The close friends behind Elewa Jewellery, an affordable line fit for students’ pockets.
Third-year BA Wits University students, and friends, Amirah Lamidi (20) and Kanya Vuza (22) launched a new website for their business Elewa Jewellery in May 2021. Prompted by a gap in the market for alternative, affordable and quality jewellery, they decided to create something proudly African with their handmade jewellery business.
“Elewa” is a Yoruba word meaning ‘the one that holds beauty,’ reflecting Lamidi’s Yoruba roots, an ethnic group in Nigeria. Vuza said that she wanted the name of their business to be a Yoruba word and tasked Lamidi with finding the perfect one. “When we were first thinking of [names] we thought of Orë [which is Yoruba for ‘friend’] but sadly a jewellery store with that name already existed,” said Vuza.
The business has been running since February 1, 2021, and since then they have sold about 300 jewellery pieces and at present have 1 300 followers on Instagram. Until recently Elewa was operating solely on Instagram, via a DM (direct message) to purchase basis, but they soon realized that a dedicated website would open them up to more customers. “We had our customers experience in mind and felt it would be more efficient,” notes Lamidi. They also had to think of possible customers who do not have Instagram accounts and would not be able to order via DM, they had to make it accessible to everyone.
When they started their business, they thought their market would be people like them- fem-bodied university students. They quickly became aware that their jewellery was more popular with males and customers much younger than their projected target market. Their bestselling items are all the pieces in the Ferrari collection.
One can imagine that running a business with your friend is not easy, but they note that managing their business and friendship has not been challenging, as they wanted to start a business together for a while. “[Being friends has] almost been a benefit because we can be completely honest with each other when making decisions,” notes Vuza. Although it has not been completely smooth sailing, it has been made easier due to the honesty and transparency between the two. They have been partners and teammates in other aspects of life and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses they say.
The success of Elewa is also owed to friends and family, who have supported the business and been present for every milestone. Lamidi mentions that they have not just been supportive from the sidelines but in a very hands-on approach; often manning stalls, setting up tents at markets and modelling jewellery pieces. Not to mention always sharing Elewa Jewellery content on their stories and statuses.
While Elewa may be the new kid on the scene of the small, independent jewellery scene, they plan to grow as much as possible and hopefully expand into other markets, [imagine] an Elewa clothing line,” said an optimistic Lamidi.
FEATURED IMAGE: Close friends and business partners Amirah Lamidi & Kanya Vuza. Photo: Provided
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