Glitter Trotter: Urvi, welcome! Thank you for sharing your morning with me – and your morning coffee! Let’s start with the basics – how did you find your way to the world of fashion in general and jewelry in particular?
Urvi Shah: I can blame it all on my dad! Well, not blame – but I can truly say, it all started with me joining my dad on his business trips. My dad’s business was about finding, collecting, and selling antiques. His trips always sounded like the travels of Aladdin! He went to such magical places as Bali, Thailand, Rajasthan before anyone knew about them, while they were still untouched – no tourists, just peace and beauty!
GT: When did you start traveling with him? When you were a kid?
US: No, that was after I graduated college; I am an accountant by trade – and I worked in accounting up until COVID-19. I was born in Kenya but spent about 10 years in Sydney, Australia – studying and working. Surely, I missed Kenya – so I would visit for holidays and even accompany my dad for short trips. I admired his passion for antiques; it was really amazing to see him finding hidden places and these really unique pieces full of beauty and history, and yes – poetry!
While pursuing more experience as an accountant, I moved back to Kenya and joined my dad’s business, which is called Odds & Ends.
GT: That’s one of my favorite furniture shops in Kenya!
US: Great, so you know it! So, I started working with dad and accompanying him on his trips -- to India, Rajasthan, Bali, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Turkey, and many other unexpected places. And while shadowing him as he worked and followed his passion, I realized I also had a passion – for jewelry.
My dad really liked jewelry. In different countries we would pick different things – just beads, or jewelry, or silverware – whatever the country was historically famous for. Every time I found something beautiful, he would buy it for me. But then he would also pick out special pieces – unique in craftsmanship and design, not just run-off-the-mill. For example, in Bali we went to the Gold Street – a tiny street with multiple goldsmith workshops – and he picked a few special pieces for me to keep.
A few years back, I was cleaning up my dad’s shop – or what was left of it after the merger with a bigger store – you can’t even imagine the treasures he had there! It was truly a treasure trove!
GT: How cool!
US: Oh yes! One of the things I stumbled on was this big, very intricate chest. Imagine, it was full of antiques that he brought from Yemen, when he was about 24 years old! This is pure magic! I am thinking of re-opening the store to honor his life-long passion!
GT: That would be amazing! So, what were the most exciting treasures in that chest?
US: So, the chest was filled with a variety of old, very interesting pendants that you can never find these days – very old and very unique. But my dad was like, “Just throw them away, they are all broken.” I said, “Are you kidding me? These are gold!”
GT: Why would he want to throw away something so precious?
US: You know, I used to hear something like that from my grandfather as well. I think they were used to assessing the value of the pieces as they were – and broken things would have no value. Me, on the other hand, I would clean these broken pieces and then make them into jewelry for myself. Then I would wear my hand-made jewelry to work – because I love to dress up and wear nice jewelry – and I would get a lot of complements. And then people would come to my dad’s shop and see my pieces and would be like, “I want to buy this.’
So, I thought, “Hold on! There is definitely something here…” But what really pushed me to get serious about my own business was my encounter with Sitawa Namwalie. Sitawa is a Kenyan poet, she is truly gifted. One day she asked me to make a jewelry piece she could wear to a public reading of her poetry. She said, “Urvi, you have two weeks to make it. Whatever you design and make in two weeks, I will buy.” She pushed me in a way nobody did before, and it made me realize that this jewelry business had potential. This is how my brand, Poetic Trends, was born.
GT: This is a beautify story! So, what happened then?
US: Things just picked up from then on; it felt like the energy was there just at the right time. At first, I was making jewelry from the pieces I found at my dad’s store. Then I started picking up my own pieces – I would add a couple of days to every business trip I was taking (while I was still working as an accountant) to scout some hidden antique shops and pick up cool beads, pendants, and other things that resonated with me. I would walk around for the entire day, and then wind up with a cup of coffee or a nice dinner. I loved it!
GT: And your family?
US: Oh, my husband has been incredibly supportive throughout this journey! I was still traveling a lot after my two children were born; of course not as much, but my husband would always tell me, “Go! You need this!” And then COVID-19 happened.
GT: Oh-Oh! Did your business suffer?
US: Believe it or not, my business continued growing – but it did evolve.
US: Yes! So, what happened was, COVID-19 caused a massive change to traditional Indian weddings. Prior to COVID-19, most couples would go abroad for the wedding – to India or elsewhere. That is where the brides would buy their wedding gowns – and wedding jewelry, Because of the lockdown in India (and Kenya!), the travel stopped – but not the weddings. So, the brides still wanted unique jewelry for their wedding day – the pieces they would keep their entire lives, wear on special occasions, and pass on to their daughters. So, now they were looking for such jewelry outside India. What also changed was that young brides did not want to buy traditional gold pieces, because those felt outdated; and many were looking for good silver jewelry for their special day. All these circumstances and changes resulted in Poetic Trends gaining a lot of visibility and new clients.
