Jewellery Affair CEO, Folashade Adeshoye may not be on everyone’s face, but she is making a significant mark in the luxury retail sector. In this interview with FUNKE OSAE-BROWN, she talks about how she turned her love for fine jewellery into a business.
A jewellery boutique is tucked away at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island. The place though has been catering to the needs High Networth Individuals (HNIs) who love fine bespoke jewellery. Jewellery Affair may not be in everyone’s face, but the store is known only to the exclusive few who see the worth of fine jewellery made of diamonds and other precious stones.
At the helm of affairs at this high-class jewellery boutique is Folashade Adeshoye. She lives a very private life like most of her clients. Her taste for fine jewellery launched her into the world of expensive jewellery more than two and a half decades ago.
As a young woman, she would travel to Italy to buy from retail stores for her personal use. Whenever she returned, she would show them to her friends, who raved on how much they loved her pieces. They would offer to buy them from her. She sold to them with a little margin added to cover her travel costs.
One day, while visiting her sister in London, she got information on a jewellery exhibition holding in Vicenza, Italy, which was attended by the best jewellery Maison globally. Before attending a show at Vicenza that year, she taught herself everything she could learn about jewellery design by reading every jewellery catalog and books. By the time she travelled to Italy for the exhibition, she was ready to order her designs which took home to Nigeria to begin her jewellery businesses.
Friends visited her home to buy some of the pieces she brought in from Italy. Before long, they were sold out. That single step led to the birth of Jewellery Affair.
“I decided to go into Luxury retail because I saw a gap in the luxury jewellery market in Nigeria,” says Adeshoye. “I saw that most Nigerians love jewellery, especially women, however a lot of women, myself included, often had to go abroad to places like Milan to acquire our jewellery. Once I saw the joy it brought to my friends when they buy beautiful jewellery off of me here at home in Lagos, I immediately knew it was an important and smart business to do, especially as there were hardly any other luxury jewellery stores at the time.”
Also, Adeshoye saw a gap in jewellery designs as most of the ones Nigerians loved were not available locally. “Nigerians have an extravagant culture, and we love to express ourselves boldly and proudly. But a lot of the diamond pieces for example, that one could find back in the were often very understated and minimalist. I knew that once I started selling my jewellery, they would be vivacious pieces that reflected their worth at first glance,” she explains.
Her brand name, Jewellery Affair came to be when she decided to deal with everything fine jewellery, from an 18 Karat Gold and Diamond base to designing bespoke pieces that are unique to her clients.
“We have pieces adorned with gemstones like Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Precious and semi-precious stones like onyx, aquamarine, amethyst, algate amongst others. We have readymade full sets (includes earrings, necklaces and rings) to stand alone unique pieces, to engagement rings, to customised watches. Anything you can think of in 18 Karat gold or diamonds, we can bring it to life for you.”
Located on Ozumba Mbadiwe Street, Victoria Island, a very accessible and well-known street in the heart of the city, Jewellery Affair store is housed at the famous Civic Center, an upscale event
Jewellery Affair stocks some of the best world-renowned jewellery brands. It stocks brands from Italy like Roberto Coin, Fope, Chimento, Santa Augustino amongst others.
Jewellery Affair has something for everyone who loves to live the good life and stand out of the crowd.
“We have something for everyone and every age group. From trendy women and men and that has an eye for luxury to babies for whom we make customised pieces. We like to say that Jewelry affair is for the smart Nigerian because they know a good investment. Our jewellery is an ideal investment as the value of 18 Karat gold only appreciates with time. When I started this business, a gram of gold cost $8, while today the same gram sells for up to $70. The diamonds we sell can also always be detached from their jewellery pieces and re-sold at a significant rate, making their value indeed last forever.”
The Civic Center store is the sole store Adeshoye owns at the moment. However, she plans to open another one soon. Recently, she made some exciting renovations to the Civic Center store -the space was expanded to give it a chic facelift.
“Luxury retail in Nigeria has been an excellent experience. Nigerians are luxurious by nature, and we have many occasions that call for the adornment of fine jewellery, so naturally, the market has allowed our business to thrive. The luxury retail industry was at its infancy when I started 25 years ago, but over time, various improvements have also allowed the business to be more easily managed, including better security services which the Civic Center undoubtedly provides.”
Like every business, Adeshoye has had her fair share of the challenges faced by business owners in Nigeria. “The main challenge, I would have to say, has been the fluctuating foreign exchange rate of recent years and the recession. As our jewellery is sourced from Italy, the increasing exchange rate made it particularly difficult to make sales, as our prices increased overnight.”
Another challenge she is facing is piracy and fakes. “I have faced the challenge of other non-luxury jewellery sellers copy my designs and produce fake silver versions which they sell at lower prices. However, silver fades after a few months, while our pieces last forever because gold will always be gold and diamond will always be diamond. Our clients know this, and so we’ve continued doing what we do best by providing them with ever new and stunning designs.”
In the same vein, like any successful business, she has not relented. For her to stay afloat, she innovated and did what the times demanded of her. “We reduced our profit margins, and also came up with an affordable and ultramodern line that targets the younger generation called Meeya’s Gold Link (MGL). Through active social media and other marketing efforts, the launch of MGL enabled daily sales even to skyrocket and kept the business very relevant even throughout the recession.”
Part of her growth strategy is to attend jewellery shows around the world to keep abreast of some of the latest innovations, designs and brands in the industry.
“I have attended loads of jewellery exhibitions around the world, from the Vicenza fair to JCK Las Vegas to Baselworld. Baselworld is a great experience because the companies and manufacturers you meet there are unique for dealing with top brands of watches adorned with diamonds, gold and other precious stones.”
The next big step for Adeshoye is to start making a jewellery line of the most exclusive and unique diamond masterpieces whereby only two or three of each design would exist in the world.