Leigh Avenue is a design house for handcrafted bespoke jewellery. Payflex speaks to founder Leanne Shakenovsky to find out more about how the brand was born, its journey into eCommerce, and what she’s learnt.
1.Can you tell us a bit more about Leigh Avenue and how you began?
I have had an absolute passion for making art and jewellery since I was little. My Iove for creating jewellery began in my early teen years. After that, drawing on inspiration from my travels to India, Zanzibar and South East Asia, as well as my South African heritage, I began selling pieces to friends, family and boutique stores. In addition, I studied Fine Art after school where I discovered a love for different textures. This really comes through in my jewellery.
I named Leigh Avenue after me of course. But as chance would have it, the address of the magic making – my home and studio is also in Leigh Avenue! I still personally design and curate each Leigh Avenue piece.
2. Can you tell us a bit more about your journey into the SA eCommerce space?
I launched the Leigh Avenue website in September 2019 after years of hard work and planning. The move online seemed like a natural progression and was the culmination of a long-term passion project. But it was far more challenging than I anticipated as I had no understanding of IT or anything eCommerce related. I therefore spent a large chunk of lockdown immersing myself in 6 different courses. The courses focused on eCommerce and digital marketing in a bid to learn as much as I could about the space.
3. What makes Leigh Avenue different in a crowded marketplace?
Each Leigh Avenue necklace is completely unique. No piece is the same. With the fashion industry infamous for fast fashion and a one-size-fits all approach in terms of style, Leigh Avenue definitely sets itself apart. Each piece is handmade, making us uniquely positioned to consistently and continually develop, design and supply wonders of art.
4. How has COVID-19 impacted your store?
The pandemic created a different shopping mentality which seems to have stuck. Prior to the pandemic, South Africa battled with online shopping. Consumers struggled with the concept of shopping for things they could not touch or feel. COVID-19 and the resultant lockdown has definitely brought greater activity in terms of engagement with the brand. We have experienced an uptick in our site visits as well as sales in the past 5 months.
5.Why did you bring Payflex onboard?
I wanted to make my items accessible to as many people as possible. Times are really tough for so many. Therefore, buying jewellery is not a necessity, it’s a luxury. By joining Payflex, I am giving customers flexible payment options on items that will bring them great joy and happiness.
6.Who is your typical audience?
Females aged between 25 and 44 are Leigh Avenue’s core audience. With our pieces ranging from chunky bold pieces to very dainty and more ornate pieces, we have quite a diverse audience of women with very different taste.
7. What are your future plans for Leigh Avenue?
My goal is to expand Leigh Avenue’s reach beyond South Africa’s borders. Moreover, i’m also looking at expanding our product offering to include earrings, rings and bracelets.