Itoro Okon graduated with a degree in Geology from Carleton University, Canada, and worked in both the mineral exploration and oil and gas exploration industries for 3 years before moving back to start her jewelry line, Jewelry by Itoro Okon. She talks to Joy Ehonwa about her inspiration and her entrepreneurial dreams.
CN: Why did you decide to become a jewelry designer and how did you start your jewelry production business?
I knew I loved using my hands to create and build things. After a conscious search and trying different things, I developed a passion for jewelry making. It started out as a hobby and now it has turned into a business.
CN: How did you raise capital to start your business?
As I mentioned, it started as a hobby when I had a full-time job, so I would save a little bit from my income to buy tools, materials and learn techniques. Whatever I sold at that point I would immediately put it back into the business- then still a hobby.
CN: What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Trying to create a structure in an underdeveloped industry.
CN: Which groups of people did you have in mind when setting up this business?
Chic urbanites who wanted to make a statement at occasional events.
CN: How do you get inspiration for your different designs?
I get inspiration from anything and everything. I often tell people that even if you lock me up in a room I can come up with a collection.
CN: What do you enjoy most about your business?
Creating something from nothing and being a part of people’s happy memories.
CN: What would you say makes your jewelry unique?
I tell stories with my pieces and I’m able to translate it into my unique designs. Every stone is carefully sourced and a lot of attention is given for perfect details.
CN: What is the next level for Itoro Okon?
I want to manufacture all jewelry accessories here in Nigeria and integrate more technology into our design process.