KARINA BANKS JEWELLERY - KARINA BANKS
Karina Banks began her work to question what it is to be a woman right now and challenge the unobtainable expectations of beauty that’s rife in our culture. Her jewellery is ‘imperfectly’ handmade to ensure that each piece varies in form; her own personal celebration of non-conformity.
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
I would love to say that I knew exactly what I was doing from the beginning but that would just be a lie. I’ve stumbled onto my pathway through trial and error. I make work that resonates with my own experiences and what’s affecting me at that time. My first ‘Anatomy’ collection (2018) was born out of a re-evaluation on my own femininity. Which is why the work focusses on literal representations of the female form. It was important to me at the time to regain some control over my womanhood which is why my brand celebrates the strength and natural beauty of women.
What’s your favourite thing that you make?
My range of boob-inspired pieces have proved particularly popular. People often come to me with very personal and sometimes painful experiences and want to mark this with a piece of my jewellery. Whether they’ve had/not had children, marking their breast-feeding adventure or beaten breast cancer, I feel extremely honoured when people choose to share these stories and allow me to be a part of that experience.
What are the advantages of being an independent retailer?
You have a more intimate relationship with your customers, which gives you a better insight into what they want from you. Social media can allow you to talk with your audience on a personal level and offers a supportive environment to be creative in.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?
I think finding some funding and being completely sure of what you want to achieve is my advice. I stumbled into running a business. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do at the beginning, I just enjoyed making pretty things for people. At times I’ve felt unclear about what I was aiming for, so having a clear idea of the end goal is key. This way you can make better choices about what you invest your time and money into.
Was it easy to get funding?
I’ve never received funding for my business. I grew the business by good old fashion working. At one time I had 3 jobs to make ends meet! I’m not suggesting this was a wise decision, but I think writing funding applications always daunted me a little. However, it’s something I would definitely consider in the future.
What’s the best thing that’s happened to you as a result of starting your own business?
Starting my business has been a real journey of self-discovery. It’s challenged me in so many ways, but also allowed me to find myself creatively and personally. It’s given me a platform to discuss issues that are important to me and offered the opportunity to meet so many inspiring people. I feel very lucky to have a strong network of powerful women around me that are on similar journeys.
What’s your experience as a woman running your own business?
When I first started my career in jewellery I certainly found it more challenging being a woman in a traditionally male dominated industry. However, as my knowledge grew and I became more confident in my own skills that became less important to me. I’m almost thankful for the challenges I faced in the beginning as its given me the confidence I have today.
Do you feel women are represented in business? Is there a difference between representation in independent businesses and chains?
I think we’re incredibly fortunate to be living in a time where women are increasingly being represented more realistically, or at least the conversations are being started around female representation. I still think there is a long way to go, especially when it comes to bigger chains and how they represent women in-front and behind the scenes. However, independent businesses are starting to make these important changes, and like always, once underground trends are set, big business will follow. So watch this space…
Why do you think it’s important for people to shop in independent businesses?
We have to start consuming in a different way. Smaller independent businesses often provide more high-quality, handmade products that reject the throw-away culture we live in and allow people to be more thoughtful in their purchases. It also supports people that are following their passions, and I’m all for that.
What are you most excited about for the future?
I’m excited that I don’t know what’s around the corner. The business has taken me to some really interesting places recently. In May I painted a huge mural for the Shoreditch-based independent store AIDA and last month I hosted a panel discussion on being a woman in 2019. I feel incredibly lucky I can have so much fun with my job and I’m looking forward to the next weird and wonderful adventure.