Choosing a name for their accessory brand was easy for Gemma Shields and Jade Rayner, who combined their names to launch Jade & Gems, although the downside is now many people assume they are girlfriends, when they are actually a couple. By day, Shields works in her family dive business and Rayner is a commercial drain layer, so Jade & Gems functions as a creative outlet and a way to indulge their love for the fashion industry.
Working closely with suppliers is an important part of Jade & Gems’ business. The brand started when Shields was scouring the internet to find a handbag she wanted, but found a lack of brands which created the bags she liked or shipped to New Zealand. Spurred on by this market gap, Shields found a manufacturer and began importing the bags herself, and Jade & Gems was born. Shields currently works with her manufacturers on new designs, as well as buying the authentic designs which come from the individual villages, many of which Shields and Rayner have visited. Sustainable business practices are of utmost importance to Shields, who wants her customers to have the best shopping experience, as well as getting products which have been made in an ethical way with good quality materials.
Soon after officially starting their business, Shields reached out to They All Hate Us, an Australian fashion blog she had been following for years, and they began working together. Shields would like to work with more fashion bloggers, although having her customers enjoy their bags gives her the most satisfaction. While their short-term goal is to grow sales through their e-commerce store, Shields envisions a physical Jade & Gems store as the long-term goal. Both inspired and optimistic, Shields explains her approach to fashion and retail; ‘once you start, you must keep going and make sure you are consistent. From the little things such as frequent Instagram posts and updating product photos, to bigger things like new designs, quick responses to your customers and shipping items out in a timely manner. There is a lot of competition out there and the ones that do well are the ones that are consistent.’