Staying true to yourself and your beliefs while being successful

Smiling young African American businesswoman working on a laptop at her desk in a bright modern office with colleagues in the background

I always loved working with people and a consultancy role in recruitment suited my personality.

I enjoyed building business relations with clients and candidates, I was motivated by searching, finding, and matching candidates to the right company or position. A true entrepreneur at heart, after 3 years of working in corporate real estate and finance recruitment I founded my own recruitment company and coached people seeking a career change and pushing their passion. This drive focused my own attention on my interests, and in 2019, the Ark Jewellery was born.

From day one, I have used recycled or fair-trade materials. Without a doubt, the jewellery business has a particular reputation and disregard for the planet through mining. As an artist, I believe the passion to create art is not just to make a perfect material to create beauty, but also to educate and raise awareness.

Being intrigued by new technologies and 3D design printing, I explored the boundaries of what we can do that are perceived as precious, mixing unusual materials such as wood and fine metals, incorporating gemstones into designs that are elegantly inspired by the fragility and beauty of nature.

Setting up a business at the eve of the pandemic in late 2019 was a huge and unexpected challenge.

The 2019 business plan of meeting the public and participating in live events went out of the window and the whole plan had to be rewritten.

Having the experience of setting up the recruitment business gave me the substance and tenacity I needed. However, they are different businesses! I needed to acquire new skills in visual merchandising, photography, social media and advertising, and product marketing in this venture as well as finding the right platforms to represent and grow the brand with. The creative industry is over saturated and so is the internet selling. I believe you must be passionate, authentic, and very talented to be noticed by anyone. I also had a huge self believe, I felt that I waited so long for the right time and no matter what this is going to be my time!

As a lone designer it was very important to get feedback or vindication from industry at the earliest opportunity. This year has been a roller coaster of recognition and award nominations, all these achievements under my belt are giving me the confidence and determination to grow and succeed in the coming years:

In May 2021 I was nominated in the Professional Jeweller Power List 2021 Rising Star Category in May 2021. 

Selected to take part in the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s new initiative, Getting Started: Stars in the Making 2021-22, putting jewellery and silversmithing talent in the spotlight and championing early career makers. 

Shortlisted finalist in the UK Jewellery Awards 2021 Creative Jewellery Design category. 

My next challenge is to create an online and in person workshop for a “Make your own jewellery” project. Including a serious of videos accessible online while getting several people together is not possible. I am completely out of my comfort zone in creating training videos, editing, and putting all the content together. I would absolutely love the interactive real time mentoring with actual people, I miss the connections and I hope I will be able to participate in such gatherings soon.

Setting up a side hustle to be true to myself and satisfy my creativity has been a huge challenge. For this to become an established and viable business I needed to step outside of my comfort zone, this may be a tough call for all of us but the best way I know to grow in business as well as in person. Running a business with ethical and sustainable practices is close to my heart and an important decision to ensure my business is fit for the future

Kristina SmithAbout the author

Kristina Smith loves creating her unique and award worthy jewellery collections inspired by travel, history, and symbols.

Kristina studied at the Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design at the London Metropolitan University. It was of course a dream come true.

But like many artists, from studying what you love to finding the courage to turn that love into a business took her along a scenic route.

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