Vinay Soudakar made his first piece of jewellery at 14-years-old in his grandfather’s workshop.
Coming from a family of jewellers (fi ve generations and 30 years in the UK jewellery retail market) Vinay was destined to follow the family business from a young age.
Manja has only been trading 18 months, but Vinay’s positive attitude has led the business to soar in a short space of time. He says: “We have faced many hardships, but we have also had many achievements. In the past year Manja has participated in three trade shows, it has expanded its distribution network by signing with new agents, and added to its portfolio of stockists.”
In October last year Manja opened its first international account with a store on a French island. “Surprisingly, we never advertised or participated to any trade fairs in that region, but its manager saw our designs online while browsing the IJL website and placed a substantial order. Since the first delivery, that store placed stock orders twice and Manja jewellery has been selling very well for them,” Vinay explains.
Although the UK will remain the British brand’s prime market, this experience has taught Vinay that Manja designs sell well in other territories and there is room for international growth.
On top of launching internationally this year, Manja also partnered with some online platforms to retail a small selection of products directly to the end customers. “These initiatives have been very rewarding,” Vinay explains. “Achievements show you the paths your business needs to take, but failures teach you the best lessons. Our recent experiences have helped us redefine our strategy. In the next 12 months we will have our own online retail platform, and we will explore further international opportunities.”
When he’s not sipping coffees at the National Portrait Gallery’s Portrait restaurant (the location for this brilliant Hot 100 shot), Vinay spends time with his son — his ultimate source of pride. “When you start a business, it is a source of pride and joy, but when you create life, it’s just magical,” Vinay beams.