Brazilian jewelry designer finds her niche in Shanghai
The road to being a successful female entrepreneur – be it a restaurant owner, a designer, a gallery owner or a retailer – can be bumpy. In this series, "She Power," we talk to women from different countries and different backgrounds about their experiences and stories of setting up businesses in Shanghai. One thing these amazing women all have in common – they all yearn to build a brand that does good, that gives purpose and fulfillment, and even a palpable sense of joy.
The vitality of Shanghai inspired jewelry designer Fernanda Sung to start her own company with innovative designs. She aspires to inspire people to experience joy on a regular basis.
Q: Would you please tell us about yourself?
I am a Brazilian jewelry designer based in Shanghai. I came to China in 2012 to study Chinese and gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture. My mother is from Taiwan Island, so I have Chinese ancestry. But I was raised in Brazil, as my father is Brazilian.
I fell in love with Shanghai after moving here and kept extending my stay. My background is in jewelry, accessories, and packaging design, and during my third year here, I decided to launch a small jewelry brand featuring my original designs.
Q: Why did you decide to create your own jewelry brand?
With a background in jewelry design, working with jewelry was not surprising. After working in a less-than-ideal environment in the garment sourcing industry, launching my own business afforded me greater freedom and control over the energy I put into my work and the world.
Q: What makes Shanghai's business environment so remarkable?
The community of creatives in Shanghai is amazing! People are very friendly and helpful, which is especially encouraging when you are getting started and are still confused about how to manage a business.
Q: What are you trying to bring to the local community?
I offer timeless designs in an everlasting material – sterling silver. With my brand, I hope to inspire people to experience joy on a daily basis. For each collection, I present a theme based on life details that might otherwise go unnoticed. I like to create pieces that are original and unique but are still easy to wear and match with different outfits, elevating them. I like to call them "everyday favorites."
Q: Talk about the challenges of setting up a business here. How do you stay motivated?
As a creative person with no business background, learning how to run a brand can be very challenging. I learned most of it on the go, and I keep trying to improve and grow my business at a pace that is sustainable for me. Again, I wouldn't have been able to do it without the creative entrepreneurs who encouraged and supported me through it all.
Another challenge for my brand is to create value and make people really care about their jewelry. In a world where people can just order things from Taobao and throw them away the next day, it's difficult to explain that less can be more and that we don't need to buy endlessly. I believe that people just need the right pieces – something that is easy to carry, inspires you, looks good with different outfits, and will always make you smile when you put it on.
Q: Was there a moment that made you most proud?
Honestly, when the pandemic started in 2020, I did not see myself coming out of it with a thriving business. I panicked and thought I'd go bankrupt. In the past three years, my customers have been incredibly supportive and appreciative of my brand, and that's what makes me most proud. I'm always happy when I see someone wearing my jewelry and saying, "I love this piece and I wear it almost every day" or "I always get compliments when I wear your pieces." At the end of the day, it's really for them that I'm creating all of this, and they are my best brand ambassadors!
Q: What are you working on now?
I'm launching my new collection this month at The Studio (my showroom), which is open every Friday and Saturday from 2pm-6pm (2/F, No. 34, 820 Julu Rd) and on my online shop. Another project I'm working on is an international website where people can order my jewelry from overseas. The idea started because many of my clients left Shanghai but still wanted to buy my pieces. I hope it will make it easier for them.
Q: Any female role models who inspired you?
I don't have a specific role model. I'm very curious, and because of my work, I'm in touch with different women from very different backgrounds and cultures, and I feel like I always learn something from my interactions. I do want to give a special shout-out to my showroom partner, Itee. She is the founder of two brands (The Nectar Foundry and Loop Swim), and together we run The Studio. We are very different in how we operate but have similar world values, so we learn a lot from each other and complement our efforts.
Q: Do you have any advice for women entrepreneurs?
When you are creating a business, you are the one who gets to decide who you work with, what your values are, and what you want to support. So many people will have an opinion on how you should be running things, so be kind to yourself and trust that you are doing what is best for you.