Founder of Hong Kong jewelry brand Sarah Zhuang Jewellery, Sarah Zhuang designs pieces to celebrate modern women and their personalities. The award-winning jewelry designer shares her passion for innovative design.
ABOUT SARAH ZHUANG JEWELLERY
Launched in 2017, Sarah Zhuang Jewellery is a collection aimed at contemporary women. Sarah works with precious gemstones sealed in 18-carat gold to create versatile pieces that are perfect for all occasions.
A FEW WORDS OF ADVICE
A family affair
My family has been in the jewelry industry for over 20 years. It was my mom's business -- she used to open jewelry shops in China, and then my sister took over about 6 years ago.
My sister runs the business-side, including the accounting and finance, because I’ve always been more artistic. After I graduated from university, my sister suggested that I step up on the design side.
Striking out on her own
I started preparing for my own brand about three years ago. Sarah Zhuang Jewellery launched on the February 9, 2017. It's a fine jewelry brand that is more modern, with five different collections
Versatility is key
I try to design from different perspectives, from daywear to nightwear. I find something to fit each schedule. Our latest watch is the Tourbilllon watch -- it turns into jewelry.
Find your partner in crime
I think I have learned a lot from my sister, because she has been in this business longer than I have. She is also more familiar with the China and Hong Kong markets.
One of the biggest problems for every designer is that sometimes we are so focused on the design that we aren’t that practical.
When I first started out, I would just think about the design aspect and would come up with some crazy ideas that weren’t workable.
Nowadays we have become partners and always discuss al collections and whenever I design something new, I always consider what she thinks the market or our customers would accept.
[Hong Kong actress and Cantopop singer] Cecilia Cheung has been really great to me and has been one of my clients throughout the years.
She has been very supportive of my designs and often buys my pieces and asks her photographer to take photos of her wearing my jewelry.
You should try to learn from your competitors, but don’t ever try to imitate them –- try to come up with something original.
Attend jewelry fairs
A great place to start is jewelry shows. We’ve met a lot of manufacturers and suppliers and clients and retailers at jewelry shows.
We look for manufacturers and spend days walking around hundreds of booths, picking the ones we think have good quality craftsmanship.
Save some cash
Our office is our show room. We set up a showroom inside an office building, which saved us a lot of rent and led to another competitive advantage.
A lot of people are doing this in Hong Kong now, because it hugely saves on costs.
Learn, learn, learn
Try to take a course in what you want to do -- for me that was a huge changing point. When I took a jewelry design course, I instantly realized that it was my passion.
When you learn new things, you become more creative and passionate. It's really motivating!
A FEW MORE QUESTIONS
How do you unwind?
I get asked this a lot! Monday to Friday I work. Sunday is the time when I don’t talk to anyone. I stay at home and write science fiction -- that’s my alone time.
What’s your favorite type of holiday?
When I have time to go on holiday, I like to go snowboarding or snorkelling -- something active!
What tools do you use?
I carry a little sketchbook where I keep my ideas. I’m more of a traditional person -- I’m not that into apps.
Do you have any go-to snacks?
I like to drink Earl Grey and eat sweets. That really calms me. When I think, I tend to snack a lot on cookies and crackers. I love any sort of cupcakes, pancakes, banana bread -- anything like that.
What else keeps you sane?
I love music. The city gets way too noisy and you need to be in your own zone. I love rap and hip hop.
What are your favorite brands for work clothes?
I really like this Hong Kong local brand called Pia -- they have really cool clothes. They're very versatile and you can play with all of the pieces according to your own preferences. The style is very sophisticated and elegant.
What lessons from a mentor have stuck with you?
I had lunch with an amazing designer named Jessica Fong. She was one of the most creative jewelry designers in Hong Kong. I really look up to her.
One of my concerns in the beginning was about brand positioning. She told me to “always aim high." She said as long as you always have good quality and design, people are willing to spend the money. That was very powerful for me.
Which social media channels are crucial to your brand?
Definitely Instagram and Facebook. There is a large jewelry community on Instagram. If you know the right accounts to follow, it is quite easy to tap into the jewelry industry.
Not many people go on a company’s website, most people go straight to Instagram so that’s very important.