Careers & Education

Indulge in Peace-is of Bianca

Sunday, October 20, 2013    

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LUXURY, blended with the tones and tinges of earth, combine to form the spirit and soul of Peace-is of Bianca, the lifestyle collection by designer Bianca Bartley.

For the JN Small Business Loans client, creating and crafting jewellery and designing furniture as well as décor is not just business; instead, each item of handcrafted and custom-designed jewellery is a little droplet of her reality, her Om, the Hindu concept, which captures the essence of her spiritual consciousness.

"Peace-is means so many different things. It's pieces of me, pieces of other designers who work along me; but it's not entirely about me, it's about the brand that I am trying to build. Just like what Martha Stewart has, I want a brand that is multifaceted," Bartley said.

She has been in business for a few years now; however, already her work has been acclaimed by many local and regional authorities in fashion, including the Observer, which recently awarded the young entrepreneur Jewellery Designer of the Year at the Style Awards.

Bartley's often improvised pieces reflect a natural, yet sophisticated sense of beauty and fashion.

"I work with a lot of brass, because it's all about fashion and a lot of people don't want to spend a tonne of money on jewellery," she explained.

Noting that although, over time, brass will tarnish, she said there are ways of treating the metal to maintain its lustre. She recently invested in a new anti-tarnish coat to preserve the metal's initial sheen.

However, the media she works with in her home studio in St Andrew isn't limited to brass. Bartley also has an affinity for gold, platinum and sterling silver and offers rhodium plating, white gold, yellow gold and rose-gold plating.

"We do basically anything our collectors want," she said. "If someone wants a watch designed, we can do it; or, if someone wants a wedding ring, we can do it. We also do a lot of repairs and jewellery reconstruction where we redesign and sometimes combine existing pieces that our collectors own; but, we also create pieces that suit the taste of both men and women; and we have a whole range of styles."

In the Corporate Area, her handcrafted jewellery is on display at Swiss Stores and at KERRY Manwomanhome. The Boutique Resort, Rockhouse Hotel and Spa located on Negril's West End in Westmoreland, is the island's third exclusive retailer of Peace-is of Bianca.

"I also have international collectors, people from as far as Belgium and Africa, who tend to find us on Facebook. Currently, I'm working on strengthening my regional and international client base," she revealed.

Bartley discovered her talent for jewellery designing in the same way many entrepreneurs discover their skill for enterprise -- during a moment of crisis. She was faced with a little problem which many young women may have experienced at some stage in their lives -- she was getting dressed for a party and she realised she had no earrings to accessorise her outfit.

"I twined up some copper I found, and put it in my ears; and I went to the party. People just came up to me to express how much they loved my earrings," she said, noting that endorsements even came from popular Jamaican jewellery designers.

Although her pieces are often praised by customers and her peers, business has not always been smooth sailing for the St Andrew High School graduate.

"I remember last year, it was coming on to Christmas and I was coming out of the slow period and recovering from a big whop at Customs. I needed to restock and I could not get funding from my bank; and I really don't like to approach friends and family for assistance," she said.

The loan officer at a commercial bank recommended that she try JN Small Business Loans Limited (JNSBL).

"JNSBL was my saviour," Bartley declared. "I took a chance and I went to them. I got the loan without any hassle, and I was able to see myself through the Christmas season. And, it was such a learning process. Now I understand how I will allocate funds with the next loan I receive."

The loan funds allowed Bartley to meet her demands and business increased.

"Her products are extremely creative and her business model is sound," commented Philip Bernard, general manager, JNSBL. "Her enterprise represents the type of vision and commitment to quality that we want to see in manufacturing; therefore, we did not hesitate to provide her with the loan funds to meet her business needs."

Capitalising on the business' growth, Peace-is of Bianca recently previewed its own line of carefully handcrafted local hardwood furniture as part of its collection. A Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship Caribbean inductee, Bartley used the skills gained through the centre's training and networking opportunities to forge partnerships with local wood crafters and artisans, a union which has given birth to the collection she aptly calls OM. The line includes coffee tables, poetic wall polyptychs, trays and serving platters which are multifunctional.

"It's all made in Jamaica by local craftsmen. It's a little twist on Caribbean chic, which I think is a little bit more luxe with the treatments and finishes employed, and a little bit more contemporary.

"Like our jewellery we focus on function and look at the needs of today's modern family from a holistic point of view," she said. "It's about enlightening people to something different. I'm not selling furniture, I'm selling a lifestyle."

The new collection will be launched later this year and pieces are already on show at Spaces.

Peace-is of Bianca employs only its owner on a full time basis currently; however, it provides employment for several people on a contractual basis, a figure which has grown steadily with the launch of Bartley's new furniture collection.

"In another five years I hope to establish retail stores and a strong presence in the Caribbean and Latin America and elsewhere," she said.

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