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Watch / Jewellery

Combine glamour with manufacturing know-how

by Ella Lee

Phoebe Chung, business development manager, Oro Design Limited, The EganaGoldpfeil Group

Turning a passion for jewellery into a career

Some people have found a way to take their love for jewellery to a new level. They do not just buy and wear jewellery, but also develop careers out of them.

Phoebe Chung, business development manager of Oro Design Limited which is part of the EganaGoldpfeil Group, says that she gets real satisfaction from her work and could hardly imagine a better job.

"The best thing is to see our products get a good response and become best sellers," says Ms Chung, whose role as project leader is to turn design concepts into products for sale. On average, the development cycle for new items is from four to six weeks. It begins with a briefing from the design team in Germany and then includes discussions with the local production team about the feasibility of producing the design in the factory.

Once the manufacturing methods have been confirmed, the collection goes into production." It is amazing. We can wear the samples for testing of quality as well as personal enjoyment," Ms Chung says.

Nowadays, her job is not only concerned with product design and development, but also the manufacturing process. With 10 years of production knowledge and hands-on experience, it becomes easier for her to anticipate possible problems and to give presentations to customers. Initially, she could not claim to have any specific technical or commercial skills. In fact, her degree was in psychology but she had a talent for drawing and soon acquired a detailed knowledge of the manufacturing process and costing, simply by being involved in the day-to-day operations.

Trendsetting

Formal training courses at local institutes gave Ms Chung more technical knowledge and, after about six years, she was ready for a move into the area of branded jewellery. Ms Chung therefore learned this side of the trade by working for the local buying office of a US company before joining EganaGoldpfeil in 2004. Her current team consists of nine members who have responsibilities for different brands.

She says that design and quality rather than price are the main factors when competing to sell branded jewellery. As a result, the company provides training in production development and gives the relevant staff wide exposure to the use of different materials, such as metal, glass, rubber and wood. More importantly, EganaGoldpfeil, due to its global market penetration, provides a platform for collaboration between the East and the West, which allows her to become an expert in jewellery design and market trends.

Ms Chung explains that it is of vital importance to be a trendsetter than a market follower In EganaGoldpfeil, innovation is the key, but she admits it is not always easy even for professional designers to keep coming up with new ideas. It helps though to always remain open to outside influences and to visit overseas trade fairs to spot fashion trends and find inspiration.

Ms Chung also emphasises that in product development, it is necessary to maintain a balance between creativity and practicality. Items must look good, but also be functional and comfortable to wear. The art of balance as such is highly dependent on experience, production knowledge, and creativity.

Into the business

Ideally, anyone hoping to get into jewellery development should have a business degree and related technical knowledge. "They should also have a good fashion sense and be innovative, hardworking and well organised," says Ms Chung. "Strong communication skills are needed to coordinate with customers and different departments in Hong Kong, China and other overseas countries such as Germany."

EganaGoldpfeil offers on-the-job training in aspects of design and assessing the quality of a finished product. This also entails spending time in the mainland factory to learn about the full manufacturing process.

"We expect recruits to be open to new challenge and to have the passion and commitment to learn and find ways to solve any problems they may encounter, " Ms Chung says. "In today's global market, international exposure is also essential to succeed in the fashion jewellery industry."

A touch of gold

  • A career in fashion jewellery is well suited to the style-conscious
  • Design and quality are important factors in jewellery sales
  • Be the trendsetter not the market follower
  • Good fashion sense, a creative mind, an appetite for hard work and good communication skills are needed for a career in the jewellery business


 

Taken from Career Times 14 July 2006

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