She is passion-driven and does not consider her age as a barrier to starting something new and enterprising, Nirukshi De Lanerolle the Founder of Nik Nak jewellery has established herself as one of the most sort after jewellery brands for its unique style and creativity.
Following her retirement, Nirukshi decided to do something different. Within a year she overcame numerous hurdles such as the pandemic and others in order to establish her new venture.
In conversation with Elegant Magazine, she talks about life post-retirement, not letting age come in her way and being exceptional in what you do.
What inspired you to start Nik Nak?
Nik Nak started when I began looking for one-of-a-kind jewellery from other Asian countries for my daughter who likes to push the envelope when it comes to statement jewellery. Unless it was from a large local retailer, I realized that the jewellery available locally for purchase had a one-dimensional look and was playing it safe in the creativity department. I have always enjoyed meeting people from different cultures and I began speaking to them about their work and life and saw an opportunity. At the same time, I was considering retirement after almost 45 years of being employed. The idea of retirement was almost a little scary to consider. At my last job was I worked for a charity that encouraged female survivors of abuse to take up therapeutic jewellery design. This ensured that each girl has a sum allocated for herself when she became an adult from the sales of her creations. Essentially my background working with jewellery, combined with a strong urge to keep working (this time for myself) and the connections I made sourcing for my daughter, came together and just clicked!
Your designs for sale combine chunky, elegant and street style jewellery, what inspires you to curate collections such as this?
My daughter. She, just like me has always veered towards more daring designs and colourful accessories. For her, clothes were secondary and always worked to highlight a statement piece. I realized this was not always the norm amongst young women like her and maybe what was lacking was access to jewellery that was different. I am pleasantly surprised to see our Nik Nak ‘fam’ unafraid to rock the most outrageous look, and how well they style each piece. That being said, we have something for everyone, now branching out to a minimal 925 silver pieces and studs, but continuing to ensure that we stock styles from across Asia that stand out on a brown-skinned woman, no matter what.
Since the inception of the brand, how has it been as an entrepreneur?
I think anyone starting from scratch on his or her own will say it’s challenging. What matters is your approach to it. I approached it systematically, instead of going all in and it has taken over a year to get to a point where we have a loyal group of Nik Nakers. Asking questions like, what apps are the best for editing? How can I create a system of inventory that works for me? How does targeted advertising work? How do I maintain multiple sources to ensure I’m never out of stock, and most importantly I have learned its ok to ask for support when I need it. At nearly 65 years, I am amazed at the resources available online. But it has forced me to understand how technology can work for you if you keep an open mind.
Your advice to entrepreneurs from various age groups?
Plan, experiment and then start small. Be ok with the setbacks. Many of your blockages to a better life are in your mind. I believe that at any age, entrepreneurship is going to be scary. But if you envision a life for yourself that is different, you have to move past what makes you scared. I started with purchasing 25 pieces and have kept going from there.
Last year was very difficult, what did you do to sustain?
Last year was my first year and, quite a successful one for me, for which I am thankful when I look at everything it has taken from others. It gave me the time to plan as the world stopped, it also allowed me to draw more inspiration and support from my family as they were always with me. We saw more women coming online to buy things for themselves. Aside from a few slow months, I managed to circumvent sourcing issues by getting down lesser stocks more frequently and delivering myself when we had no access to couriers.
Nik Nak Owner – Nirukshi de Lanerolle
In a recent interview, you said, this venture was post-retirement, what do you have to say to those approaching retirement?
Approach it slowly and be kind to yourself. Everything you have worked for has now come to fruition. It may be exactly liked you planned it or it may take a more challenging turn. Embrace it, because retirement is not the end of your life. It is a time when you can live your life fully on your terms. Although I struggle in this area, a healthy body is as important for a healthy mind. So I encourage anyone reading this to prioritize that aspect as well.
Where do you see Nik Nak in a few months and when do you hope to market the brand?
I see Nik Nak doing exactly what it has been doing, giving brown-skinned women access to daring jewellery and space to showcase that side of themselves. We will continue to source exceptional pieces and show our ‘fam’ the many ways in which they can elevate their look. A strong independent woman should be able to wear whatever she wants no matter how outside the box it is. And at Nik Nak we will always create a space for women like us to do just that!
By Mena Kumar