10 Minutes With…Payal Shah, Founder of L’ Dezen Jewellery
An interview with Payal Shah, Founder & Designer of L’ Dezen Jewellery
Payal Shah | Image courtesy of Payal Shah
Michelle Obama wearing Lˊ Dezen By Payal Shah
1) Can you tell us about yourself?
I was born in Mumbai and moved to Hong Kong when I was three months old. I am a second generation as my parents moved here for work. I went to high school in Hong Kong and have a BA in Architecture Design from the University of Westminster in London. I also have a Diploma in Interior Design form Inchbald, London. Jewellery was something I was passionate about and taught myself. I used to create custom pieces for myself as my parents use to deal in diamonds and precious stones. I would go to their office and play around and then get the pieces made for myself to wear. Fast forward a few years—with an exciting journey, filled with travels and various experiences—to evolve from what started as a personal passion of mine to what is now an almost-decade-old jewellery brand.
L’ Dezen by Payal Shah is a fine jewellery brand with one-of-a-kind pieces sold all over the world. Additionally, I have dabbled into a few other enterprises, invested in a few start-ups, and I constantly keep adding some side hustles.
As a brand you’re a storyteller—that is one of my most favourite things about the business: branding and communications. I could talk about this topic for days! —Payal Shah, Founder & Designer of L’ Dezen
Rihanna wearing Lˊ Dezen By Payal Shah
2) How did you get into jewellery?
I use to design pieces for myself all the time. There was a jewellery company based out of Singapore that used to admire the way I designed them and proposed I do a capsule collection for them. I ended up doing a collection of 40-50 styles and they took these pieces and me to Las Vegas for one of the biggest jewellery trade shows. I saw how the customers were reacting to my piece and it really boosted my confidence in my designs. I continued working with the company in collaboration for a few more months and eventually decided I was going to do it myself.
I started small, with an investor on board, and started designing my collection. I wanted to explore different markets, so I would do the jewellery trade shows all around the world. By the second to third year into my business, I did about 30 trade shows that year and really thought about what market I wanted to work with. E-commerce for fine jewellery wasn’t a huge thing in 2013-2015 so the only way people would buy was physically, or if prominent retailers would sell your brand. What started as a passion project was eventually turning into a growing business. The distinctiveness of my designs and the materials I used such as slice diamonds really was a niche of its own so my pieces were quite recognisable if you saw them. I started creating different collections with different design aesthetics but using the same materials.
Chrissy Teigen wearing Lˊ Dezen By Payal Shah
3) Could you tell us about your brand, L’ Dezen? What’s your story?
L’ Dezen by Payal Shah literally translates to The Design by Payal Shah. The idea was to create one-of-a-kind designs that were both bold and delicate—whilst being comfortably lightweight and exclusive in design. I was always drawn to the creative and telling a story through an expressive form—and jewellery just happened to be the medium. As a brand you’re a storyteller—that is one of my most favourite things about the business: branding and communications. I could talk about this topic for days! I am so passionate about it! Our central focus is on creating pieces that have wearable luxury. The great thing about jewellery is that the overall look comes from how the wearer styles it. It’s not uncommon to receive images of the same jewellery piece, worn by three totally different women—it is this versatility that’s been a real success factor in the brand’s journey.
Katy Perry wearing Lˊ Dezen By Payal Shah
4) You’ve worked with so many Hollywood celebrities—amazing! Who have you worked with and how have you felt about it?
I have worked with quite a few artists! It’s hard to list them all but you can see them all featured on our social media pages and website. Some of the standouts have to be Michelle Obama, Rihanna, J-Lo, Nick Jonas, Chrissy Tiegen, and a few more.
The first celebrity I saw my earrings on was Sharon Osborne when she used to host America’s Got Talent. My pieces are so distinctive, I remember watching the show and thinking ‘WOW—NO WAY’ and calling up the retailer that was carrying them. The retailer explained how her stylist had come in and really loved the earrings for Sharon. It was a day I’ll never forget because it gave my brand and myself a whole different kind of boost and poise.
