Nawar’s journey started back in 2009 when she was on vacation with her family in Ghana. She noticed many people wearing beads and stones, and when she saw what techniques they used for baking them up and how to mix up colors and styles. She fell in love with that and took a jewelry-making course in Ghana. Shortly after, in 2010, Nawar put together a collection and sold it in her school. The reaction was shockingly good. People loved the jewelry made out of beads which resulted in her making a lot of money because she thought she could turn this into a business.
Nawar Kamal says that people thought her work was weird big chunky beads with gold when she started working. It wasn’t what they usually saw in jewelry, and that did not sit right with them. Only a few people supported her in this venture, one of them being her friend and inspiration, Tibian Bahari, and she continues to support her until now by tagging her in posts she thinks Nawar would like. Besides, her art is unconventional, so that is also something they bond on.
When she started her brand, her envisioned styles led her to use earth-friendly materials such as discarded animal bone, trade beads, coral, recycled glass and shells, lava beads, and brass. Using such diverse materials also helped her understand that there aren’t any things like waste materials. If you use materials correctly, you can create art out of them; this makes her pieces stand out using original materials. Her signature touch is mixing brass and beads to create beautiful pieces.
To add a modern touch to her jewelry, she uses diamonds, flowers, pearls, and crystals and mixes them with her signature style; beads. There isn’t a specific theme of her work. That is art for her, and the process is fluid which is, of course, impacted by inspiration, the time she has, managing existing collections, promotions, and sales. She starts working on a new collection when the previous one was sold over and over.
Nawar says she has seen two kinds of women like her design; Sudanese women appreciate local businesses and like to wear unique pieces and foreign people who want to have a piece of African art with them. Many people are into this business of blending modern pieces with traditional art. This business is quite profitable because people shy away from the mainstream market and look for unique pieces.
NK jewelry is an eco-friendly brand that is the best thing about it; recently, they launched their birthstones collection. They incorporated the birthstones according to your birth month in their jewelry like if you are a September baby, you can buy jewelry that has sapphire in it.
It is not only Nawar’s jewelry that reflects her culture, but her entire work ethic basis is on the models wearing African prints and exploring Afro-Arab identities things like these generate excitement in social media. Nawar says she is also very particular with the people she works with in makeup artists, photographers, and stylists. She only likes to work with people who complement her work and help her make her voice reach most people. Nawar believes in diversity, and she chooses models with different complexions and hair types so there are more things she can work with and so that her work is different from the work of mainstream artists.
Rewards of running NK jewelry:
The most rewarding thing about running a business is listening to your clients appreciate your work, and when their friends call to place orders, you see your circle is expanding, Nawar says. She also said that another amazing side of this venture is that she turned her passion into a viable business, and she is also
running it efficiently. When I look back at my previous work, I see the difference, which means I have been growing as an artist and a businesswoman. She is also proud of when she stepped out of her Sudan shell and partnered with a brand from Oman, sahwa they are behind the Koronko Fashion House. NK partnered with them two years in a row which helped her step into a more expansive fashion network and design her product.
Nawar says her favorite day of the week is when she goes sourcing her materials to the old bazaar because there are some kinds of beads she can only find there. She meets different vendors, samples a lot of products, and has to bargain a lot, and to reach the Bazar, she has to travel on a rikshaw, but she does not mind any of that as long as she gets her desired products.
Challenges of running NK:
Nawar says her challenges are divided into two categories: her limited production capacity and space and clients who fail to commit to one thing. For example, many clients promise to pick up their orders, which they never do, which can be quite a hassle. Due to her limited capacity, when the influx of orders increases, it gets quite challenging because each product requires extra attention to detail. The workload gets overwhelming for Nawar; she says she is lucky she has friends who are always ready to help her and lend a hand which helps bring the orders up to the schedule.
Another issue she faces is when a client does not pick up their order on time, and another client comes and wants that piece. She thinks this is rather a dilemma that she faces. Sometimes clients also want her to make specific changes to the articles, which is time-consuming and requires a lot of attention.
Impact of Online Shops:
Nawar says that her online platforms have been the driving force in her business. She can showcase her pieces there and talk to clients one on one due to increased businesses on Instagram and Facebook. There was a positive impact on her business and her client base increased; of course, word of mouth also played a part in that. According to Nawar, the best part of showcasing her jewelry online is controlling the product line and one-on-one discussions with clients. That helped her focus on a business’s technical aspects from concepts and then to creation, where to source the materials from, promotions, marketing, sales, and customer service.
Another benefit of their online Instagram shop is that you can read customer reviews in real-time, helping you decide if you should invest in the specific piece. There are both written and video reviews available on their Instagram page. You can also get an insight into the bts of NK jewelry; you can see what goes down in the studio, bts of photoshoots, art direction, and much more on their page. That will build your trust as a client because you can see through the process from design to the final creation.
Nawar says she is working on her goals. Still, she wants to see her business operate out of the Arab countries and dreams of having a customer base in the western market. She will need an online shop for easy delivery of products and seamless receiving of payment. Still, she has not found the solution to this in Sudan yet, and previously she has been declining international clients due to the horrors of logistics and how many mess-ups that lead to. There are some financial restrictions in Sudan that make all of this a nightmare.
Nawar says she is learning as she goes. There is no specific planning that goes into everything, although she is looking for a mentor that could help her with all that has been going on. She is also working on restructuring her business model, and her goal, for now, is a website, a store, and international sales.
She also plans to work on her personal growth since that is very important for any artist. Nawar strongly believes that practice makes a man perfect. She wants to add gold and silver to her work style, pushing her out of her house and into a real workshop because of the equipment required. Her ultimate goal is to establish a center to teach women jewelry design and inspire them to start their ventures similar to what happened to her in Ghaza.