There is a real sense of drama about the design work of Laura Nyahuye and her brand, AdornU, who is challenging convention and creating sculptural adornments for the body that speak volumes for the individuality and confidence of the wearer.
LoA chatted to Laura recently about her inspiration and her passion for story telling through her highly unique sculptural work.
Tell us more about your highly individual company, AdornU
At AdornU, I design and create Body Adornments. Jewellery is a word I rarely use for the pieces. I normally call them adornments because of their individuality, size and uniqueness. AdornU portrays a bold and resilient design concept which tells a story about removing limitations and challenging how an accessory looks, whilst at the same time creating a sense of drama for the wearer. Whilst we specialise in ''jewellery'', our pieces are more like adornments due to their sculptural quality. AdornU uses medical plastic tubing, metal, wire and up cycles a variety of other source materials, aiming to create avant garde, highly individual pieces with a raw edge. All our pieces are handmade and no piece is the same, thus embodying our 'No Limits, No Boundaries!’ mantra.
"AdornU portrays a bold and resilient design concept which tells a story about removing limitations and challenging how an accessory looks, whilst at the same time creating a sense of drama for the wearer."
What inspired you to start your company?
After completing my studies in Applied Arts at Coventry University, my desire was to go on to study art therapy, practicing as a part-time art therapist whilst running my creative business, AdornU. However, the reality of financial constraints restricted my plans, and I had to put aside my art therapy ambitions in the first instance and start-up my creative business, AdornU, as the first priority. Happily, I have still managed to transfer therapeutic concepts and elements into to each body adornment piece I create for AdornU, and I remain very passionate about telling a story through each of my pieces.
The inspiration for the brand name, AdornU, is derived from a particular piece of biblical scripture, which says: “Do not let your adorning be external, the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewellery or the clothing you wear ... but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in sight is very precious’’. My own personal journey in creating each piece is centred on this verse, thus the name of my brand AdornU, translated as “it’s inside of you.”
What makes your pieces so unique and appeal to the women who buy them?
My pieces are all handcrafted and totally unique - in fact, not one piece is the same and they are most importantly celebratory pieces. My aim is to celebrate WOMAN, and to tell a story about the woman within. I want to remind her of who she is on the inside, perhaps in spite of how the world perceives her, for example being labelled as the wife, the chief executive, the mother, the big woman, the small woman, the perfect woman, the good for nothing woman. The list is endless. Every piece I make has a name, and my aim is for the pieces I make to personally and intrinsically connect with the wearer. It is very important to me as a designer for every piece I make to carry its own message.
Tell us a little about your team
I currently work alone, however I look forward to having a partner one day soon - as the saying goes, two heads are better than one.
"My big aspiration is to see AdornU change the lives of women and children for the better, and to create job opportunities and empower women in any positive way possible."
Share a little about your own entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
From a very young age, I’ve always had an avid interest in doodling cartoon characters. However, this stopped when I became a young mom. A few years into motherhood, I took a short course in interior design. I embarked on a business of designing, making and selling soft furnishings. Fast forwarding to 2004, I took up a degree course in applied arts. During this period of my studies, I had my fare share of challenges - I stumbled and fell, I got up, I fell again, but once again managed to get up again. My design style and concept was not initially understood by those who were mentoring me. Despite this setback, I had an inner conviction that I had found my own personal niche/design concept.
Yet, despite having what were categorised as ‘good designs’, nothing seemed to be happening. May I say, a woman can be passionate and have a vision, however life can bring some packages that might end up distorting that vision if we allow it to. The amount of challenges and responsibilities that women have to deal with each day, can unfortunately steal the vision if we are not careful. Pressure mounts when you are a single mom. For years l got caught up in the midst of juggling family life with personal struggles. I went through a phase of compromising my design concept in order to ‘fit into the commercial category’ - NEVER AGAIN! I felt I was creatively drowning, going around and around in a vicious circle. The only thing that kept the small flame of creative and entrepreneurial hope flickering inside of me was the still small voice that kept saying ‘you didn’t choose this profession, God put it inside of you’. I was barely hanging by a very thin thread until one day l had the fortune to be introduced to Pam Samasuwo-Nyawiri, the Creative Director at VanhuVamwe, an inspirational and innovative accessory design company, and the founder of 54Faces. What a mentor!
I’m thankful for my struggles because without them, l wouldn’t have stumbled upon my strength. My work has a huge connection with my challenges and I love that! The more pieces I create, the more I understand that saying: “it doesn’t matter how many times you fall as long as you remember to get back up again.” Growing up I used to see my mom designing and making clothes for friends and family. We would go to bed at night and wake up the next morning to see an amazing new dress. Admittedly, I come from an academic background, however working for someone as a secretary or as an accountant has never appealed to me.
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
I have a strong desire to see our pieces on the catwalk, to move into the international marketplace, and to be worn by royalty. I would also like to creatively collaborate with other designers. My big aspiration is to see AdornU change the lives of women and children for the better, and to create job opportunities and empower women in any positive way possible. By God’s grace, creativity has helped me to find myself in the midst of trying times. This is why in the future, through AdornU I would like to open a creative school to empower underprivileged women and children.
"To every woman out there thinking of starting up in business, l says yes you can! It’s inside of you! Desire is the starting point of all achievements. Don’t be scared to take more risks when you have a passion."
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
The freedom to envision and create with no restrictions - witnessing the transition from an idea in the mind’s eye, to the physical. I’m always, always humbled to see the tangible end results.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
When l was a little girl, and whenever l fell, my parents would say ‘wow Laura, look at you - you’ve grown bigger, stronger, taller!’ Yes, l would shed a few tears initially having fallen, but I would get up again, genuinely believing that l was stronger, taller and bigger! That taught me that I should not be afraid to fall.
To every woman out there thinking of starting up in business, l says yes you can! It’s inside of you! Desire is the starting point of all achievements. Don’t be scared to take more risks when you have a passion. Let’s do this!
Contact or follow AdornU
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why LoA loves it….
At LoA, we love Laura Nyahuye’s entrepreneurial story - it is both inspirational and encouraging to all those women who have a personal business and creative dream to fulfil, yet at the same time, huge hurdles to climb over. Today, she is creating truly unique and beautiful pieces that can instil a sense of boldness and confidence in the wearer, but at the same time, send a message to the world that there is a place for those who wish to push the boundaries and concepts of jewellery design to the limits. We love Laura’s entrepreneurial approach to life, and her ability to chase her dreams, no matter what challenges are put in her path. --- Melanie Hawken, Lionesses of Africa founder and editor-in-chief