In any jewellery design space, it is sometimes hard to make things that are instantly recognisable as the work of one creative person. Yet Anna Raimondo has created a brand personality and a design style that are uniquely hers, and as a result, the SMITH Jewellery brand is truly memorable.
This month, LoA spoke to Anna Raimondo about her inspiration and her five-year entrepreneurial journey to find out more.
"The designs for my women’s range are bold, feminine and different, whilst the men's range is a quirky and humorous take on the Victorian gentleman."
Tell us a little about your company and what you do.
I design and make jewellery for women and men in Cape Town, South Africa for my brand SMITH Jewellery. The designs for my women’s range are bold, feminine and different, whilst the men's range is a quirky and humorous take on the Victorian gentleman.
What inspired you to start your company?
After completing my degree in Jewellery Design & Manufacturing from Stellenbosch University, I won a scholarship to go and study luxury design at Richemont's Creative Academy in Milan. I then went on to travel and work in the UK and Australia for two years. When I came back home to South Africa, I realised that I had kind of made myself unemployable in the 'real world' and I didn't really want to be a bench worker or designer for someone else in the jewellery world. So, stuck between a rock and a hard place, I decided to start my own business venture, SMITH Jewellery, in 2010.
"The business has grown and changed in ways that I couldn't foresee when I started, and being able to change with my business has helped it enormously."
What makes the jewellery you design so unique and appealing to customers?
I design jewellery that I would like to wear; I treat my customers the way I would like to be treated; and I hire staff that will turn into friends. I treat my business as an extension of who I am and people can see that in the work I produce. Also, each of my collections are quite different from the other, allowing returning clientele to explore different styles and new clientele to discover and enjoy the brand.
Tell us a little about your team.
We have recently grown to a team of three people. I have two trained part-time jewellers who work with me in the studio. This allows me the freedom to focus on designing and building the brand, but also allows them time to work on their own brands too.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I really never thought about it as an entrepreneurial background as both my parents have run their own businesses, but I guess it did instil a 'can do attitude' in me. This attitude has definitely helped me along my journey to building a brand. I started SMITH whilst working full-time at Elle Decoration Magazine, then eased off into working part time as a sales assistant, and then finally took the leap into working entirely for myself. Although it was hard working on SMITH while working other jobs, I feel they gave me a good grounding in what is needed to run a business effectively and professionally. Having said that though, the business has grown and changed in ways that I couldn't foresee when I started, and being able to change with my business has helped it enormously.
"I think the hardest thing to do is to trust and believe in yourself. Five years in and I am still coming around to the idea that I'm not a total idiot and that I can do this, and successfully."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
I would like to grow my business internationally, and open a flagship store locally. But all this depends on the right shows, right locations and right timing. I also want to do more collaborations and runway shows.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
I really like taking an idea and then turning it into something tangible. But what is the most satisfying is admiring a random person's style and when my eye hits their ear or neck I see my designs sitting there, every time I get a little tingle of joy.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
I think the hardest thing to do is to trust and believe in yourself. Five years in and I am still coming around to the idea that I'm not a total idiot and that I can do this, and successfully.
Also, invest in yourself - you ARE your business. Read books, go on courses, and remember to take a break to find your inspiration. These things will help you get a clearer view of who you are and where you want your business to go.
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Why LoA loves it….
At LoA, we love women entrepreneurs who create brands that are truly unique and identifiable with themselves as creative designers. At SMITH Jewellery, Anna Raimondo is creating her own individual design style and creating pieces that have real personality. We also love the fact that Anna demonstrates the need to sometimes pivot as an entrepreneur, taking new directions depending on the market opportunities, the business environment, or the creative inspiration. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa