Onyinye Ubah

In the beginning, whenever I introduced myself and my brand, most of people would laugh and ask me to confess that I buy my pieces from abroad and just label my brand name on it. It was a struggle.  Or some others would send their plastic or beaded jewellery to me for me to fix which I graciously turned down. The third group was more interested in picking my brain but not patronising. Even as at late last year when hoodlums vandalised our work studio during the curfew imposed for End SARS protest, I almost gave up. Somehow, I kept on pushing and that was how we were able to weather the storm till we got to where we are. It’s been 10 years now.

Ion jewellery came up after I went in pursuit of learning the skill of fabricating metal jewellery pieces. I had picked up Beading and wire wrapping as a skill but became bored with it at a point and wanted a bigger challenge. I used to be curious on how metal jewellery was made and after satisfying that curiosity, I put the knowledge into action.

When I realised I was made for the jewellery world can be broken down to two different times because they don’t go hand in hand. First, I made for jewellery but 4 years into the business, I began considering going back to my first love in skill, which was cooking. I felt Nigerians already accepted this field. Gold making, on the other hand, was not a thing but then I found training and the love passing down the knowledge quite inspiring. The fact that most my students were actually making the most out of it made me realise this is what I’m made for. This made me gain confidence in my own brand as well. As for contemplating on going back after the EndSars saga, I was amazed at the kind words, reviews and support I received during that period. I had people message me, telling me how I am the reason they are doing what they are doing or inspire them. Then, I realised I was in trouble. A good trouble, though. I can’t walk away again. There is no going back. I have to choice than to make this work.

Initially, gender was a problem. Right now, it’s not a problem anymore but initially most people found it hard to trust my expertise because we (including me) are used to Male goldsmiths. I once had some lady call to make an inquiry about a product and when she finally came in for consultation, she told me she was shocked to find out I was the actually a goldsmith. She said she assumed I was just the goldsmith’s personal assistant when we spoke on the phone.

Gold making is not for the weak. It’s for the strong. You need to be in love with this path. You need to have genuine passion for it. If you in it for fast money, you are on the wrong path. It demands passion, talent, consistency and support from family. You need all four to stay most especially support. I’ve had students that had the first three and fell by the way side because they lacked the right support. Maybe not family support in terms of blood relation. Though I had family support; but support could be in form of friends that believe in you.

Hopefully, I dream of running a standard international training facility for upcoming goldsmiths and personal Ion Jewellery being a house hold name amongst discerning women worldwide.

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