We’re gradually becoming aware of the benefits of sustainable fashion–they include a reduction in environmental impact and a show of support towards fair labour practices, among a whole host of other things we can feel good about. And it is exactly because of these reasons that Singaporean Lydia Lim established Luxequisite, an online jewellery store that offers both bespoke and pre-owned pieces. The 32-year-old tells us more about why she upcycles jewellery, why you should too, and the lessons she has picked up from running her year-old business.

Why did you decide to offer a service that upcycles pre-owned jewellery?

I have a great disdain for fast fashion in general, from the waste it creates to the exploitation of workers and the crappy environment they have to work in. If you think about the mining process, it sounds all too scary–the amount of labour invested, the climate issues and harsh environments that miners have to endure, along with the basic destruction of environment by digging into the ground. If fact, the depth for some mines can go up to 50 meters in depth.

Also, these days, consumers are also looking to maximise what they already have instead of purchasing more items. More consumers are changing the way they spend and consume.

How do you acquire pre-loved pieces?

The customer usually brings them to me, because sellers typically receive a lower-dollar value compensation since they are pre-owned items. However, in some cases, a customer can make a profit depending on factors such as the increase of the price of gold, rarity of the gemstone or diamond, and inflation of the dollar.

What are the benefits of upcycling jewellery?

Firstly, it’s usually cheaper, and thus cost efficient. Secondly, it’s much more sustainable because the stones are being recycles.

Lastly, there is the preservation of sentimental value, because you’re potentially keeping something that once belonged to your ancestor. If the piece is too ‘inexpensive’ to keep, you can add more diamonds stones or we can liquidate it for you so that you can buy a brand new piece.

Most stores don’t work in this way because it’s time-consuming and harder to earn from. However, we believe the economy is changing and that it’s becoming circular, and we put our customers first. This is the only way to build a sustainable business and maintain brand loyalty, by doing what’s right and finding solutions for customers even though it might not be the most lucrative method.

How does Luxequisite guarantee the authenticity of its jewels?

To start, we ensure that there are certificates of authentication. If they are not already provided, the customer can always ask for certification–we usually only issue certificates for pre-loved items upon request because most customers who are looking to purchase them are less fussy and more price sensitive. Luxequisite gives them the option of this add-on service/document instead of automatically adding it to the product price.

What were some of the challenges you’ve faced in your entrepreneurial journey, and how did you overcome them?

I picked up my knowledge mostly from the Gemological Institute of America–I didn’t have mentors in the industry and so didn’t have the opportunity to ask questions or fall back on an industry expert. Most jewellers or new brands tend to have some sort of association with someone within the industry, be it from the supply chain or sales department. I had zero.

That said, like most startups, especially within the technology space, we are disruptors of the industry–we don’t always have the right experience but we learn quickly. I think I speak for a lot of startup founders here: being agile and having a strong attitude is what propels you forward, regardless of where you started.

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring business owners?

Understand where you’re at, and why you’re doing this. Try not to start a business purely fuelled by an idea–that adrenaline will wear off soon enough. You need to be willing to make sacrifices and be serious about it. Do your research, position yourself and the most important of all, is to have discipline. I can’t stress this enough. Discipline is what keeps you going, and it is a key factor for maintenance, growth and success.