Designer and retailer Nina Dzhokhadze is revolutionising the jewellery industry through creative trade ideas
By: Smitha Sadanandan
Posted on: April 19, 2021
With international travel in jeopardy and intermittent lockdowns, the pandemic forced the luxury industry to explore new ways of reaching customers. London-based digital jewellery showroom Connect Agency too reflected on the new normal and drew up a plan to blend the physical and digital worlds – it involved hassle-free jewellery previews and wholesale ‘digital buying’ at the click of a button. The platform connects brands with global stockists and retail stores in the US, Middle East and Eastern Europe, offering them a “wider perspective,” while working closely with the designers.
The platform, founded by Nina Dzhokhadze, shaped up last year and grew from strength-to-strength during the pandemic. She leverages on her experience in the jewellery and fashion industry – garnered over 15 years in London – to promote her tribe at the Connect Agency. Ms. Dzhokhadze is also the co-founder of quirky, fine jewellery brand NeverNoT, along with her friend Natia Chkhartishvili, who is based in Georgia.
Nina Dzhokhadze of Connect Agency
We are all about colour, wearability, statement and chunky pieces – fine jewellery that you are guaranteed to notice. You wear it with pleasure and it makes you happy. This is how our clients describe us – ‘Happy Jewellery.’
Nina Dzhokhadze talks jewellery and business:
Smitha Sadanandan: What drew you to jewellery?
Nina Dzhokhadze: In 2005, one of my friends launched her jewellery line in Moscow and asked me to help her with the distribution in London – that’s when I really veered towards jewellery. I managed to develop her wholesale business quite well in a very short time; in the meantime, I realised that I actually enjoyed it very much. Soon, I started working with Stephen Webster and entrenched myself in the industry. I travelled to the big exhibitions at Basel, Vicenza and Bahrain. I got busy working and learning about this industry from inside-out; it was all very rewarding. I was doing what I absolutely love – sales, development of the business and expanding the brand globally. And that became the way forward. My degree in law helped sharpen my analytical and research skills, while my communication and people skills too proved to be quite helpful, when I started my business.
NeverNoT Fine Jewellery
SS: Tell us more about your fine jewellery brand NeverNoT.
ND: We launched NeverNoT in 2018. I handle sales and business development, brand expansion and media relations, while Natia focuses on the creative design and manufacturing process. At NeverNoT, we work together on each piece – brainstorming, ideating and designing; Natia has the most incredible ideas and each piece she creates is a bestseller. We operate from London and Tbilisi and have two offices that oversee varied aspects of the business.
NeverNoT Fine Jewellery
SS: You debuted with bright collections. Why is colour such a key part of the brand’s DNA?
ND: We debuted with three collections – Hide n Seek, Grab n Go, Show n Tell – and dedicated a little poem to each line; it was our way of telling the story behind the collections. We use a lot of enamel in our pieces and love the fact that you can play with colour, and add on different pieces depending on the season and the mood. We always work with bright hues, as both Natia and I are obsessed with colour – the interior, clothes, accessories; just about everything around us is bright and super colourful. We are all about colour, wearability, statement and chunky pieces – fine jewellery that you are guaranteed to notice. You wear it with pleasure and it makes you happy. This is how our clients describe us – ‘Happy Jewellery.’
Julien Riad Sahyoun - a brand represented by Connect Agency
We were one of the first showrooms that fully pivoted to a digital experience during the pandemic early last year; the difficult circumstances put into sharp focus an urgent need to replace the physical showroom experience and create a viable digitised model that would help bolster sales and growth.
SS: What prompted you to launch Connect Agency?
ND: The idea was sparked during one of my trips to Paris during the Paris Fashion Week. It was a very last-minute trip and I was there all by myself to meet with the buyers. I managed to invite and meet so many buyers in just two days. I exhibited in the meeting room of the hotel where I was staying during the PFW and realized that many more designers would benefit from having their works viewed by the global buyers who travel to the city for PFW twice a year during the ‘market season.’ International media fraternity too gather in Paris during these weeks. So, on my next trip to Paris, I organized a trunk show under Connect Agency for NeverNoT and 10 other designers.
Larissa Moraes - a brand represented by Connect Agency
SS: How many brands do you represent at Connect Agency?
ND: We introduce each brand to the buyers and hence try not to have more than 14 designers on board. Should we have more brands, we would lose the intimacy of individual storytelling and personalised introduction. It is very important for us to tell the story of the brand, focus on their strengths and connect the buyers with the right designer and vice-versa. We were one of the first showrooms that fully pivoted to a digital experience during the pandemic early last year; the difficult circumstances put into sharp focus an urgent need to replace the physical showroom experience and create a viable digitised model that would help bolster sales and growth.
Walters Faith - a brand represented by Connect Agency
SS: Are you launching anything new later this year?
ND: Yes, we are working on several new lines that will be launched this year. This year we launched a capsule collection, 'Life in Colour' – the protective symbolism, ‘evil eye,’ was reimagined in bright hues in collaboration with designer Ilaria Lanzoni. The collection has been so popular that we’ve decided to extend the line and include a bunch of rings, earrings and bracelets.
Connect Agency, a boutique digital showroom that bolsters emerging brands, has succeeded in truly making a difference to the fine jewellery market. Their talented roster of designers shared their experiences about the company. We encapsulate it in a video.