KICO Jewellery | Go With Your Gut
Kishanta Comert, native to the Bahamas but has lived most of her life in the Turks and Caicos, is the Founder and Creative Director of Kico Jewellery. In the midst of her wedding planning, Kishanta was searching for the perfect gift item to give her bridesmaids but after hours of searching and nothing sticking, she decided to design what she was envisioning instead. Almost 2 years later, Kishanta has her own jewellery line -- KICO jewellery -- which is available for purchase online and in 6 stores in the Turks and Caicos Islands!
How did Kico come about?
I sort of fell into it. While planning my wedding, I was looking for a clever yet local gift item for my bridesmaids. Since I was getting married in Bahamas, I wanted to gift them something that would remind them of the island as well as our wedding. My husband and I had designed our wedding rings so naturally he suggested I design something for my bridesmaids too. I brushed it off but after continuous searching, I sat down - bottom book - started scribbling and came up with a design for what it is now our Provo Charm Bracelet. My original design concepts were for the Bahamas but I ended up introducing the brand to Turks and Caicos (TCI) first because it was my second home.
How did you decide you want to make this a business?
(as in, why didn’t you simply design the bracelets for your bridesmaids?)
It was only after designing the first piece and seeing it come to life. I had decided to get the opinions of close family members and friends - the question being 'would you wear this?' Ideally this is what any and every designer looks to know. If you can create something that people genuinely like and would actually wear, then you've created something worth introducing into the market space. Specifically for TCI, there are very limited jewelry pieces of quality that are locally made or locally designed and that reflect the TCI in some way. I wanted to offer something that was uniquely designed, could only be purchased in TCI, reflected our culture and our islands, and could be worn forever. It is why I decided to only create the pieces using precious metals. After getting so many yes's and so much support, I decided that this was a recipe for a great business concept and decided to give it a go.
What was your first step?
I came up with three different designs and approached a retailer on island in hopes they would sell it. The first thing he said was that he loved it but instantly asked if I had anything else. He ended up motivating me in a way that wasn’t expected at all and giving me critical advice that made me go home and design more. He pushed me in a way to get business going.
For others that want to start a jewellery brand, can you share your first steps in regards to manufacturing, sourcing and other logistics?
This was probably the most important and time consuming aspect of starting the brand. It took me about 8 months to source everything and everyone needed, to bring the Collection to life. For my current demand, our system works but should that demand change in any way (increase), I would have to go back to the drawing board in many aspects. The keys are having a reputable supplier of precious metal, a fantastic 3D designer, someone who specializes in casting precious metals (Sterling Silver and golds), and learning how to finish jewelry. If you plan to ship worldwide, it is also very important to have a great shipping partner to lower costs as much as possible.
Where is everything made?
The casting is done in Toronto. The process starts with a 3D render of the design. This gets made into a metal mould which punched out with plastic. These are then placed in a casting oven and silver shoots out onto the plastic. Then the piece is oxidized and plated. Finally, the finishing is done right here in the Turks and Caicos.
What makes up the KICO jewellery collection?
Today we have charm bracelets, rings, bar necklaces and cufflinks, all local to Turks and Caicos.
Being an early stage startup, what does success mean to you?
At this stage, it’s about getting people to enjoy my pieces. That is my focus; ensuring that people see the value and that the pieces act as commemoratives of their experiences and time in the TCI. The mission from the beginning is to make sure each piece connects with people here. That’s the goal.
What has been your biggest obstacle?
Getting businesses here to see the vision. The price point is higher than other fashion jewellery, because of the use of precious metals, they go from $60-$160 - so it’s harder to believe in the product, let alone take a risk to sell it. So it was a challenge convincing retailers to see the vision and understand that the concept was to create luxury keepsake pieces that would be timeless in design and lifespan. When people think of souvenir or keepsake pieces, there tends to be an automatic assumption that they are imported and of poor quality. I wanted to disrupt that market and give people something very different.
Is there a right time to start a business?
No. I think you are always going to have reservations and think you have it all figured it out, but you can never really know.
If there was one piece of advice that you would share with other women going out on their own, what would it be?
Go with your gut and your instincts. They’re there for a reason.