Frustrated by the lack of opportunity in the jewellery industry for young people from minority backgrounds, jewellery designer Nadia Abbas and her co-founders decided to start their own business, Stööki, combining fashion, music and art.
We chatted to Stööki business partners Nadia and Bosola to hear a bit more about their business journey, their time on Echo’s Creative++ programme, and their tips for budding entrepreneurs.
What made you start your business?
Stööki was started in 2011 by Quincey Williams, Luke Hippolyte and Nadia Abbas, the original founders, who all met at university and found getting into the jewellery industry was difficult for young people who came from minority backgrounds. For a number of months, the team’s lead jewellery designer Nadia was unemployed, looking for a way to get her foot in the door, but experienced numerous setbacks from existing jewellery companies. So Nadia, Luke and Quincey decided to overcome this by creating jobs and a brand for themselves by starting their own business – and we haven’t looked back since.
Where was your business at before joining the Echo++ programme?
Stööki was in transition before joining Echo++ – one of the founding members Quincey, had very sadly passed away, which meant that as a team we had lost a considerable talent and ambitious thinker within the business. The business had lost some momentum and a very close friend at an important time of growth. When we joined the Echo++ programme, we were in the middle of expanding the team and getting ready to build new organisational structures and processes, to prepare for a new collection release coming out later this year.
Creative++ Demo Day judge, Jess, tries on a piece of Stööki jewellery
What are you up to now?
Following the Echo++ course, the brand is creatively and strategically energised again, so we’ve been hard at work producing our first jewellery collection in two years. Stööki as a brand is now really focused on expanding both our consumer audience but also our business network, creating new relationships with people who can help take Stööki to the next level as a business. We’re fully committed to delivering a new collection that pushes our creative vision to new levels, as well as putting together a strong strategy to push sales and expand our business.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve traded on Echo so far?
Bosola, one of Stööki’s business partners, was able to trade her social media skills by supporting well-being event creators 8intheUniverse to develop a social media strategy for their event promotion. In return Stööki were able to use some of their Echoes to hire event space at the Trampery Republic, where we hosted a focus group to showcase new pieces we’ve been designing for our next collection to our specific target audience. The feedback was invaluable, so this was a great use of our Echoes.
What have been real ‘light bulb’ moments for you during your business journey?
An important light bulb moment we had was really understanding our core values as a business and learning how how to articulate them clearly and simply to other people. The Echo++ course really pushed us to drill down and understand what it was we were most passionate about in our business, and how we could use this to bring greater value to our consumers, as well as stay motivated when we’re tired or trying to push past obstacles. It also made us more aligned with one another as a team, as we were able to share a more unified vision.
What advice would you give to a new business starting out?
Challenges are your best teacher, take your time in overcoming them.
Photo credit: Ariel Majtas, all done for Echoes.