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MEET ADELE DEJAK

She designs bold, beautiful accessories and has also expanded into lifestyle and handbags, ELLE meets Nigerian born Adele Dejak

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ELLE: What’s your personal relationship with jewellery?

I started my own line because I couldn’t find anything in shops that I thought, ‘wow, I have to have that.’ I also wanted to express myself in a very distinctive way.

ELLE: Do you have a trusted piece of accessory that you never leave home without?

Yes I do. My bracelets and a statement neck piece.

ELLE: When did you launch your eponymous label?

I started collecting African beads at the age of five, and my mom, Grace, wore beautiful African wax outfits every day and was the most stylish woman around. Her love of African textiles was passed down to me. I became seriously involved in fashion in 2005 when I founded my company, Magik Grace Art and Design Ltd. I started off with one staff member and now I have 30 permanent employees who play different roles in my company. I also work with other independent small-scale artisans with whom I have cultivated long-term business relations.

ELLE: What inspired your design career?

I had toyed with the idea of jewellery design for many years; in fact, a good friend in London was a well-known jewellery designer and insisted I should follow my dream. I didn’t feel I was good enough or talented enough, and I lacked a lot of confidence in starting a fashion line. Luckily, I had a few friends in Nairobi who insisted I start a business, mostly because each piece I created for my own personal use resonated with people and became in demand. Later on, a chance meeting with a friend at a party sparked a new beginning. She encouraged me to create pieces for sale when she saw the necklace I wore and I did. My first exposure was at a Craft Fair in Nairobi and then I opened a shop, and the rest, as they say, is history.

ELLE: Where do you source your materials from?

I source my materials from all over Africa. And my designs are assembled in my workshop in Kiambu, on the outskirts of Nairobi.

ELLE: Tell us about your current jewellery collection?

Almaz is a bold statement on embracing and protecting our identities, and leaving our own mark in this world. A mark that will tell of our unshaken resolve to shed light on our cultures and to stand tall as Africans.

ELLE: You’ve expanded your brand’s reach with a lifestyle collection, as well as handbags, belts and sandals; how has that expansion changed the way you look at business?

The expansion into lifestyle as well as fashion accessories has had a positive outlook on the business. This has been achieved by the fact that people love the brand and wish to have a piece of it even if it’s not jewellery or the bags.

ELLE: Have you collaborated with any international fashion houses?

Our collaboration with Salvatore Ferragamo has obviously been a high for the brand, but my recent participation at the #AmazeAfrica Samsung project (in 2013) was really amazing and just made all the hard work very worthwhile.

ELLE: What’s big for summer 2015?

Bold necklaces that really stand out, large clutch bags for special occasions and dinners, and statement cuffs.

ELLE: Tell us about #MyHeartsBeatsAfrica campaign.

The campaign is about sharing and celebrating the extensive diversity that Africa has to offer through images, fashion, music and art, and urging all Africans to embrace their identities and share positive vibes.

ELLE: What advice were you given that you could share with aspiring designers?

Passion is the driving engine for anything you want to achieve in life. Even when things do not always turn exactly as you had planned, never ever give up.

To shop the brand visit adeledejak.com

You can find Adele Dejak on Twitter, Instagram and issuu.

Image: Supplied/Richard Keppel-Smith