Five Minutes with the Founder | Anabela Chan
Today we meet Brand of Tomorrow 2020 Anabela Chan, founder of her eponymous jewellery brand: the first fine jewellery brand in the world to champion laboratory-grown and created gemstones with high jewellery design and artisanal craftsmanship and a focus on sustainable and ethical innovations.
Tell us the story of how you built your brand
As a designer/maker trained artistically with no formal business training, I have built my brand organically with a defined vision, a lot of commonsense and gut instincts. I founded my eponymous brand six years ago on graduation from the Royal College of Art, where I trained for my Master of Arts in Goldsmithing, Silversmithing and Jewellery; and launched my brand with Selfridges, The Conran Shop and Luisa Via Roma with five international awards from Vogue Talents, The Goldsmiths Craft and Design Council and Gemmological Association of Great Britain. I presented private jewellery trunk shows around the world, from London, Paris to Milan, Hong Kong to Dubai before opening my first stand-alone boutique at the Ham Yard Hotel in Piccadilly Circus.
With no advertising and strictly discovered through word of mouth, our unique jewels are presented at some of the most prestigious boutiques in the world including Fortnum & Masons, Lane Crawford Hong Kong and Moda Operandi New York. This year, Beyonce, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Anne Hathaway, Julia Roberts, Lupita Nyong’o and Taylor Swift, amongst other global superstars, have all graced red carpet and events wearing our enchanting, statement pieces.
Why did you choose to set up your business in the luxury sector?
True luxury transcends time and space. Jewellery is empowering, it brings joy, inspires emotions and elevates the spirit like no other. It is about offering inspiring, beautifully-crafted jewels with longevity; works of art that are proudly worn, loved and treasured forever from one generation to the another.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
To be able to create magic and see women light up when wearing my creations. My job allows me to travel far and wide; from meeting our global stockists and clients, to collecting inspirations, gems and treasures along the way from local markets, nature and the intriguing people I meet. I’m a world traveller and explorer at heart.
What and/or who is your source of inspiration and motivation?
When I founded my eponymous brand on graduation, it was my mission to offer a different perspective in the industry – I wanted to create equally beautiful and fabulous one-of-a-kind jewels using laboratory-grown and created gemstones without the conflict, humanitarian and environmental issues and untraceable provenance associated with mining. I find a potent synergy in the juxtaposition of precious and non-precious, natural and man-made materials, it is luxury with a touch of humbleness. As a designer I choose to focus my work with lab-grown, created and recycled gemstones and metals; I also admire the work of other designers who champion recycled materials, who work solely with reputable mines and support small scale artisanal miners directly. As with all design discipline, I believe it is about learning from the past, to offer a different perspective in the present, and always with a dream for a better future. As Maya Angelou said, ‘’Do the best you can until you know better. And when you know better, do better.’‘
If you could have any other job in the world what would it be?
Travel writer, photographer, documentary film producer.
If you could do something differently in your career what would it be?
I would love to be working from somewhere a little warmer, with more sunshine and in front of the sea or ocean.
Where do you see yourself and your company in 10 years’ time?
Still doing what I am doing today, perhaps with a few more boutiques around the world.
What does success look like to you?
Personally, success also looks like a relaxing, sunny afternoon with my children and husband doing the things we love together.
Professionally, to be able to do what I love, and make a difference in the world and touch on people’s lives where it matters most. I’m not particularly spiritual, but I love this saying by the Dalai Lama, ‘We are all visitors on the planet. We are only here for one hundred years at the very most. During that period we must try to do something good, something useful, with our lives. If you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true meaning of life.’
What advice do you have for any young entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
Follow your heart and passion, as it is the only path that you will be able to overcome obstacles after obstacles. Common sense and your gut instincts go a long way, trust it explicitly. You always know your business best. And for working mothers –self-care is paramount – stay healthy and fit, as you will need plenty of stamina.
What is your greatest luxury under £10?
A fresh, blossoming peony flower or a pistachio and coconut gelato ice-cream on a hot sunny day in front of the glistening turquoise Mediterranean Sea.