One year on from our interview with up-and-coming ethical jewellery brand Rhimani, Annabel Mulliner catches up with Rhimani’s founder, Izzy, on the progress the brand has made in the last 12 months.
Since we last spoke to Izzy, the founder of Rhimani Jewellery, the brand’s popularity has massively grown, with their earrings even being featured in Vogue.
For those not in the know, their core mission is to raise money and awareness for wildlife conservation and education. All of their items are individually handmade, with (at least) 10% of profits donated to charities which protect endangered animals. Their ‘Handmade in Nairobi’ range is handcrafted by women from the Maasai tribe, who are well known for their intricate beadwork. The rest of the range, while inspired by Maasai beadwork, is handcrafted by Izzy in London.
Izzy explains that their mantra is “each month, a different charity”. The chosen charities have recently moved from being purely conservation based to reflecting current events; June’s charity was Black Lives Matter UK.
While other businesses have crashed and burned under the weight of the pandemic, Rhimani has sailed through the rubble, gaining followers, launching gorgeous new products and setting up a new HQ in London. I asked Izzy for the key to Rhimani’s success – “I believe it is word of mouth. I do not pay for advertising or have a marketing budget” she says. “I want each and ev-e-ry customer to have an awesome Rhimani experience. If so, they’ll hopefully share positive words about Rhimani to friends and family”.
Though outwardly Rhimani seemed to be plain sailing, Izzy tells me that the road through the pandemic was “bizarre”. “I packed up the HQ in London and moved everything home to run the business from my parents’ home in Northamptonshire. I was so nervous that it was going to be the end for Rhimani”. But thankfully, that wasn’t the case. “I truly am thankful that people really supported my small business during lockdown”. Thanks to the continued support of her customers, Izzy moved into a new studio in South Wimbledon, and hired an assistant to help out with the ever-increasing number of orders.
But with this incredible growth in business and the orders flowing in daily, surely this presents challenges for maintaining sustainability? “I will always strive to make Rhimani as eco-friendly as I possibly can” Izzy assures me. “For example, all our materials used are sustainable. Our jewellery is handmade using glass seed beads, not plastic”.
In terms of the wider jewellery industry, Izzy’s hopes for an eco-revolution have certainly increased since last year. “I think that the jewellery industry, a branch off the fashion industry, is really striving to be more sustainable! A year ago, I could only dream of it, but now I can really see brands making a conscious effort to reduce their waste and working to be eco-friendly!” Sustainability may be becoming ‘trendier’ for mainstream brands, but this wouldn’t be the reality without independent brands like Rhimani setting an example of sustainable design in action.
As well as producing sustainable jewellery, Rhimani has recently expanded their range, by producing limited edition clothing. As with the jewellery, there’s a focus on using sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton. When I asked what else we can expect in the near future, Izzy tells me “sadly, I don’t want to give too much away. However, limited edition clothing is going to be a big feature for Rhimani later this year!” So, watch this space if you want to snag some gorgeous, made-to-last pieces to compliment your Rhimani jewellery.
And what other ethical brands would Izzy recommend? “So many! Lucy & Yak, We Are Hairy People, Balulu Garms, Good Trip Clothing, Aesthetic Laundry, just to name a few. I buy many of my clothes from Depop, I really love all the sustainable brands you find hidden in that app.”
Izzy started Rhimani right out of university, so naturally I ask if she’s got any golden tips for other young people looking to start their own businesses. “I’m not ready to give advice!” she reveals. “I get asked this question quite often and I’m like – ‘friends I am very much starting out!’ I’m the one that’s seeking the advice, I’m not ready to issue it”. As modest as Izzy is, Rhimani is clearly on the up and up – and we at WILD cannot wait to see where the future is headed for them.
If you’re interested in getting involved in Rhimani’s mission, they are currently looking for Uni Reps to help increase their sales – applications close on the 24th August and you can find details of how to apply on their Instagram, @rhimaniuk.
About the Author: Annabel Mulliner is Managing Editor of WILD, and studies English Literature at the University of York.