Design Splat | Interviews with Awesome Designers and Creatives

XANDER KOSTROMA – EMI♥ – JEWELLERY DESIGNER

Posted April 17th by Design Splat in Jewellery Designer, Jewellery Maker

Today we have the adorable and talented Xander Kostroma. He creates gorgeous bohemian inspired jewellery! Enjoy the interview and pictures and be sure to go to his website!

-Interview

Hello and Welcome to Design Splat Xander!

Tell us a bit about what you do:

I create hand-made, bohemian inspired jewellery with a contemporary twist!

How did you get into hand-making jewellery?

I graduated from Swansea Institute with a HND in Surface Pattern Design in 2008. Since leaving university (originally taking a gap year to work in Switzerland)  I took on a full time job once I returned just to tied me over until I went back to university. Admittedly, I got bored of what I was doing and decided to create my own fashion label – Emi♥. This was back in July 2009. Emi♥ then officially launched December 2009 and burst onto the scene by headlining in an Eco show just gone March 5th at The National Waterfront Museum, Swansea. (drag queens and all!)

What inspires you and influences your designs?

I tend not to follow fashion the T. My designs are based upon what I learnt while working for M&S Per Una. I take elements from the high street and put my own twist on them. For example, One designer may have an Indian summer theme, another may have gone for bold prints for Spring. So I take inspiration from what is hot on the catwalk and channel it into my designs.

Which product is your personal favourite?

I know this is going to sound cheesy, but I love them all! Items that officially go on sale from my shop are things that I would buy myself (if I was a woman) but if I had to choose it would be the Garden Bracelet priced at only a fiver. It’s made from silver plated tubes and is charm bracelet-esque. It features lot’s of little flowers and beads and is really cute for summer.

How long does it take to make one product?

Gosh, each product is slightly different. There is a design team based in China who would make the initial item. The design would then be uploaded, and sent to me. I would then have to approve the item. A sample is then ordered in to see if the quality matches my expectations. This would have to be approved again by myself, then the items are made to the quantity specified. Once agreed, it would be shipped over. Checked once more for quality control, then uploaded to my website for sale to the public. It can take around 4 weeks or so – depending on availability and materials involved.

Do you see the market expanding for handmade jewellery products?

YES! We cannot continue to live in this world of a throw away society! Emi♥ love’s the idea of uniqueness which cannot be achieved through mass production. It is this mass production of jewellery/clothes that we feel is damaging the planet – as science has proven. Go back only 100 years ago, before a time of major discount retail brands and compare the climate for example. There is a huge difference and the public are starting to see this. People today care if the products they buy are ethically sourced  and are willing to pay a little more for that hand made feel. Sites like Etsy.com wouldn’t thrive if people didn’t want hand made goodies!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

In 5 years time we will have launched our clothing line and will have opened our first “bricks and mortar” store in the high street. Emi♥ have started off small selling jewellery but will be adding accessories at first to our collection building up to our funky eco fashion range exclusively for women.

Any new exciting products being added to jewellery collection?

We are in the process of uploading our Spring/Summer ’10 collection. On our site you will find a **Preview section** .On this page we have added all the exciting new lines due into our store for the following weeks. One of my favorites is the “Summer U Necklace”. It’s made from plated silver and features a bent U at the front fastened by a silver plated chain. Very bohemian and very chunky we love it! We also have classic beads, faux pearls which are perfect the beach and cute inexpensive charm bracelets.

What drives you/gives you the ‘go’ to keep at it and do everything?

When I was younger, my mum was very poor. Her family didn’t help at all. Mum used to burn the furniture for example during the winter so we could have heat in the house – we only had a coal fire in the lounge for heating. My baby sister slept in a draw filled with blankets in the bedroom and I shared a single bed with my mum. I left home at 16 and wanted to make it on my own. It is this drive that keeps me going. When I have children I want to be able to give them the best that I can. Mum sacrificed everything for us when we were younger. It’s only recently I found out, when we were small she would make sure me and my sister had food and starve herself as she couldn’t afford it. She gave up everything for me and my sister. I want to become a success at what I do, and be able to repay her back. Most importantly of all provide for my mum and sister.

Does fame attract you?

It is not fame what I am after but recognition for what I do. For example, Philip Green, Arcadia Group owner is recognised as a business man but not a celebrity. We all know of him, but not necessarily who he is.

How do you rate yourself as a jewellery designer/maker?

I class myself as a jewellery designer not necessarily a maker. I like to think my designs are cutting-edge and up to trend with current fashion. There is a certain stigma about fair trade fashion – that is it’s made by hippies who only use hemp and drink flower tea. Well, yes I do drink flower tea and yes I don’t like wearing shoes & socks BUT I am also trendy. And I want my designs to show the public you can buy into fair trade fashion without buying into the typical “hippie” stigmata that’s sadly attached to it.

What makes a good handmade product?

First and foremost is that it you have to have excellent quality control in place. Just because it is hand made, doesn’t mean it has to look “rough around the edges”. For me, I am a perfectionist. I want the best for my brand and I offer the best that I can, anything else is unacceptable.

Do you cater for custom designs?

Yes we do, but this is catered more toward boutiques and business owners. Custom designs can be expensive so we have minimum order quantities in place. However, all orders will be considered. Just email: sales@emi-clothing.co.uk and we will get back to you.

Where can we buy your products?

Currently, online at www.emi-clothing.co.uk. We are in the process of sourcing new retail outlets. If you would like to sell our products, then get in touch!

Three words to describe yourself?

Awkward, Quirky and Couture!!

Hobbies and other interests?

I love to paint, all the paintings in my flat are done by myself or my partner. I don’t like the idea of buying something everyone else has (like that famous Swedish brand of home wares store!!) I really do love unique items. I also love rummaging around vintage shops/charity shops for one off pieces.

Favourite jewellery company?

Well, they are not so much a specialist jewellery company but I model my designs on the Per Una range at Marks & Spencers. Their jewellery is unique and contains lots of lovely metals and fabrics. The wrapped necklaces are lovely! you should check out their summer range in-store now. I am also a fan of the Speziale range which feature rare stones, finer fabrics and gold/plated designs.

Any tips and tricks you want to share with aspiring designers?

Just keep on pushing for what you want. If you want to be a designer, then go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Even if you feel your getting no where just keep on going. If you have to ask 1000 people for your break…remember it only takes the 1! It’s taken me 6 years to realise my dream and now I am living it, I couldn’t be happier! you don’t have to start from something you can start from nothing and still achieve your goal!

Tools of the trade?

Lot’s of stamina and a FAST internet connection if you want to sell online, and be prepared for numb bums pretty much all of the time. I normally work 12 – 16 hours per day so am used to it now. Oh and a gym membership/home exercise kit is also handy.

Best and worst product you have made?

It’s not so much products it’s more the range. My collection of necklaces have been very successful. I am very proud of them and just how unique they really are. I am still trying with my earrings, the geometry earrings in black were successful although I designed lot’s of shell necklaces. Sadly they didn’t pass the quality control as the shell was too delicate.

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Contact Info

Email: sales@emi-clothing.co.uk

Website: www.emi-clothing.co.uk

Twitter: www.twitter.com/emi_clothing

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Some images of Xander’s work/EMI♥ Jewellery:

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One comment to... “XANDER KOSTROMA – EMI♥ – JEWELLERY DESIGNER”
Avatar
Kelly

Great interview, enjoyed reading it. Love the items!




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