Apprenticed by Jimmy Choo and trained by Tiffany & Co, University of Kent alumna, Durrah Khalil established her own international jewellery brand, Durrah Jewelry following her BA in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management.
Describe your business
A Jimmy Choo and Tiffany & Co alumna, I designed my first collection of jewellery in 2013. Known for my signature four metal colours and magnetic clasps, Durrah Jewelry features timeless pieces of hand-finished jewellery for the globally transcendent in mind. Founded in London, Durrah Jewelry reflects my own personal definition of success, which is to give back meaningfully. I am a driven entrepreneur and passionate designer who combines fashion with philanthropy. I am currently achieving this by funding the education of teenage girls in Nanyuki, Kenya.
Do you compete in the global market place?
At present we operate in North America and the UK. But we plan to expand internationally.
How is Durrah Jewelry supporting the ambitions of young Kenyan women?
Durrah Jewelry gives back by offering young ladies the gift of education to make their dreams a reality. At present, we are funding the education of teenage girls in Nanyuki, Kenya through high school. I have always been keen to give back wherever I can and through the years I have realised that I prefer to have a more direct approach to those who are less fortunate. The project came about after I, fortunately, came across someone who works directly with teenage girls in Nanyuki and I immediately jumped on this opportunity.
Where do you see your organisation in the next five years?
In the next five years, I would like to see growth in both our online and offline market share. My ultimate goal is to be the leading jewellery brand that adorns with a conscience. Having an ethical business is important to me, as I like to share my success by giving back.
Why did you choose to work in this industry?
I choose to work in this industry because of the relationships I am able to build with my clients. I love being part of their milestones. Seeing my pieces on my clients also gives me an overwhelming sense of excitement.
How did you develop the skills necessary to run your business?
The BA in Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management gave me the perfect foundation to tackle the most important aspect of the business which is forming relationships with people. I also gained first-hand experience at Jimmy Choo when I was just fifteen during a summer internship. Jimmy taught me the importance of humility and to always help other people. At the same time, I learned the secrets of running a business, including the stresses and successes. I was also lucky enough to work alongside Beatrix Ong who was the Creative Director of the company at the time and went on to launch her own very successful line of shoes.
I then started at Tiffany & Co. as a seasonal sales associate, the initial three-month period turned into almost four years as I kept getting promoted and fell in love with the jewellery and brand. At Tiffany & Co., I developed and sharpened my customer relations skills. I loved managing the sales team and felt their successes were my successes. In terms of technical knowledge, I completed my Diamond Grading and Jewellery Design diploma at the prestigious GIA in London.
Whom do you seek advice from when making business decisions?
I seek business advice from my partner who is also my mentor. He is an investment banker and is my beacon of light at present.
Describe your management style
I am definitely a ‘Diplomat’ who values interpersonal harmony. I am the social glue that keeps my team together and I develop personal bonds with my employees. I resolve conflicts peacefully and try to avoid them in the first place. I love to put people in positions to succeed and leverage their strengths.
How has what you learned on your KBS programme fed into your business today?
What I learned on my KBS programme has definitely given me the armor to face all the different challenges and successes I have experienced in my career. I strongly advocate education and feel that this is an important foundation, regardless of where you would like to go in life. It is for this exact reason that I sponsor young ladies in Nanyuki, Kenya to complete their education. I was lucky enough to receive a wonderful education and feel it is my duty to give others the opportunity to live their dreams as extensively as I have been able to.
Many thanks to Durrah for sharing her views. Durrah studied on a Kent Business School undergraduate programme. Find out more about our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, including the MSc Human Resource Management.