Zoe | Vanessa
Franki Ryker, the brand, was born in Bali.
Using the inspiration of the tropics and of the corals in the 17,000 islands that make up the archipelago of Indonesia, (known as 'The Ring of Fire' due to it's half moon of volcanic atolls and islands), the first collection, 'Labyrinth,' came into being.
Vanessa initially started her tropical dream life in Bali, moving there from Sydney, in 2010. She left the UK at 24 years old and globe-trotted around the planet for 16 years, living and working in a handful of countries, she came to rest in Bali to build her dream and live happily contented on a tropical island. She built a guesthouse and then a tapas bar and her ultimate goal in 2014, a business that could mirror her fashion and design background, a 'silversmithing school,' to teach tourists and artists visiting the island, how to make silver jewellery.
She and her then business partner, called it Sanur Jewellery Studio.
Just 3 years later, in 2017, it was voted Ultimate Workshop in Bali, by NineMsN Honey Travel Australia and was included as one of the 'Growing Green' Businesses in Bali, by KLM Airlines being showcased in their in flight magazine, as well as having editorials in Now Bali and Bali & Beyond and growing its booking to over 120 students a month. Her dream had come true. But that was after so many mountains that had to be climbed, including contracting dengue twice herself and her business partner, another mosquito born disease called Chikungunya, that forced them to close and having their business closed on and off, due to volcanoes erupting and earthquakes, that stopped flights to and from the island for months at a time.
Bali, Indonesia, is home to 4 million Indonesians, but also home to 180,000 foreigners, who either have retired, or have businesses ranging from hotels and diving companies, to bars, restaurants and yoga studios. The culture of the island is a very difficult space and must be maneuvered carefully in order to do business smoothly there. It's a tropical paradise for those that visit, but it is a living, breathing, organism, that must be revered and honoured, by those who live there permanently.
The ceremonies of the island come first and foremost. There is a ceremony for everything and as such, business is secondary. Family is first. There are ceremonies for water, the rivers and the way it flows, the waterfalls and the dams. There are ceremonies for rocks and for pebbles, for metal items like cars and technical equipment, for wood, wood instruments, wood carving tools, for the air, for bubbles....the list is endless. It is something that is absolutely not available anywhere else in the world. It also houses some of the most incredible artists in the world, from weavers to painters, to ceramicists to mask carvers.
Business life can be frustrating at first for those who are used to the fast consumerist world of The West, but once you settle in, you go with the flow and you learn that there is always a tomorrow. It's about 'letting go.' This is the mantra that most yogis are taught when they come to the island to train in yoga studies, (for which Bali is renowned). If you have read Elizabeth Gilbert's 'Eat Pray Love,' then you will know.
In March of 2020, Vanessa came back to her home country, the UK, to see her mum for her birthday and look for wholesale customers and independent buyers for Franki designs, with her eye on shops in London and the South of England. She needed a break and to see family. There was unease in the air globally about the possible virus spread, a feeling that something was happening, but people were still moving around in Bali and flights were still in and out of the island and the UK. It was going to be a quick trip for 4 weeks. See some sights, visit friends in France and Spain and holiday through Italy for a week.
But the world had other plans.
In the middle of March, the world fell into lockdown. Locked out of Indonesia due to Covid-19, those weeks, stretched into months. With her jewellery school closed in April due to Government decree, but still paying staff and keeping their spirits alive by video chats and empowering them to not give up hope, she was out of a job herself and no home to call her own, now living back in the UK.
She had not seen her sister Zoe for many years, due to them both living their own personal lives and travelling constantly.... but entering back into the UK, they were reunited after 25 years and together they started to bounce ideas off each other.
Zoe, herself an entrepreneur, worked in management for many years then started her own business called Swap to Shop in 2007 (an online designer brand swapping site) and in the last 10 years, 'The Vintage Angel' that specialised in antique vintage jewellery. From 2005 to 2007 she also focused on building her dream home which featured on Grand Designs. She too has been through some extraordinary times, learning and growing and being in the public eye.
With the new found connection again, the girls spent the summer learning about each other. Zoe started selling some of the Franki designs to friends and it gathered interest. She hosted some Covid outdoor parties, when it was possible to do so and the brand started to take off.
It was then that Zoe suggested to raise some capital through Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform. Building a following was hard, but the platform allowed the pair to use it to get traction and their videos started to get views. From late July to mid August they set forth to take Kickstarter by storm and by the 20th of August, had been 107% funded in their campaign. No mean feat in a lockdown!
There was no looking back. Their videos started to go viral. They were building a following and it was empowering other women to start businesses in the lockdown too.
The two of them became a force together, creating daily videos, raps and chat shows (and still do), showcasing the designs, how they were made, talking about the issues faced during Covid for women and empowering their watchers. It was a sort of healing process, to learn about each other again and to forge a pact to go in the direction to push Franki to the world! They set forth to create and foster the birth of Franki Ryker Jewellery UK Ltd.
Together, they are now working to grow the brand and when it's possible, start the fun and exciting ambassadorship of stylists for their jewellery parties which will be launched in mid 2021, as well as being involved in social responsibilty projects in the local area in the near future.
The next stepping stone is a video shopping channel, where they can put their talents of ease in chat show style selling, to good use in front of the cameras and take themselves and the brand globally.
If you get a chance to check out their videos. You can find all of them on their Facebook page. Check them out here