Interview with Guðbjörg Kristín Ingvarsdóttir, founder of Icelandic jewellery brand Aurum
Find out how Icelandic jewellery designer Guðbjörg Kristín Ingvarsdóttir grew her brand Aurum slowly over time – and why the hard work was worth it.
What’s your career background?
I studied goldsmithing at Copenhagen Technical College, completing my journeyman’s examination in 1993. I completed my master craftsman examination in goldsmithing at Reykjavík Technical College in 1994, subsequently returning to Copenhagen to study jewellery design at the Institute for Precious Metals.
From 1996 to 1999 I ran the jewellery workshop Au-Art in Copenhagen in collaboration with others. In 1999 I returned to Iceland and founded the design and jewellery brand Aurum by Gudbjörg
Where did the idea for Aurum come from?
I had a very strong vision on how I wanted to build my brand from the start. I felt I could show Icelanders something new. The jewellery I was creating was nothing like what was available here back then; I work very three-dimensionally with clear, feminine forms.
I want to make jewellery that women can come and afford to buy themselves. That they could pick a pair of nice earrings to go with a dress.
How did you move from idea to actual business?
After I finished school I spent some time in my workshop in Denmark to develop my ideas further. I was lucky to get a grant from Statens Kunstfound in Denmark so I could focus on my jewellery. I made my first collection in Denmark, which is still selling almost 20 years later.
When I moved back to Iceland and started my company I already had quite a few different products ready to sell and ideas developed.
What’s your brand’s USP?
The most important thing is working with unique, original concepts and reinterpreting our surroundings and inspirations. Being inspired by nature I try to evoke a feeling and an atmosphere with my designs.
We are a small, family-run company and we work with our clients on a personal level. We run the business itself in the most environmentally friendly way as possible. From the recycled and refined silver used in my jewellery to our packaging which is made of recycled mulberry paper.
Along with keeping our carbon footprint small we also support local charities by designing collections for various causes to support them long term.
Who’s your target audience?
My objective has always been to create timeless jewellery for all women of all ages, whether you like contemporary jewellery, big statement pieces or delicate subtle ones, I believe I have something for everyone.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
In the begining it was through my customers that like the jewellery and wore it, I would say that is the best advertising I could get. Later on we have been using social media to grow our international sales and to tell people about what‘s new and up and coming at Aurum by Gudbjörg.
What’s been your most successful marketing strategy?
Our marketing is based on values we have held in high regards from day one. We place empahsis on, among other things, creative product development and eco-friendly means of production. We keep those values in mind when it comes to marketing both here in Iceland and abroad.
When it comes to making marketing material we have always gone the extra mile and put an emphasis on working carefully in that regard and work with experienced professionals. With increasing competition and with the internet, a brand must stay alert and build its strengths in all areas.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
I would say the first five years of the business it took time to build up the company and grow the client base. In those early years I was the maker, running the store, selling and communicating with my clients online. It was a lot of work but all worth it.
And your proudest moment so far?
When I got nominated for Designer of The Year in Iceland for five of my collections. It was a huge moment of recognition after years of hard work.
Why is work so important to you?
I love being creative, it is like breathing for me. Developing and striving my brand forward always keeps me on my toes and makes me push myself a little further every day.
Who inspires you?
In my case it is not who but what inspires me and for me it is the Icelandic nature. I love spending time in my summer house in the West part of Iceland where the nature is so magical, I‘m near the sea and have mountains and a glacier close by. When no one is around it is so peaceful and allows me the space for the natural force of the creativity to take over.
How do you balance your business with your family?
First and foremost it is all about time management. I always make sure I keep a good balance between work, family time and my own time. As the company is family run I have a tremendous support network and a good team in my workshop which is also important.
What’s your advice for someone wanting to do something similar?
Believe in yourself, work hard, make original work and be patience. One of the most important elements of a designer‘s job is to set enough time aside for brainstorming and developing concepts. When you do that you are more likely to come out with an item or a collection you truly believe in as you‘ve put the work into the development.
You can find out more abut Aurum on their website.