Columbian design

Leaving a successful banking career, Founder and Designer Martha Lizarazo, decided to follow her childhood passion and launch the successful Caliz London...

model in bright chunky jewellery earrings rings and bracelets

model with earrings necklace and bracelet When did you start up and why? I started my business in 2014 when I decided to give up my corporate banking career to do something more creative and meaningful – my true passion! For as long as I remember I have always loved fashion design. During my childhood, I designed my own earrings made from telephone wire and sold them to my school friends for pocket money. I would also design and make jewellery for my work colleagues, family and friends. Designing and creating is something that is an innate part of me and I always knew that I would eventually pursue this path.

What prompted you to launch the business? When I realised that by designing and producing pieces made from my country's unique and eco-friendly natural materials, I could have a positive impact on both the environment and also the local communities in Colombia. Also, having lived in London for many years, I wanted to combine the fashion of South America with British trends by creating designs that fuse the two together and reflect both the culture and heritage of my country as well as the style and influences of London.

What challenges have you overcome since the company's launch? When I started my business ethical and sustainable products were a trend that was just taking off, so we had to open up public perception on ethical and sustainable jewellery by creating fashionable designs with great quality and finishes, which gradually my customers embraced. Today more and more clients are demanding products that are good for our planet. Tell us about your product offering. Our collections introduce a material rarely seen in UK market, but which has been used for centuries in traditional South American jewellery making. I use vegetable ivory as the main material for my designs, a seed produced naturally by the Phytelephas Macrocarpa palm tree from the tropical rainforest of Colombia. Our collections include handmade necklaces, pendant necklaces, earrings, bracelets, keyrings, and broaches, all handcrafted from this amazing natural seed.

What are your most popular products? Customers love our statement pieces because they are extremely light to wear and bold in design, whilst our tactile material is also very appealing. They also love the seed's brown skin around the edges and the unique and beautiful patterns or grains that come to life once the seed is dyed in different colours. It is natural beauty all round.

model in chunk pink toned jewellery earring and necklace sit with different bracelet Have any styles taken you by surprise with their popularity? Yes, we have some timeless designs of necklaces and earrings that we created when we started almost 10 years ago that we still bring into our new collections in different colours and combinations, because our customers keep asking for them.

How do you keep your designs fresh and current? Do you follow trends? In the past I'd follow some colour trends, but today, having grown and evolved as a designer as I have become more aware of the infinite beauty around me, my designs are coming from the beauty that I witness in nature – from the sky, the sun and the sea, from flowers, trees and the natural colours that each seasonal change brings. I also love attending fashion shows, catwalks and exhibitions to find that inspiration and ideas.

What sets you apart from your competitors? We create pieces with the main purpose of bringing joy to people, to make them feel happy, whole and proud. My designs are the reflection of how I am feeling in the present moment and I express myself through them. I also listen to what our customers want as they are an important part of my designing journey. I love to create statement pieces, but some of our customers who love our ecofriendly concept and natural material prefer designs in more standard sizes, so we have created sizes for everyone. Lastly, customer service for me is everything, we always focus on giving our customers the best service experience in person, over the phone or online.

How are you finding the current climate in the UK? Is it affecting business? Customers are being more careful with their spending but are still looking for products that are unique and have the feel good factor. They have increasing ethical and environmental interests. I find that they also now like to share the story about the piece they are wearing, so want to know the story behind it, such as where it was made, how the materials were sourced, what skills were used in its creation and what inspired the designer. I have always felt that challenging economic times like this are a great opportunity for businesses to reinvent themselves and provide the products that their customers really want.

How do you view the future of independent retail? I visualise a future that is going to be heavily influenced by ethical fashion, products that are good for the environment and the local communities, as well as being handmade, artisanal and with a beautiful story behind them. And even though online shopping has increased in recent years and since the pandemic, I believe many customers still want face-to-face interaction when shopping, so there will always be a place for retail shops.

Are you active on social media? How is this important for the business? Yes, social media is taking over the world and we need to move forward with technology and keep connected to our customers through all the avenues available right now.

Do you have any advice for new businesses starting out in the world of gifts? Do what you love and be passionate about it, find your product, your market and above all be original and unique, in everything, design, presentation and selling. I believe that the purpose of life is to do what you love, and if you follow that path, fulfilment and success will follow.

What can we expect in the future from the company? My aim is to continue providing high quality craftsmanship and innovative designs, truly unique pieces with heart and soul. We will continue working with ethical and sustainable materials that are kind to our planet, but also beautiful and fashionable.
CALIZ LONDON 07709 429 017 |

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