Payal Shah, Founder of L’Dezen and Psylish, Shares Her Jewellery Story
October 06, 2023
As the founder of L’Dezen and Psylish jewellery brands, Payal Shah understands the hustle to mature an idea to fruition. In her early 20s, the Hong Konger traded a career in architecture and furniture design for a vocation involving artistry in fine jewellery, creating one-of-a-kind jewellery and everyday pieces in her two ventures.
Opening pre-eminent brand L’Dezen 14 years ago and Psylish in 2019, Payal shares a passion for jewels and wearable art in line with her family’s business as diamond merchants, both long-time Hong Kong residents hailing from India and cutting it in the industry in the city.
Uncovering her entrepreneurship battle in Hong Kong, Payal joined The Beat Asia in an intimate chat to cover a decade and a half operating L’Dezen, a brand that has served the jewellery needs of Rihanna, Chrissy Teigen, Kesha, and Halle Berry, the growth of Psylish, highlighting its efforts in modernising the jewellery trade, and how AI is empowering a new phase of her business growth in Hong Kong.
On growing up around diamonds and growing a love for jewellery
I am from a diamond family. My father founded a diamond company in Hong Kong, and my mother joined him from India. In high school, I had a pull towards design technology, math, and business. [When] deciding what to study in university, [I realised that] architecture would merge all my interests together.
After graduating from the University of Westminster in London, I worked with a hospitality firm for a year in Hong Kong in furniture design. Buildings are beautiful, but I preferred designing smaller-scaled products. One time, while touring a jewellery show in Hong Kong with my parents, I was noticed by a Singaporean company who liked a pair of earrings I was wearing. I had designed jewellery in my free time, with diamonds rewarded to me for helping my parents at work.
I was pitched to create a capsule collection of 50 pieces for the company. I was asked to intern with them and represent them at a trade show in Vegas. This led me to quit my job at the architecture company to learn how the jewellery industry operated, from product creation to end user. A year passed in this role, and in mid-2011, I decided to start my own collection under L’Dezen.
On peacocking in the jewellery trade and creating unique brand L’Dezen
There are many Indians and women [operating] in the jewellery trade, but not necessarily as founders or designers of brands. My job, with creating L’Dezen, was to change that narrative. You weren't seeing a lot of 22-year-olds starting their own business.
I didn't want to do the traditional route of wholesale with my jewellery. I had to find my unique ways as part of the newer generation to elevate and modernise my creation. At industry trade shows, I designed elegant and extravagant booth designs that would catch attention from the media, once landing me on the front page of CNN.
We were a pioneer in the industry for using sliced diamonds, which come with a high labour cost, but ensure each stone has its own unique facet and value. Our marketing and designs are more tongue-and-cheek, humorous, and educational.
On bringing her Hong Kong brands internationally and catching celebrity eyes
We began launching product placements in 2013, before it was ever a thing. At a trade show once in New York, I was tuning into American Idol, and I caught Sharone Osbourne wearing a pair of my earrings. I was so shocked! After that, we invested in the Los Angeles network to place our products on Lady Gaga, Sofia Vergara, [Jennifer Lopez], and more. We became Hollywood’s favourite new designer.
Typically, in Hong Kong, international brands come here and Hong Kong buys. It's very rare that a Hong Kong brand goes international and then international buys. We were able to create an amazing clientele here and attract people from all around the world to find our product.
On creating Psylish, an alternative direction with daily jewellery and e-commerce
Just prior to the pandemic in 2019, we launched Psylish, a brand [that had been] in the works for a while, but [the launch was] expedited during COVID-19 to fill a need for everyday fine jewellery that was easy to purchase online.
With Psylish, we create jewellery that we think people are looking for daily, whether it's simple layered necklaces, layered earrings, stackable bracelets, or fun pieces that you don't have to think too much into when purchasing in this price bracket.
Psylish was the brainchild of a whole different demographic, delving into e-commerce and exploring a different clientele and direction compared to the business of L’Dezen in the past 10 years. They’re both under the same family. One’s more outdoors and the other is more preppy.
On the power of jewellery for the individual and self-love
Jewellery is very personal. It can say a lot and accessorise [your body], but it can also be a little add-on. It can take away a certain area you don't want to drive attention to, so jewellery is playful and has so many ways of wearing it.
When it comes to styling yourself or wearing jewellery, I believe that even when you dress for an impression from others, you're doing it for yourself. You like feeling confident when you know that you dress confidently. It's a form of validation.
There is a satisfaction of getting a compliment on a night out, saying that you look beautiful, and someone's noticed the way you've done your hair, a nice outfit that you've worn, or a piece of jewellery that you are rocking.
On fusing Web3 technology with jewellery creation and curation
Tech has always been an avenue for me to peacock in bringing big marketing ideas [with L’Dezen and Psylish] without putting in the massive marketing budgets that big luxury brands have.
As Web3 dominates Hong Kong in the 2020s during the pandemic, I began to incorporate augmented reality on both of our websites to allow customers online to try on each piece virtually in our collection.
I am now working with a startup that is looking to create many versions of a simple sketch to envision what one-of-a-kind piece you desire, and we will give you variants based on your input.
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