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Dynamic duo

EAST LONDON GEMS: Semhal Zemikael (left) and Natash Faith

THE LAST few years have been extremely successful for entrepreneurs Natasha Faith and Semhal Zemikael. As other businesses folded, unable to cope with the strain of the economic recession, the duo have bucked the trend.

The pair are CEOs for their bespoke jewellery line La Diosa, which means ‘the goddess’ in Spanish. Their high fashion hand-made creations have created a real buzz, with upmarket department store Harvey Nichols selling out of their pieces. And since featuring in The Voice six years ago, their achievements have been immense.

They have won such honours such as the Precious Award for entrepreneur of the year, which celebrates professional achievements of women of colour in the UK; they were finalists for the Cosmopolitan Awards; and they were voted in the top three young UK entrepreneurs by LaunchLab.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, their jewellery has also graced the pages of popular women’s magazine Glamour and been featured on Vogue’s website. They were also featured in The Voice’s ‘2009 Movers and Shakers’ list – a feat they haven’t forgotten.

“It was such an achievement and it helped to motivate us,” Zemikael says. “We feel that we’ve done so much this year and there is a lot that is still left to do.”

So what is the secret to their success over the last few years?

“What we’ve done is focus on our product placement and we are now in a few more stockists,” Faith explains. “We’ve been working hard to figure out what the next step on the ladder is. This year has been about planning and organising the next five to seven years.”

The plan has worked so far; celebrities have been falling over themselves to adorn their bodies in their unique pieces. The likes of TV presenter June Sarpong; Baroness Amos, the former leader of the lords who is now the British high commissioner to Australia; and Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawling, the former first lady of Ghana are some of the high profile women wearing their jewellery.

This year, the girls, both 25 gained a new fan in the form of Sarah Brown, wife of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. She was pictured standing next to Barack and Michelle Obama, proudly wearing a piece from the east London duo.


FASHION FAN: Sarah Brown sports a necklace from the La Diosa range

“She bought the necklace from one of our stockists,” Faith says of the ex PM’s wife. “My mum bought a copy of a newspaper and saw a picture of her wearing our necklace. I couldn’t believe it; I almost had a heart attack when I saw it! For us, it’s an amazing achievement. We make jewellery for powerful women and to know that Sarah Brown loved the necklace, makes what we do worthwhile.”

The picture was beamed across the world and newspapers and TV programmes such as ITV1 news programme London Tonight were keen to talk to the girls.

“It drove up the hits on our website, drove up sales and raised the profile of the brand – it’s had a great impact,” Faith admits.

Faith and Zemikael say they describe a typical La Diosa customer as “strong woman with a distinctive sense of style.” Faith adds: “She has to understand herself, she has to be able to walk into a room and not say a word and still be noticed, and be able to carry off a piece of jewellery.”

It’s no surprise then that the girls’ wish-list of future celebrity clients include Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama. But a more immediate desire for the duo is to continue enjoying success, despite the recession.

“We are in one of the worst economic situations, but it helped us work out where we wanted to be and we’ve done really well,” Zemikael says. “It’s been a tough time, but we’ve still been able to land more stockists, sell more and generate more press.

“I think our success is not only a result of the jewellery, but also our story; two girls from east London that have made something out of nothing.”

Despite, their many achievements, the girls are modest when reflecting on their success.

“Any entrepreneur would say that success is relative to the person who is trying to achieve it,” says Faith. “With that in mind, although we’ve done well, we don’t deem ourselves as being successful. We don’t sit and pat ourselves on the back because that makes you complacent.”

The pair hope that their mark in the business world can serve as an inspiration to other black entrepreneurs, and have been involved with campaigns such as Make Your Mark and the Nelson Mandela children’s fund.

“We want to inspire kids and young adults and share our experiences,” says Zemikael. “A lot of young people want to be entrepreneurial and I think that should be instilled at a young age.”

The girls have recently opened their own showroom in London’s Hatton Gardens and they are now working on future plans.

“We do want to go into different foreign markets,” Faith reveals. “We want to maximize our production and we want La Diosa to be a lifestyle brand.”

For more information visit www.ladiosa.co.uk

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