GT: Here, in Kenya?
US: No, globally! Women have been reaching out from various parts of the world – Europe, UK, other African countries. You won’t believe it, but I even got a message from a lady in India, who wanted to buy jewelry from me. I was like, “You live in Rajasthan, you should have pieces like this everywhere!” But she said, she never saw anything like my jewelry before.
GT: What a great story!
US: And stories like that happen all the time. I believe globally, people are looking for something unique – unique design, unique pieces. So, they like brands that can offer that. Not everyone has an eye for design, not everyone can find that one gem in a pile of worthless silver jewelry. I was lucky to be trained and groomed by my dad; but I also think I was meant to do these -- all things art, poetry, beauty, and creativity.
When Kenya started recovering from COVID-19, I did not go back to accounting – I decided to stay with Poetic Trends because by then it turned into a proper, grown-up business that keeps me busy but also allows me to maintain my own schedule and be a full-time mom.
For me, the most important characteristic of Poetic Trends is that it is growing organically. I do not feel that I am pushed into doing something I don’t want to do. This brand is me – my unique aesthetic, my love for special designs and things, my energy, my vision of beauty. There have been a number of people trying to copy my work and mass-produce it. But I believe people gravitate to genuine craftsmanship, they can feel fake and steer clear from it. So, I just keep creating and working with my clients, because I know that my business will continue growing organically and filling in the space it is supposed to fill in.
And that is my story, and the story of Poetic Trends.
GT: It is a very poetic story! But is this really it?
US: Well, now that you asked, I think Poetic Trends sort of opened the door into my own new story, the story of Urvi. For example, I have recently started my personal fitness journey. At the beginning, it was just me trying to get back in shape after giving birth to two children. But my story resonated with so many people, that I had to take it up a notch – now I am an accountable coach, and the group I am responsible for as well as my social media following keeps growing.
I feel that I am now in a learning space. I see a lot of people reaching out to me – for example, yesterday I made a list of people, who wanted to talk to me on Instagram. And not necessarily about my jewelry or my fitness journey – many just wanted to talk about life, ask questions. I counted 65 people. Can you imagine – 65 people! If they were all in my house, I would be overwhelmed. This is a lot of people, who find my life and me personally helpful to what they are trying to achieve or what they are going through in life.
So, this is my learning space now. I’ve tapped into some energy within myself, my intentions are good, and people feel it and reach out. But with that come a lot of responsibilities – I do not want to just start selling and promoting things that I do not believe in because many will take my sharing as a recommendation, or endorsement. The past year gave me this amazing opportunity to learn a lot about myself and people around me. I also feel that this journey had some influence on my jewelry design.
GT: How so?
US: I tend to work more with vintage designs, sourcing my inspiration from the history. Some of the bangles you see in my shop are very reflective on my search for this grounding, for my roots. And that also changed how I see my business. Sales or no sales – I am very happy to interact with people because I am creating from my heart, and I am reaching out through my work to share this inspiration, a piece of me, with other people. And this makes me connect with people at a different level.
For example, sometimes I make reels, which include music special to me or my own poetry. And people tell me that they’ve been reading my poetry to their families or listening to the music the whole day – not just looking at the pretty pictures of my jewelry. It feels different, very fulfilling, like a found my source of energy and my mission. So, I want to create the energy and then, everybody can pick the piece that brings that energy to them whether it's jewelry or homeware or music or a poem.
And this energy brings new people into my life – for example, I am now working with a local artist designing the interior of my new home.
GT: I did not know you also do interior design?!
US: I did not know either until I started. But I am enjoying it a lot, and it inspires me to write my poetry and dig deeper into my creativity. So, I meet people along the way, who are also on their personal journeys – and for a moment our journeys coincide, and we do something beautiful together. With this artist I just mentioned, we are making Lamu-style walls in my children’s rooms, and we are using lace and my drawings to create unique patterns and color schemes.
I am a big believer in the meaning – every person has a meaning, but mine was not there before. At least not so clearly. But now I wake up every day thinking oh my God, I can't wait for today!
GT: I don’t think you can top it up, but I will still ask – what do you think is the future for your brand, your personal brand, and your jewelry brand.
US: I can honestly tell you, I do not know. I am going with the waves. I don't know where this wave is taking me but am just going with it. I am living every day -- waking up fulfilled and going to bed fulfilled. I do not really have a big picture or a big goal in mind. I just tell myself, your wave has come, you need to ride it.
GT: Happy riding!
US: Thank you!