We speak to well-known jewellery designer Melissa Curry, www.melissacurry.com, who began her creative career in the French capital back in 1998.
Melissa’s collections have appeared at the Royal Wedding and have been gifted to the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. They are also worn by the Hollywood actress, Irishwoman Saoirse Ronan, and singer-songwriter, Imelda May and about to be lauched by Virgin Airlines.
To mark the Irish Design 2015(#ID2015), Melissa is launching a new website for her #beyourownsuccess collection, which has connected women throughout the world to ‘inspire, encourage and celebrate’.
Melissa is launching the full collection at the IJL show in London this September at the Olympia, from 6th – 9th September.
Melissa – your jewellery has won the hearts of many on the international stage, but where did it all begin?
I left Ireland shortly after my Leaving Cert and travelled to Paris to pursue my dreams at 17.
In 1997, I started to develop my own lines of accessories and launched my first collection at Leclaireur, Paris. This was followed by an invitation to show at Paris Fashion week in 1999 where I met the buyer from Liberty of London, who picked my label up and asked me to meet her at HQ in London where they proposed I spearhead their millennial advertising campaign.
In 2004, my son arrived on the scene, so life took a whole new meaning. Due to his ill health, I had to step out of my career and follow a different path, which has inspired my new collection for girls and women called: #beyourownsuccess.
Tell is more about the #beyourownsuccess concept?
My target market is everyone, prodominatly girls and women. The #beyourownsuccess concept carries a meaning for everyone.
It touches all demographics and connects us all to a lovely message which is full of optimism and beauty, fun and uplifting; each piece has an in-built positive psychology.
What collections have you enjoyed working on so far?
I really enjoyed working on the Royal Wedding- I designed a special jewellery collection called ‘Midnight Royal’ for a dear friend of The Duchess of Cambridge.
I also designed the Smartie Collection during the Obama Presidential inauguration. This was to inspire hope and endurance; I replaced the string of pearls with colourful and 3D light enhancing beads, which were to represent the colours of the world and people in it.
What initial challenges did you encounter when setting up the business?
Business is a constant challenge - that’s a part of being an entrepreneur. I had no problem believing that my product would work and the message would resonate with women.
However, follow through and funding have been an extra challenge.
Once you step outside Ireland, one quickly realises that you can lose a lot of time chasing agencies and funding requirements. Really, one is better off focusing on sales and contracts which are way more important to you and the overall plan and development.
As Ireland re-emerges from an economic low, risk is inevitably tighter. To be honest, if you have a vison for world markets, my advice is to seek advice from the outside as it will be more realistic to your global vision and business.
Any career highlights to date?
Yes, you have to hold on tight to the highlights, and remind yourself of them during the more difficult challenges.
I was of course very excited and grateful when Mrs Kenny and An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, gifted the first three rose gold bracelets to the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama and her daughters; a woman and mother of extraordinary strength who supports and encourages women worldwide.
I am thrilled to have our pieces reach out to so many influential women who inspire others along the way. Oprah received hers on International Women’s Day in 2014, and it has been more recently gifted to Bobbi Brown. The wonderful and inspiring Saoirse Ronan wears success too. And now the upcoming Virgin Airlines launch, which is exciting.
Tell us about your collaboration with the KISANY Living Linens Project?
The Kisany Living Linens is run by a group of Belgian Women and mothers who have successfully trained over 120 women (who have been victims of abuse, war) to sew and embroider.
Each and every woman is now self-sustained providing a home, food and education for their children. They are so grateful and happy, it’s contagious.
We are very honoured to be collaborating with this amazing group of women who strive to make a difference (www.Kisany.com).
What Irish-based entrepreneurs do you admire and why?
The IIBN (Irish International Business Network) has been a great source of inspiration where I have met an incredible source of inspiring entrepreneurs.
The creatives, like Brown Bag Films come to mind. They have a great story and an amazing global operation- they followed a dream and made it into reality.
I have huge admiration for Domini Kemp from ‘Itsa’ here in Ireland.
How has the Local Enterprise Office Dublin City supported your business so far?
I received a feasibility grant in 2013, from which I built my prototype and vision.
Local Enterprise Office Dublin City has been a great support morally, and has always shared and encouraged my business from the day of concept right through to this point in time. They have a super team who really do want to make things happen and support innovation and change.
What advice would you give to other designers, who may be thinking of starting up their own business?
If you believe you will succeed, look outward and get as much help and support from people in your industry who have the knowledge and experience you can learn from.
Be sure you have the tenacity it will take, as it is a very tough industry with lots of highs and lows.
Final words of encouragement?
Reach for the stars and remember it’s the journey and not the outcome.
Believe in your dreams, and remember to share and do well along the way. Build with purpose and make it a better world.
Our thanks to Melissa Curry for taking part in this interview for #ID2015.
For more information on Melissa and her collections, please visit www.melissacurry.com; find her on Facebook at @MelissaCurry, on Twitter at @MelissaJCurry, or on Instagram at: #Beyourownsucces
To find out more about Irish Design 2015, please visit www.irishdesign2015.ie
(Photography credit: Sarah Doyle Photography)