Kay Lyng, K Kajoux Jewels, Craft Prodcuer fo the Year
Kay Lyng from the hills of Clomantagh, Co. Kilkenny is an award winner jewellery designer and entrepreneur. She was named ‘Craft Producer of the Year’ at Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce Awards.
K Kajoux Jewels is an independent Irish owned handmade jewellery company where all the pieces are designed and created by hand and each piece is designed by Kay Lyng in her studio in Clomantagh. The collections fuse the vibrant colour and raw beauty of semi- precious stones with the amazing colour innovation from Swarovksi Crystals.
Kay grew up in a hurling household and is sister to Tara and Derek Lyng. She studied Business and Chinese in Trinity College and worked in financial services for years before taking the leap of faith to start up her own jewellery business. Kay and husband Thomas have two girls Aoibhinn and Julie Ann.
Here is a glimpse into Kay’s world…
Kay you have had a huge year winning the title of Kilkenny’s Craft Producer of the Year…
That’s for sure, I was thrilled to win it. It’s a great honour and the benefits of it have been fantastic for my business. I was at ‘Gifted’ at the RDS a couple of months later and I couldn’t keep track of the amount of people who were able to reference the award, especially from the amount of people outside Kilkenny. As a small business you have a small budget for marketing and PR, so that in itself is just fantastic.
Before you became an award winning jewellery maker, you had a different life in the financial services in State Street?
The jewellery was my creative outlet in some ways. I am probably more of a right side of the brain type of person than the left side. I was able to transfer a lot of the skills that I learnt in financial services to K Kajoux, building relationships, etc. No matter what job you do, you are spread sheeted to death, and that still applies!
Of course is it very different and the people you meet are very different. In the jewellery business no two days are the same. It’s a lovely change, I am really enjoying it and it’s a lot more dynamic.
You have a strange back story about the day you decided jewellery making was for me?
Yes, it all started with a friend ‘standing me up’ in Dublin! I don’t think she meant to, but whatever happened she didn’t turn up. So I decided to make an afternoon of it and did a few things that I said I would always do.
I went to the National Gallery and a designer dress shop called Costume. Next door to Costume is a bead shop called Crowned Jewels and I bought a few pots of jewels and beading wire. I went home that evening and I made a cool necklace, which I wore to work and a few people admired it and asked me if I could make them one. And so it was born. The orders came in and I taught myself have to make them with on line tutorials on You Tube. The techniques are all self-taught.
Do you work on your own?
Yes and every single piece is hand crafted by me. It’s completely Kilkenny made, but the stones come from all over the world.
Your pieces are instantly recognisable and they stand out.
I think it’s the quality of the stones I use, I go for quality and for textured. I looked for the unique characteristic for each stone to bring them into the collection. I like to create a story around them – that part is the day dreaming part. Then I have to get down to practicalities of what works and I like to draw in Swarovksi Crystals which bring out the unique characteristics in the stones.
How long does it take to make the piece?
To come up with the first design could take a day or sometimes you get lucky and it’s done in an hour. To reproduce it is not that long, earrings are quite quick. It surprises people when they are in the workshop how quick I can make a pair of earrings but that’s the hand crafted skill and I don’t have to waste time hooking up machines.
Whats the story behind the name K Kajoux Jewels (pronounced K- Ka- Jeu)?
K Kajoux Jewels, pronounced as K- Ka- Jeu, is kind of a made up name and it’s a play on a few words. K for my name, KK for Kilkenny and bijoux is the French for jewellery. Bijoux is over used so in a brain storming session we threw them all together and we are stuck with it now! When I picked it, I didn’t think we would be going for this long and this strongly but when people do learn how to pronounce it, they don’t forget it.
You have taking an unusual route to market by selling your jewellery on line. Is that not difficult?
I also sell wholesale too so I have the reassurance of customers, they might have seen it in shops or met me at a fair. More and more customers are following us on line and its how you come across with the quality and values of your company that is important. Social media has been great to deliver my message and I build the relationship with my customers there. Its more than ‘one see, one purchase’ relationship, usually they have been following me for a while on social platforms and then go through to my website.
Kilkenny Design Shop has been a great supporter for you for years?
In 2018 I left financial services to work on K Kajoux full time, but I was very lucky as Kilkenny Design have stocked the collection for ten years. It started in Shutterbug where my friend Blanaid Hennessy put some of my pieces on display in her shop. Kathleen Moran saw them and has been a huge supporter to me with advice, she guided me through the whole sales process.
The Spring Summer Collection has just be shown at Showcase Ireland and was really well received. We had a very strong show and I got eight more stockists around the country for the brand. Those first deliveries will be going out in time for Mother’s Day and they will also be available on line. We will be offering gorgeous gift wrapping for Mother’s Day because it is important that we look after our mammies!
Your pieces are contemporary, so what would you advise people to buy for Mother’s Day?
The great thing about my jewellery is that it is worn by three generations – from mid-20’s up to the 80’s. It covers a nice dimension from the young mums to the glamour mums to the mums that are becoming grannies. Coming into the summer session I would recommend a splash of colour.
Who in the limelight, would you love to see wearing your jewellery?
Maybe Saoirse Ronan!
K Kajoux is available online at www.kkajoux.com and in selected stockists nationwide, locally you can buy K Kajoux in the Kilkenny Design Centre. www.kkajoux.com @kkajoux
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