I had the pleasure of meeting with Milka one particularly cold morning in London. I had been wandering through the treasure trove ground floor of Liberty´s on the way to the jewellery press day. In the midst of all the glittering collections, I was instantly drawn to Kismet. Milka’s beautiful, diaphanous and delicate designs are unforgettable. I immediately connected with her way of speaking about her jewellery – she really brings the creative process to life.
Where is your studio where you design the pieces?
My studio is at one of the authentic places in Istanbul in the heart of the Grand Bazaar. I spend half of my week in the studio helping my production team to bring my dreams to life. My showroom is located in Nisantasi, this is where I see my personal Clients for bespoke designs, and I work on designing, drawing and imagining new pieces.
Was jewellery always your passion? How did you start?
I studied business administration, and started working in advertising while I was studying. I loved my job for 13 years; I worked for many brands from various sectors, and learnt about marketing, and key decision making for the future of well-known brands. At first I thought that communications was my dream career. I was doing well, working night and day, and traveling a lot. Then came a point, where I started questioning whether I actually wanted my life to continue like this. My answer was ‘no’. It was a shocking realization for me. I was Head of Client Relations when I decided to leave advertising… It was a huge decision.
Accessories, jewellery and fashion had always been an integral part of my life. I remember losing myself amongst the accessories that my grandfather used to make, when I was just 5 years old. My own jewellery journey took off when I purchased an evil eye gold necklace for a friend living in London. Everyone adored this necklace, and almost instantly started to receive requests from friends and family, whenever I visited London. That’s when I started designing jewellery. It began as a hobby, but the more I learned, the more I created. A new door opened up to me, and I jumped through. I had found a new way to convey my thoughts, beliefs and views about life. On April 1st, 2009 I quit my job. That was it. Kismet was born. I launched the brand with my Evil Eye collection. Eyes are the visual doors to life, and just a look can transmit negative or positive energy. I believe that wearing an evil eye protects you from those looks – the stones reflect the energy back. I created a new design of evil eye using white diamonds, natural sapphires and gold. Now my evil eye collections have become my classics.
Why did you choose ‘Kismet’ as the name of your brand?
Kismet is a word that I use in my daily language very often. Every second we make choices that shaping our futures, meaning that we design our own future. Kismet is a powerful word – meaning luck, fate, destiny, and chance. I always say that the stones I use in my jewellery deflect negative looks/energy, and that is how I choose to protect myself and decide my own future. So this brand is my ‘Kismet’ – my luck. I feel amazing when I wear my jewellery – it keeps my soul positive. I transfer this positive energy to my designs, and people who wear Kismet are aware of this.
Designing jewelry is a very competitive business, how did you excel at presenting ‘Kismet’ to the world in such a short time?
I have simply 3 key principles: I believe at what I create, I work hard, and I am aware of the moment.
I see when an opportunity is there, and I go for it.
When I first started 5 years ago, the only wish I had was to be able to express myself to the world, to be heard. I am very happy to see that I am on the right track, everything I wished for has become a reality. I know that step-by-step I will reach my wider goals.
Where and how you get inspired?
I travel a lot, I read a lot and I am a good researcher. I like to learn about almost everything. I often have mood swings that affect my creations. Sometimes it’s a sentence of a book that I read, or a corner of a street that guides me into a concept. Every collection is born with a story, or a philosophical sentence. First I write the concept, the idea, and belief behind it. Then I visualize and draw in my own way. I try to convey my feelings about the concept to the designs and wish my customers to feel the same way when they wear them. I wish them to see the world the way I see it.
I am interested in your superwoman collection, not just for the designs but for the meaning as well. Talk to me about that… Why superwoman? What does that mean to you? Are you a super woman?
I was raised on a diet of Super-heroes. They take me back to my childhood days, when I was always dreaming, day in and day out. They empower girls and women alike. There are feminists. That’s the reason I chose Super girl, Batgirl and Wonder Woman. Heroes are important to me – they evoke so many emotions in me – the leader, the courageous, the good, the smart, the strong – we are all heroes in some way or another.
This collection offer came to me by Warner Brothers when I was pregnant. It was a very tough period for me. My body was heavy and being obsessed with my job; I wasn’t able to work as I much as I was used to. I struggled with power play, I had to make decisions between my job, and my baby after I gave birth. Now I am a mother of a beautiful 10 month old baby, and I am still trying hard to find the balance of home and work life. I think that makes me a super woman! All mothers are super women.
How is the woman that buys your pieces?
I think jewellery is a way of living, of expressing who you really are. All my designs are modern and simple, yet authentic and mystical. You can feel the West and East symphonize. My designs are adaptable for women who have a simple and unique style, but also like to take some risks in life.
Do you wear jewellery? What is the piece that you wear that you never take off? Not even for showering or sleeping?
I wear jewellery a lot. I usually take off my rings when I get home but I never take off my gold hammered bangles.
What makes you laugh?
Today what makes me laugh the most is: When Myra (my daughter) is having fun, she laughs so loud she opens her mouth wide, and you can see the tiny little tooth she has. She’s hysterical.
What is next?
My big goal was to make my brand one of the top 5 brands / globally. I think it’s time now.