Veronique Lanza, Founder, Creative Director and Seychelloise Jeweler extraordinaire shares her story with Cosmocreole discussing childhood, passion, accomplishments and journey to owning her own business.
By Natalie Hodgson
What was your childhood ambition?
My childhood ambition was to be an astronaut, I loved gazing up at the sea of stars from my family home in Beau Vallon. It then changed to dreaming of becoming a photographer for National Geographic Magazine.
Tell us something about your schooling and studies
I went to International School in Seychelles until the age of 11. I then went to England for secondary school. I was accepted into Art College in Savana Georgia, USA receiving a Bachelor of Fine Art in Photography and Fibres. I then went to New York and did a product design internship at American Eagle. I became a freelance assistant stylist photo shoots. I then moved to Los Angeles and lived there for seven years, working for BENNISON a textile company and GLAMHOUSE, a jewellery production company. We produced collections for celebrities Nicole Richie, Kardashian etc.
Did you always want to become a jeweler?
Looking back now I realise that my childhood home was a gallery (and still is!), filled with my parents art collections. My father not only purchased pieces but loved to pick up sea glass, wood, bottles, metal, anything that was interesting. I was surrounded with tools and canvases and was naturally drawn as a tactile learner. With such beautiful surroundings (beaches, sunsets, tropical forests and my parents’ art), I developed an adoration to colour. I always loved art and was constantly looking for ways to create pieces from whatever was lying around in those early days. I was destined for some sort of art, design career.
As a child, I was drawn to accessories to compliment outfits. In the 80’s, Seychelloise women were always very well dressed and proud of their appearance. I just loved going through my mums jewellery box. I admired her attention to detail in matching her outfits with trinkets, charms and earrings.
My father was an art collector and had a great eye for one of pieces. I distinctly remember my father gifting mum unique pieces of jewellery. So really, I have him to thank.
What do you think were your pivotal life points that got you to where you are today?
Leaving Seychelles at 11 years for boarding school in England. Then as a young adult spreading my wings and moving to New York when I was 20.
Who inspires you creatively? Past and present.
Earlier in my life it was Michael Adams, Frederick Hundetwasser and Klimt. Today it stems from nature, my surrounding, experiences, magazines and music videos.
I want to make people happy when they wear my work, so this is the intention every time a piece is being created.
What lead you to become an artist, entrepreneur?
Living in Seychelles and seeing that we were very limited in our production of unique items. We have many imported fabrics from China and Thailand that are for warmer climates but do not reflect our culture, our islands. I knew very early on in my career that I wanted to return home and design my own pieces.
I was born and raised in Seychelles, throughout my time overseas, in New York and Los Angeles, I was still drawn to nature, distinctly the coast, reminding me of home. Seychelles is breathtaking beautiful and is my daily inspiration for my brand. I moved back to Seychelles five years ago and Zil Lokal was created three years ago.
How would you describe your business and how did it all begin?
Zil Lokal is a brand of unique pieces of jewelry. Each piece is hand crafted on the islands of Seychelles by myself.
Art was a constant theme in my life. I see jewelry as a form of art, and I followed in my father’s footsteps collecting unique pieces. My collection was predominately jewelry. My obsession turned into creation in Los Angeles working for GLAMHOUSE. I knew one day I was going to start a fashion line, produced in Seychelles.
Who are your customers and competitors?
My target audience is fashionista globetrotters. Ladies who love unique pieces. When I started the line, I wanted to create pieces that I would wear and love. I’m too busy to think of my competitors, I am too focused on what I am producing.
What makes Zil Lokal different?
I believe my eclectic style of using beads, pearls and shells are unique. Each and every creation is different. I also have a happy and cheerful artboard for the brand, which is reflected in the marketing, models and packaging.
From sunrise to sunset happiness, each unique handmade piece is a little island soul with you wherever you go. My wish is that everyone who wears Zil Lokal jewelry will feel bright, happy and adventurous.
What is your proudest achievement to date?
I believe my proudest moment is when I realized I was featured in multiple retailers. Notedly Travelelers Choice Duty Free Shop made me smile. I have also had a huge support from the local market and am truly grateful.
What is your greatest challenge personally or in business?
The other side of the business. The admin and organization side of being an entrepreneur.
What is your roll out vision for growth in the future?
My goal is to start shipping internationally and diversify my line. I would also like to create a foundation with proceeds going towards Educational programs in Seychelles. I have a number of ideas that I would like to further my line and is very exciting.
If money was not an issue what would you create?
A global fashion line for the islands (kaftans, t-shirts, shorts, bags, evening wear etc) with accessorizes. I would also like to create ‘A Creole Collective’ brand which would be an umbrella of fashion designers under one umbrella.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
I am extremely lucky and grateful to be alive! But there is always room for improvement! I say 8?
What advice would you give to young women with a vision to start their own business?
Make sure you surround yourself with supportive friends, family and mentors. This has been the key to my success.
And finally, tell us more about the piece that you gifted for our readers?
All my pieces are created personally with handpicked shells and beads. They are then transformed into works of art by the seashores of Seychelles, the very inspiration for each and every one. A little bit of paradise, just for you!