“I realised how much waste we produce and the need to take action to address it,” says Sara Nazoor, Founder of ALKE, a sustainable jewellery brand.
ALKE is a jewellery label that creates limited edition pieces focused on waste management and made using recycled materials. Her discussion with the SLYCAN team highlighted the need for capacity building on waste management ifor entrepreneurs to learn and grow.
Following are excerpts of the interview:
What motivated you or inspired you to start this journey?
I used to make jewellery from the age of 13. I loved making little things like arts and crafts and I started ALKE as a regular jewellery label in 2014. I shifted focus to waste management and upcycled materials from 2019, because I realised how much waste we produce and how it all goes into garbage dumps and nothing is really done. I wanted to see what I could do to reduce at least one PET bottle.
Could you share some milestones with us?
When I started, there was a lot of self-learning; I didn’t find any place or any teachers to guide me, saying ‘this is what you have to do’. Self-learning, reading, researching, and looking at other people’s work, mainly from other countries, is how I learnt. In 2016 I applied for an international competition held by a university in Italy and I was placed third for my jewellery pieces – that’s one achievement I’m really proud of. I’m also proud of myself for keeping at it and pushing through during the hard times.
Do you have a team you work with?
It’s mostly me, but I have a good support system – my family and my husband who fill in for emergency deliveries and everything else. I’m able to have my workshop within my house and although people would usually complain about the hammering noises, my family puts up with it.
Working with entities like SLYCAN Trust and EthicalX, what can we offer that would benefit the entrepreneurial journey?
I think that, mainly for people like me, it would be capacity building. When I started my journey, it felt like a lonely place, but at the same time there were accelerating programmes that I joined, which helped to some extent. However, if there’s capacity building in the field of personal interest, that would be really great. If I had an opportunity to learn more about metals, or even a person to guide me, a person who has worked in this field, that would have been a source of strength, enabling me to grow and build my label and journey.
There are also other aspects to a business: finance management, marketing, and certain skills, like photography. When it comes to small business, it is tough to hire somebody with the income that we receive. If you have that skill set and have the ability to develop that skill set, that is needed for marketing, finance management, and the knowhow to write a proper business proposal. We learn through errors, but if somebody can help out with those things and the basics of how to get business registration done or how to open a bank account, all of that would really help.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with people who plan on starting this kind of adventure?
It’s never going to be easy; nothing is going to be easy. It’s a matter of keeping at it; taking it one day at a time and pushing through. If you look around, there are so many people and entities like EthicalX willing to help, guide, and support, so just don’t give up.
SLYCAN Trust is a non-profit think tank. It has been a registered legal entity in the form of a trust since 2016, and a guarantee limited company since 2019. The entities focus on the thematic areas of climate change, adaptation and resilience, sustainable development, environmental conservation and restoration, social justice, and animal welfare. SLYCAN Trust’s activities include legal and policy research, education and awareness creation, capacity building and training, and implementation of ground level action. SLYCAN Trust aims to facilitate and contribute to multi-stakeholder driven, inclusive and participatory actions for a sustainable and resilient future for all.