Her passion for jewellery was beyond anything, and that is why after completing her studies in Finance, Vandana Jagwani chose jewellery over everything else and came up with her own jewellery brand ‘Vandals’, which specializes in lab-grown diamonds!
Abhishansa Mathur was in a conversation with the founder of Vandals, Vandana Jagwani about her journey of starting a sustainable jewellery brand that combines traditional jewellery with new-age capabilities of lab-grown diamonds.
Where did it all begin for you?
Jewellery has been a family business and since I already had a fondness for it, I began researching and studying it in more detail. It didn’t take very long for me to be completely taken in by it, and I decided to pursue an education in jewellery.
Can you tell us something about you?
I’m 29 years old. I have studied finance and marketing from Boston and London. After studying finance, I came back with an aim to start a business but I wasn’t quite sure which field was my calling. Then I began studying jewellery, and fell in love with it. That’s how I knew what I wanted to pursue.
Please share the What, When, & How of starting your brand Vandals?
I returned home after studying finance, and I knew for sure that I wanted to start a business. It wasn’t until I started researching and studying jewellery that I realized I had found my true calling. While studying diamonds, I discovered the concept of lab-grown diamonds, which to me, is very fascinating, as I couldn’t tell the difference with the naked eye or even the microscope. Upon further research, I realized that it’s not a simulation, but a real demand with added advantages. I was quite taken in by the quality of lab-grown diamonds; they were more environmentally friendly and affordable. I decided to change the outlook of the consumers while purchasing diamonds, and introduce them to a more sustainable and inexpensive alternative.
That is how my brand, Vandals, came into existence. It draws inspiration from the philosophy of street art, which questions and challenges the status quo, and makes us eager to leave our own mark.
Can you walk us through your journey so far?
My journey with Vandals has taught me so much, a lot of it is unexpected. Having never planned to start a jewellery business, I learned so much from my experience with my brand. It just taught me that, every year you keep growing, and so you have to keep putting in more effort. Your education in terms of the work that you do is never really over; there is always so much more to learn and discover. With your efforts, knowledge, and hard work, you become better with each passing year, and today I can say that I am better than I was last year, and I hope to be even better next year. It’s been a great process, and I’ve managed to do so much – starting with a pret line, moving on to higher jewellery, and now having a brand of my own. I’m glad to move upwards, and while it has its challenges it has its rewards as well.
What are some of the challenges that you faced while running Vandals?
One of the biggest challenges is to educate the consumer about lab-grown diamonds. It’s a wonderful industry, and one of the few sustainable products that are relatively affordable than its regular counterpart. Plus, jewellery is a very traditional industry in India, and breaking through the barrier in terms of entry and competition is a challenge in itself.
What according to you makes Vandals stand out amongst other brands?
Vandals is a fresh perspective, a view of what the future of jewellery design could be. The jewellery is designed to combine a lineage in traditional jewellery with new-age capabilities of lab-grown diamonds. Our brand’s core is it’s an ideology that translates into everything we do. It’s a little rebellious, a little bit of a challenge, and a lot of individualism. Vandals is composed of individual styles and every piece is like graffiti, encouraging you to tell a story of your own. The brand’s philosophy surrounds a revolution outside of societal rules and creating your own ideology. It breaks societal barriers. Most people inquire about natural diamonds but aren’t aware of the processes behind it. We question a lot of the current audience and wish to educate them for a better tomorrow.
How are you using social media to promote your homegrown brand?
We use our social media very differently because Vandals is an ideology. We integrate a lot of art, jewellery, and thought on our social media handles, and try to showcase our brand identity through that, which is trying to break through and not be extremely traditional. Vandals have collaborated with a lot of young people, and youth public figures, who feature on our pages and advocate for us. In the digital world, social media is almost like a lookbook. It is also a platform for us to connect with clients and educate them about the brand.
What is your 5-year plan for Vandals?
Well, there’s a lot to come. A lot of growth and expansion, hopefully, and tapping into different markets. We are mainly trying to further our ideology of breaking free from societal norms and stigmas, and helping people make their own informed choices; making those choices because they are logical and thought-out, and not because you are under any compulsion from those around you.
Can you share your business model with us?
So, although it is lab-grown and affordable, we are a luxury brand. We are heavily based on design, innovation, and art. We aren’t into e-commerce right now, we have more of a brick-and-mortar setup, because of how niche the concept is. Also, we believe that jewellery requires a lot of touches and feel for one to select the piece that is perfect for them.
Of course, giving how things have changed with the pandemic, we do offer new services like virtual appointments and at-home appointments, but as of now we are retail and we would like to grow in a niche boutique set up, with a lot attention to the client as well, to personalize and customize accordingly.
One advice/suggestion you’d like to give aspiring entrepreneurs out there.
Aim to keep growing and compete with past versions of your own self, and for that you need to keep learning and educating yourself about the work that you do. Knowledge is limitless and it is the foundation for lifelong growth.
Vandana recommends you buy their emerald necklaces made entirely of spring, and their palette ring that symbolizes the brand, with the 3D work and gemstones involved in its making!