We were fortunate to interview Sadia Iqbal of jewellery brand Cervin Blanc recently, she told us about her background in banking and how her love of beautiful jewellery has lead her to being in Switzerland today. We also find out about her business partner Benjamin Harrison and what his role is within Cervin Blanc.
Tell us about the journey that led you to launch your Swiss British hybrid brand Cervin Blanc…
Growing up in the United Kingdom I was always fascinated with the cultural heritage of the country. Particularly the Royal family and Princess Diana’s evolving, yet always elegant styles of clothing & jewellery, so much so that as a little girl, I used to collect cuttings of her image from magazines. Later during my time at university, I began buying and selling some pieces of gold and diamond jewellery as a hobby, an interest I’ve held through the years. Later on, I found myself travelling to Switzerland frequently due to my banking career which lead to a fresh perspective of minimalism in jewellery design and a renewal of my interest in the design and creation of items that could combine these complementary themes.
So for much of my life it existed in the background, largely as a hobby and a personal passion which eventually turned into a business idea over a series of long conversations about business, art and creativity with Benjamin, a friend of mine. His travels as a pilot and my demanding work schedule led us to aspire to a creative but largely digital joint venture where we could both contribute from wherever in the world we might be and develop a business together that could co-exist initially with our existing careers. E-commerce and online shopping, especially in luxury offerings was a relatively new concept which fascinated us both.
In 2015 I moved to Switzerland which sealed the deal and here we are with Cervin Blanc, where I continue to appreciate, explore and sometimes combine the incredible heritage of jewellery design of these two great Nations. Blending the aspirations of Swiss everyday luxury with British classical designs, all in a unique clicks and bricks model where our brand is available worldwide to shop online and displayed in some world renowned locations such as Gstaad Palace, Alpina Gstaad and Zurich Old town. Our location base is growing so there will be more to come. Watch this space.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
The time management required by a rapidly growing creative business combined with a busy banking career… They could co-exist but only for so long, with growing customer interest and success eventually it meant I had to choose a side. Saying goodbye to my banking career in 2020 was the biggest challenge, however my amazing friends from this industry have proven to be the biggest supporters and for that I am grateful.
If you were to describe your business mantra in three words, what would they be?
Do it yesterday…
I am quite hands on in my approach towards things and if I am convinced of an idea, I don’t waste time in over planning, just do it and see. What is the worst that can happen?
What advice would you offer anyone interested in venturing into the world of fine jewellery design?
Its about finding balance of what you as a designer love and what the customers want. If I only create what I love, its rather limiting. Trying to absorb your surroundings, trends, nature and the tastes of customers is very important.
Talk us through an average business day in your life…
The beauty of a creative business is that no two days are alike, I could be in a studio having a creative photoshoot one day and next day in a jewellery workshop working with stone setters. As long as you stay curious as to the end result, willing to explore and learn, everything can be fun.
Business can be an upward struggle at times, what do you do to stay positive?
I think my nature is not to see things as an upward struggle, every misstep presents an opportunity to learn and improve. We only fail if we choose not to learn the lesson and utilize that learning. Banking has conditioned me well in dealing with high stakes situations. If I ever need a pick me up I try to step back and share some time with friends. Tomorrow is another day.
What is your go to quote when lacking motivation?
There are so many wonderful motivational quotes from the great minds and historical figures but one that feels appropriate to me in relation to the realization of this business is the following
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”– Steve Jobs
How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?
Social media plays a great part in the growth of any brand today as it has done for us. It has helped us to develop a growing network effect, connect with some great names, brands, artists, photographers and of course valued customers.
How do you want people to feel when they first see your jewellery?
We want people to feel connected and find our pieces relatable, wearable and affordable.
Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?
Switzerland, it was love at first sight back in 2004 when I first visited and remains so to this day. I am grateful to live in a country I truly love. For something a little more exotic Palawan in the Philippines looks very enticing.
What’s next for you and your brand?
We have some great digitalization offerings planned as well as new displays coming up in some majestic locations around in Switzerland and internationally. We are also working with some famous art studios for forthcoming collaboration pieces. Our aim is to increase product offering and locations in coming year.
Where can people find out more about Cervin Blanc?
Or if you are in the vicinity of Zurich or hiking/skiing in Gstaad, find us at Gstaad Palace, Alpina Gstaad and Zurich Old town. We offer regular giveaways on our Instagram page so don’t forget to follow our page @cervinblanc