In 2018, Kay Lyng established her contemporary jewellery business from her home studio in Kilkenny.
With a love for jewellery from a young age, Kay’s passion developed from a hobby to a full time business.
“ I’m like a magpie for accessories," Kay says. "One day, I popped into a shop in Dublin, picked up some beads and made a necklace. The necklace got a great reaction at work, so I decided to make more. I eventually started selling my designs and it just kind of grew from there. Making jewellery slowly evolved from a hobby to a side hustle and then, a very demanding side hustle!”
Previously working in financial services, Kay's background in business gave her a grounding in establishing K Kajoux.
“There’s a lot you can take from that industry into running a creative business," she says.
"I decided it would be a good time to take a risk and see if I could make my business work full-time.”
Kay says the meaning behind the distinctive name of her business is an amalgamation of “K” for Kilkenny with the French word bijoux for jewellery.
"I just really liked how it sounded and I think it’s unique. Once you learn how to pronounce it, you won’t forget it.”
While she sources her materials from all over the world, Kay’s jewellery is designed and handcrafted in Kilkenny.
““I live in the countryside, up a lane and out of the way. All the metals that I use are really high-quality plated materials. They are hypoallergenic, long lasting and durable. I’m also looking at Irish gemstones at the moment, but have yet to find the perfect ones,” she says.
“I think inspiration can come from anywhere. For me, I have found inspiration for my designs in nature and on my travels. For example, my Wild Emerald range is inspired by the green areas of Ireland but has a contemporary twist."
Describing this year as “a rollercoaster”, Kay recalls how the first few months of 2020 were particularly challenging for local businesses like her own.
“COVID-19 came at a really difficult time for both shops and suppliers alike as we were just gearing up for a busy tourist season," she says. "That was tricky, but we could definitely see the support for Irish businesses coming through with initiatives such as Champion Green.
“I already had a website, thank goodness,. It just needed a bit more traffic. I was able to work with the Local Enterprise Board for that and the website got really busy in April and May. When the shops reopened, people were actively looking to buy and support Irish, which was great. I think there’s a very conscious shift towards that in recent months."
Looking towards 2021, Kay acknowledges the challenges that lie ahead for smaller businesses.
“I hope we’ll all be very busy in the run up to Christmas, but January and February will be quiet months for businesses all around the country. It’s not going to be our usual tourist season.”
Kay recently launched a new collection entitled Refractions and recalls how inspiration struck at home during lockdown.
“I noticed sunlight moving throughout the house and learned that this movement is called refraction," she explains. "You can see the prism of light that comes through the stones used and there’s a mixture of textures and materials used in the pieces. It’s a good metaphor: for the time that we’re in, the light keeps moving. Our path may have been altered but we are moving forward."
“When we were in lockdown, we missed being connected to each other. I think when you support local, you are staying connected to your community because you’re putting a face to the brand that you’re buying.
“I think it’s very important to be able to support the people around you, and they, in turn, will support back. I’m so grateful for all the support that I have received. I think all of that goodwill is very important for us to strengthen and support our community."
Further information on K Kajoux Jewels is available here.