcase with us at least 2 times per year in top London locations. It’s everything we need to make our goods alive: surround ourselves with people who love what we do.
How important would you say that networking is within the fashion industry?
If you have a business/fashion brand you perhaps network every day even without noticing it. It is the way to ‘sell yourself’ and represent your business. Networking events are just a bigger opportunity to connect and exchange contacts, to tell your story. It is important to find the right network events to avoid disappointments. You need to be noticed, so you need to speak loud about what you do and be happy about your work. There are a lot of networking events that just didn’t work for me, that was perhaps what motivated me to create something for designers needs and something that attracts high profile connections like fashion bloggers and celebrity stylists. When you find the right events, you can grow your network for your business. By networking or exhibiting just once per year is not going to help your business much. Networking can help if you are consistent and choose the right network events, for this reason it is important to understand your business and needs of your potential clients. For me, the fashion network business was crucial, but only because I wanted to take the networking seriously and invite the right industry people.
As you are both a jewellery designer and organizer of fashion networking events- what advice would you give to emerging designers?
The fashion industry is a tough business. You will need the skills of creating, designing and selling your work. My advice is to showcase and promote your brand as often as you can. Networking or promoting just once a year is not enough. Don’t be afraid to speak about what it is that you love. Use your time and money wisely.
What has been one of the proudest moments of your fashion career?
I have been published by Vogue Magazine three times and showcased my jewellery at international exhibitions, which makes me very happy and opens up business opportunities for me. I even traveled to Spain without knowing the language to promote and sell my jewellery to the shops in a very successful way. It is silly, but that time I believed so much that I could do it, that nothing could stop me. However, for some reason the proudest moments are simply the ones when you feel independent, when you earn money with what you love to do in your life. That makes me feel stronger and aware of who I am.
What do you hope to accomplish professionally in the next 5 to 10 years?
I have big plans and dreams to grow my business. I would love to create bigger and better fashion opportunities for designers, attract big industry names, bloggers/celebrity stylists and fashion lovers to support the ones who are starting it. Apart from that, I wish to do what will bring a smile to my face.