The Australian - Wish Magazine - - Q&A -

Alinka, the name of my brand, is ac­tu­ally my nick­name. It’s a fine jew­ellery col­lec­tion so I use 18-carat gold and black and white di­a­monds. It’s been in­spired by my Rus­sian her­itage. I was born in St Peters­burg in Rus­sia and came to Sydney for univer­sity 15 years ago.

I love fash­ion and de­sign. I have been de­sign­ing jew­ellery for the past five to seven years, but more one-off pieces for var­i­ous clients. A couple of years ago I de­cided I would love to launch my own brand so here we are.

I have got quite dis­tinc­tive taste and I couldn’t find pieces that would go from morn­ing to night, or pieces that I could layer, or pieces that I could mix. I like el­e­gance with a slight edge to it. I just wanted to de­sign jew­ellery for the mod­ern girl that can mix and match.

It took me a good six months of de­sign­ing. My aim is to make very high-qual­ity pieces that can sit along­side well-es­tab­lished pre­mium jew­ellery brands. That took a bit of time and trial and er­ror. All in all it took 18 months, get­ting the man­u­fac­tur­ing per­fect. I wanted to be 100 per cent happy with each and ev­ery sin­gle piece of jew­ellery be­fore it could be avail­able for sale.

It is very ex­cit­ing to see it all fin­ished. I have to pinch my­self some­times. It has been a long-term dream of mine to have my own fine jew­ellery brand. It’s in­ter­est­ing be­cause I am see­ing cer­tain trends among my cus­tomers. Some­one who is a lit­tle bit more con­ser­va­tive in dress style goes for more el­e­gant pieces and some­one who is out to push the bound­aries will go for the edgier pieces.

The stars [ear­rings and rings] have been very pop­u­lar. My stars are in­spired by the Krem­lin stars in Moscow. My whole col­lec­tion is in­spired by my child­hood and grow­ing up in Rus­sia. The sparkle of the di­a­monds makes me think of the ice on frozen lakes, where it was -20C or -30C in my child­hood, or walk­ing in the snow with my mum when I was lit­tle. I wanted to bring some el­e­ments from my her­itage into my col­lec­tion.

When I was 19 I moved to Aus­tralia to study at Sydney Univer­sity. I wanted to study and get a de­gree in English. I could speak English but I fig­ured out quite early that un­less I lived in an English-speak­ing coun­try, it wouldn’t be up to stan­dard.

I didn’t really start trav­el­ling un­til my mid to late teens be­cause I grew up in com­mu­nism. I just thought Aus­tralia was very in­ter­est­ing and it sounded a beau­ti­ful coun­try and I had not had been here be­fore. I planned to come for three years — I never really had any plans to stick around.

A year and a half af­ter I came to Aus­tralia I met my now hus­band [Sydney FC chair­man, property de­vel­oper and funds man­ager Scott Bar­low] and I stayed. We met ran­domly, in Es­tab­lish­ment. I re­mem­ber think­ing this guy can­not be true, he is such a nice guy. I re­mem­ber say­ing to him I don’t really speak much English and he said, that is okay, and we spoke for half a night. He rang me the next day and that was it. I was 21 when we met so we were lucky to be able to grow up to­gether.

I was al­ways a bit of a nerd. I had to study be­cause I couldn’t hold a con­ver­sa­tion in English and I was study­ing at Sydney Univer­sity. I did ac­count­ing and fi­nance ma­jors as part of a commerce de­gree. I re­mem­ber my first few days in lec­tures and think­ing what is that guy in shorts [the lec­turer] talk­ing about?

I was al­ways mo­ti­vated and am­bi­tious. I worked in the cor­po­rate world [at ac­count­ing firm PwC] for a few years be­fore I had my two chil­dren and be­fore I pur­sued my pas­sion, which is Alinka.

My time at PWC gave me a very good base for the busi­ness. I can understand the fi­nan­cial state­ments, num­bers do not scare me. I think about all as­pects of the busi­ness. It has to be great de­sign but it also has to be fi­nan­cially vi­able.

I would love to see my brand in other parts of the world, in Rus­sia, in Europe, in Amer­ica. I have a vi­sion one day to walk into depart­ment stores and see my jew­ellery there. I enjoy ev­ery step of the way from de­sign to pro­duc­tion to re­ceiv­ing new pieces from the fac­tory to putting it in a box and ship­ping it off to the cus­tomer. I am now meet­ing peo­ple who are wear­ing my jew­ellery — that is the big­gest re­ward for a de­signer.

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