Of course, peer recognition is very satisfying. While the brand is my name, I, by default, automatically collect all the praise, but the truth is the brand has eclipsed me. It is because of an amazing amount of people that what we do happens and continues to expand; without them, the L’ Dezen by Payal Shah brand would be non-existent. The biggest buzz comes from when a client contacts us and says that she receives so many compliments and the empowerment she feels when she wears one of my creations.
Nick Jonas wearing Lˊ Dezen By Payal Shah
5) Could you tell us about your latest collection?
My two latest collections are Starry Eyed and Guns N’ Roses. Starry eyed has delicate rose cut diamonds framed into gorgeous shapes and give a feminine finish with its setting. Guns N’ Roses is very rock chic but with a luxurious twist. We are doing bold bracelets with fancy shape diamonds as well as bold blue diamond and sapphire studs.
Another new venture I have is Psylish.com—a new sister brand I launched in June 2020. It’s a ready-to-wear, classic yet trendy diamond jewellery brand. These are quick and easy buys where we have promised to match manufacture to online markups, which means the pieces are extremely affordable. We see that there is a demand for this given that people are careful with their spending but want to still indulge in luxury. The site has over 200-300 styles that clients can stack, layer, or buy even as gift items!
While the brand is my name, I, by default, automatically collect all the praise, but the truth is the brand has eclipsed me. It is because of an amazing amount of people that what we do happens and continues to expand; without them, the L’ Dezen by Payal Shah brand would be non-existent. The biggest buzz comes from when a client contacts us and says that she receives so many compliments and the empowerment she feels when she wears one of my creations. —Payal Shah, Founder & Designer of L’ Dezen
L’ Dezen x PSYLISH
6) Where do you get your inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere. I’m inspired by learning, by experiencing, and by conversations. I’m inspired by my travels; whether it is the afternoon sunset against the Hong Kong skyline, the Turkish dusk with its soft light blue shades, or rich Indian architecture—I’m captured by life’s beauties all around! I also take inspiration from business people that are successful in both their field but also in the people game: the way they develop, sustain and enrich their relationship to achieve business success and creativity.
7) Favourite childhood memory?
I have so many favorite childhood memories growing up in Hong Kong. Whether it’s rewarding myself to this amazing Cheung Fan stall in Tsim Sha Tsui East or trying out different classes at YMCA which my mother would enroll me at. Another one I love is when there was a Typhoon 8-10 or Black Rainstorm during school days and you would get the day off by default. I also remember getting pocket money by helping out at my parent’s office growing up. A moment I am very proud of is when I made my father’s business logo on “Paint” when I was about 13—he still has it as his logo today!
Image courtesy of Payal Shah
8) How do you spend your weekends?
A day in the life in the weekend of Payal Shah is definitely busy but never boring! If I am travelling for work, a lot of my pop ups are over the weekend. But when I am in Hong Kong, I mix my weekends with some downtime, some physical activity, and I will arrange to meet some friends for drinks and dinner in the evenings and spend quality time with them. I sometimes like to catch up on shows and podcasts too. Sundays are for family. We make sure to spend Sundays together by doing at least one meal together. Sundays are great for getting out to the beach or a nice hike if the weather permits!
9) What’s a jewellery trend to look out for?
The jewellery trend I am getting on right now, which will integrate on our site soon, is augmented reality to “try on” jewellery. I am currently working with a developer and company based out of India that allows you to try the piece of jewellery you are considering straight away using your phone camera. It’s kind of like an Instagram filter with the piece you are looking to try—whether it is an earring, necklace, ring, or bracelet. This will enhance the customer service experience on our online sites tremendously, and given the way 2020 is going, it’s all about making customer service as best as possible online!
PSYLISH.com—L’ Dezen’s sister brand
10) How did you find growing up in Hong Kong?
I always say growing up in Hong Kong has been such a privilege. Firstly, the safety of this city really allows you to spread your wings. Being a hub for both finance and culture already puts you in a state of being quite all-rounded. I loved growing up here with so much inspiration in the architecture and the different nationalities I got to interact with. I love the city hustle has and its many activities you to indulge in.