How To Start a Successful Jewellery Business

Interview with Tokyo Based Jewellery Designer: Bikudesigns

At Creative and Coffee we are here to advocate for slow fashion and sustainable brands. So I am very excited to be able to share with you this interview with Victoria of Bikudesigns.

Whilst I was living in Japan, I really took to heart the Japanese concept of 勿体無い (Mottainai) which loosely means ‘wasteful’ but also speaks to a sense that we should treasure possessions and try to fix and reuse them as much as possible. The anthesis to fast fashion culture.

Victoria very much embodies this spirit in her business, which recycles vintage kimono, destined for landfills, into beautiful jewellery.

But perhaps it would be better to let Victoria tell you all about her business herself!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.

My name is Victoria Close and I’m the founder of Bikudesigns, a vintage kimono accessories brand based in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo. I source damaged vintage kimono and rescue them from the landfill by creating them into something new.

Did you always think you would go into business for yourself, or did you imagine yourself in a different career?

I’ve always been an entrepreneur in one way or another so it’s not surprising to anyone that I ended up having a full-time business. I had a jewellery side-business when I was in my teens which helped me financially survive university! At that time I was repurposing vintage jewellery in my designs rather than fabric, but the model is not too dissimilar from what I’m doing today.

How To Run a Successful Jewellery Business Pinterest

Why did you start your business?

The first couple of iterations of my business solely existed for the love of making. I honestly love doing anything creative, so at that time it was a way to make money to support my craft. In the early days the business paid for my training in precious metals jewellery, commercial jewellery such as diamond setting and casting (Studio Jewelers, N.Y.) and classical jewellery techniques (Jewelry Arts Institute N.Y.) and funded an Artist in Residence in Sydney. 

My ‘why’ for the business changed when I had my kids and decided to jump into jewellery design full-time in 2016. I was definite I didn’t want to return to my previous job as a primary school teacher and used it as a way to help with a career change to fit around my family.

What’s one thing you wish you had known when you began your business?

I wish someone had told me that the amount of time I would spend in my creative work would only be a small percentage of my week. Presently I spend around 1-2 days making and the rest is filled with marketing, supplies sourcing, admin, customer service, photography and much more!

What are the best resources that have helped you along the way?

Having a ‘Business Bestie’ or an accountability partner has been fantastic for me. My bestie and I have been meeting virtually at least once a week during the pandemic to set goals for our businesses. Having someone there to check in with every week keeps me on track.

I would also recommend seeking professional help when you can for areas of your business you’re not confident in. I’ve taken courses in business, photography, Instagram, SEO, Pinterest, Wholesale and I’m currently in a handmade business Mastermind membership.

How do you successfully promote and market your business?

I have a pretty active social media presence, although I’m trying really hard to manage the amount of time I’m spending there. Marketing for me is making human connections. Having chats in Instagram DMs, spending time in my lovely Facebook VIP Club and of course, email the people on my list regularly (at least twice a month).
Taking part in events and launches that bring me visibility by leveraging another person’s following is a way I have grown my customer base. Joint giveaways, virtual events, podcast appearances, guest-blogging, guest interviews on my blog, joint instagram lives and live stream interviews are just a few ways to get in front of new audiences.

What is your biggest failure, and what did you learn from it?

I wish I’d jumped into full-time business much earlier than I did.  At the beginning I had no idea about how to build a brand and how to market it successfully. I thought that if I had a great product, that was well-designed and well-made that it would sell. 

I learned the hard way that community is the most important aspect of having a business and that creating an email list from day one is the best thing you can do to secure the future of your business. 

What are you proudest of?

I’ve learned a lot along the way through courses, personal research and actually taking the action to build a business that I’m now in a position to help others in my situation. In July 2020 I set up Overseas Makers Guild, a free Facebook community to support handmade business owners living overseas. Ex-pat businesses have a very unique perspective and set of problems that I feel I can help with.

What advice would you give someone wanting to grow a small business similar to yours?

1. Start earlier than you think you should. Don’t over-research the set-up, take action.
2. Find out what matters to you and consistently show up for yourself.
3. Set up an email list from day one.
4. Get clear about who your ideal customer is and talk to their needs.
5. Ask for help when you need it.

Want to get in touch with Victoria? Here are a few helpful links!

Mailing list:
Facebook page:
VIP Club:
Overseas Makers Guild on Facebook:
Overseas Makers Guild on Instagram:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *