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Milka Karaağaçlı İnce

Milka Karaağaçlı İnce founded KISMET BY MILKA, a jewellery brand offering tailored experiences transcending jewellery with its original design concepts. The designer told us the success story of her brand which will celebrate its 15th anniversary next year.

Launching a new brand takes courage. Establishing its global identity is also a courageous endeavour. How did KISMET BY MILKA’s journey begin?

I have spent many years at marketing communication. Actually,İt all started when I realized that I wanted to do something more meaningful and creative for myself. Just when I thought I needed to make something new in my life, I would frequently travel to London and bring small jewellery with evil eye beads that I had designed from Istanbul to my friends in London. As these gifts were so appreciated, I started to think, “Should I take this more seriously?” and I started producing whatever I wanted, whatever I imagined in my mind, my dreams in a small workshop in Istanbul. My work attracted a lot of attention. Because I realised that I was also starting to delve into the identity and use of jewellery. I introduced the use of jewellery into daily life because I loved it that way too. It still is for me. After a short while, our brand started to be recognised abroad as my designs were preferred by world stars. Madonna was the first global star to choose KISMET BY MILKA... Her style consultant contacted me. And said that she saw the photo of the ring M, which is my daughter’s initials, that

I specially designed for myself, on Instagram, and she liked it very much, and she showed it to Madonna, and Madonna also loved this design. Actually, I designed this ring just for myself and had no idea of turning it into a Monogram collection. When Madonna loved this ring, we of course designed one for her too; then we turned it into

a collection. Apart from this, Meghan Markle also wears her Hamsa ring and Seed bracelet almost every day. Scarlett Johansson got her ear pierced with our piercing. There are many examples like this that make me proud of my brand... I’ve always been someone who dreams big and sets high goals. I am truly grateful - being appreciated by many names on a global scale motivates me to be even more productive. Our global collaborations have also greatly contributed to the growth of our brand. Working on the right projects with international brands that align with our brand identity is very precious to me. We have collaborated with some of the world’s largest brands such as Nike and Warner Bros, solidifying our global reputation, gaining the opportunity to open stores in many parts of the world, and more importantly, becoming a recognised and beloved brand in many countries.

KISMET BY MILKA is known for its bold and innovative pieces. What is your priority when designing a new collection?

Before I start designing, I look for a feeling, a concept. I observe everything around me and draw inspiration from life - my travels, people I see on the streets, history, and even my own past. For me, everything can be a source of inspiration. I think about the psychology and social environment we live in and the geography of our minds and souls. Touching every soul and making everyone feel these stories is the greatest motivation. I draw inspiration from experiences, dreams, events happening in the world, and my predictions about the future. Each collection has a unique story but they’re all connected somehow. Looking back after many years, I see that they have developed in such a meaningful way, each following and supporting the other. Each collection is actually a reflection of my inner world, and the common theme is progress - achieving something better and going beyond boundaries. While tapping into different identities with the stories of our collections, we manage to appeal to people with different styles thanks to our designs. This is what makes me the happiest.

Do you control everything from the initial stages of design in the workshop to the moment it’s displayed in the store? What kind of team do you work with?

One of the key features that make KISMET BY MILKA unique and distinctive is our emphasis on design and production. When I decided to enter the world of jewellery design 15 years ago, I worked at jewellery workshops in the Grand Bazaar every

evening after work. Thanks to my experience and observations there, we can now develop our collections with the help of nearly 70 craftspeople and designers in our design and production departments. I closely monitor every stage of the process. Each collection starts with an idea. Together with my team, we put forward the pieces that best express this idea. The collection pieces are first sketched with a black pencil. After realizing the three-dimensional models of these sketches that best reflect the spirit of KISMET BY MILKA, we move on to wax moulds. This allows us to get a preview of the design. If we’re not pleased with any

of the details, we make revisions to perfect the design. Once the gold alloys are prepared, the casting process begins. Then comes selecting the stones and we agree on details such as the colour, type, and size of the stones to be used. Jewellery craftsmanship is a highly intricate process. The art of jewellery-making is only possible with a team of experts and follows various stages, from sketching to 3D modelling, and stone selection to setting. At our workshop, we employ a highly technical process that goes beyond the creative aspect.

Do you observe differences in jewellery and luxury consumption between countries, including Türkiye, Europe, and Arabia?

First of all, speaking of Türkiye, when we mentioned jewellery 15 years ago, people frequently thought about necklaces and sets. When I started in this business, gold and diamond jewellery was bought from jewellers and put in a safe, to be worn mainly at weddings or engagement ceremonies. In daily life, fashion jewellery was more common. There was no concept of what is now known as design jewellery, which is more accessible, doesn’t require a safe, and allows room for styling. KISMET BY MILKA introduced jewellery into people’s daily lives 15 years ago and became a leading brand in design jewellery. In this sense, I truly believe we changed and influenced Turkish culture’s approach to jewellery.

In Europe, luxury consumption and gold were not as prominent. Europeans considered their high-quality and classic jewellery as investments. They preferred white gold over yellow gold and used simple designs with precious stones. Recently, people have started wearing pieces of design jewellery that can be adapted to daily life with quality and precious materials. Arabia, on the other hand, had a completely different approach. Gold, especially yellow gold, was widely used in daily life, with even more gold pieces worn on special occasions. In recent times, Arabia has also simplified its preferences, moving towards pieces of design jewellery with no compromise on quality. We can see this shift from the high interest shown in our Dubai store.

As your brand celebrates its 15th year, do you have any special plans?

First and foremost, I’d like to revisit our past collections and interpret a 15th-anniversary version of the most beloved designs. Additionally, I want to gather fans of KISMET BY MILKA in a fun event. I think our latest collection really suits our 15th-anniversary in terms of design and craftsmanship and I want to dedicate this collection to this special occasion. Lastly, a new KISMET BY MILKA store is on the horizon in a very special international location.

We will try to open it this year. And, of course, an international partnership is on our agenda. In short, a packed 15th year awaits us.


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