Urvi Shah’s journey into her brand Poetic Trends began years before she was aware of it. Her pieces are carefully designed, refurbished and assembled antique pendants and ornaments from across Africa that were collected by her grandfather and her father over many years. Upon discovering her father’s would be modern day ‘treasure chest’, Urvi began using the ornaments as décor until she turned them in statement jewellery pieces for the modern day women. A blending of old and new is what Poetic Trends is all about. Urvi stated “I guess I have been brought up in a way that I love vintage, eclectic and traditional pieces finding a way to transform them into contemporary and modern pieces.”
“I used to wear the pieces myself, the old vintage pieces and people used to ask about it so I decided to design and start selling.” Perhaps you may have seen the launch collection for Poetic Trends at the Zen Garden Fashion High Tea 2013? (see more here) That was Urvi’s first event and was presented particularly to gauge the market reception and feedback of her designs. Needless to say, it was a success and from there she has received wide exposure from Couture Africa Magazine to stocking with MOFTI. “I work full time because I don’t think that the fashion industry is strong enough to go into full time and give up a paying job. I need my Odds and Ends job to fund my poetic trends job to grow the brand. Fashion is expensive.”
Urvi Shah is creative in many more ways. Being an Indian Traditional Dancer, she also designed her own clothes such as her wedding and is now delving into designing again. Taking traditional attires from different African countries, Urvi translates them into a satin fabric modern interpretation for today.(see below) “I also love designing furniture. Odds and Ends is a family business and it is too close to my heart to leave it. I travel quite a bit to seek out antiques and this is how I also collect antique beads and pendants from the places we visit.”
Poetic Trends is a now a two pronged jewellery brand fueled by Urvi’s passion for both traditional vintage pieces and fun statement pieces for everyday. The collection for Zen Garden Fashion High Tea 2015 is designed by Urvi Shah locally and produced in India. The new collection is called the Butterfly Oasis created around beautifully transformed Agates collected in Thailand inspired by the butterfly. “These are pieces that you can wear on a white shirt to work and it will make a statement.”
Concerning the Kenya fashion industry and the market, Urvi noticed straight away that expatriates connected with her pieces almost immediately. For Urvi though, Poetic Trends is a brand in which she would like the Kenyan (local) market to connect with it rather than solely expatriates. “Expats are exposed to different African countries with their work so for them it is more sentimental but this is our East African culture and we don’t adorn it, which we should,” remarked Urvi.
“Copying is big here. I designed the rings and before I knew it, someone else had made the exact same ring and I thought…wow! that was fast. You learn slowly about these things.” Urvi suggested that perhaps the way to control the copying is to keep changing and growing the collections. For Urvi, her source of beads, ornaments and pendants have been collected for so many years that finding the same piece to copy would be difficult. “I can’t repeat the same piece even if tried,” she explained to us. For the antique pieces, Urvi also adds personal touches to personalize and differentiate her pieces. This also applies to the fabrics she uses which are designed and printed to her specifications. “I just explore, do it and move on,” she told us.
For Urvi, the fashion industry has scaled over the past ten years since she went to study abroad. “I feel that only a small percent buy and consume Kenyan pieces as most people are interested in Woolworths and China.” As a result, Urvi explained that despite the growing number of talented Kenyan designers, their focus is the western market as they are more appreciative and actually purchase. Poetic Trends is not a brand for the faint of heart. When Urvi wears her pieces, those around her are interested but retort to comments like “only you can pull it off” or “where would I wear that?”
Urvi believes that “the more the girls are getting educated and being open and figuring out who they are, they will start to own who they are and not be afraid to express themselves boldly.” Many girls are sheltered and do not want to experiment with wearing jewellery as a statement, she explained. The issue is not the expense, she further added, as many Kenyans are liquid enough to spend 15,000Ksh in Caramel Restaurant in one night but will shy away from spending half that amount on Kenyan products because it is not a status symbol. Herein lies the harsh reality.
Fortunately and unfortunately, Urvi has found that those that are most accepting of locally made products, especially those carrying a higher price tag, are expatriates, West Africa women or those women (Kenyan or otherwise) who work abroad with more exposure and appreciation.
Poetic Trends is something that Urvi Shah has been exploring for the past year and has seen its growth. Urvi also told us that her father is happy to see what she has done with the antique pieces he had been collecting. As a brand, Poetic Trends wants to cater for the Kenyan market and thereby bringing her pieces into the everyday wardrobe. Urvi has enjoyed the journey thus far and is looking forward to growing even more both in her jewellery design but also her clothing line.
“Creating the awareness and understanding of the work is important for people to be more sensitized and ready to accept Kenyan brands.”
See more of her work below. All images are subject to copyright (c) Poetic Trends Jewellery.