In Founder Focus we introduce entrepreneurs and change-makers working on innovative startups, social enterprises and SME’s around Aotearoa New Zealand.


At a glance

Founder: Sarina Iwabuchi

Business: Osakana Jewellery

Founded: 2020

HQ: Auckland


Can you tell us a bit about your business?

At Osakana Jewellery, we’re on a mission to put the brakes on fast fashion jewellery and offer a more sustainable, yet affordable, alternative to mass-produced jewellery that only lasts for as long as the latest fashion trend. Even items as small as earrings have an enormous negative impact behind the scenes on both the environment (waste from cheap discarded jewellery and packaging and deforestation and loss of biodiversity through mining) and society (unethical and dangerous labour practices).

Every Osakana Jewellery piece is designed and handmade in New Zealand from recycled and ethically sourced sterling silver. Even the smallest scrap of silver is recycled to be melted down and made into new pieces, and all of our packaging is 100% plastic free.

We also offer bespoke jewellery design and jewellery-making workshops to help create beautiful and meaningful pieces that will be cherished for a lifetime, rather than ending up in landfill. One of our most popular workshops is the couple’s ring making workshops, which is not only about jewellery but also about creating the first memories of a new life together: forming metal into a tangible reminder of their bond.

Our future vision: we want to eventually offer a recycling scheme to let customers exchange their unwanted/broken silver jewellery for store credit for new jewellery or a workshop; “closing the loop” so to speak!

What’s the backstory for your business idea?

In my past life, I was a neuroscientist, but I had always dreamt of a creative career. I began making jewellery as a hobby when I couldn’t find affordable jewellery that I liked when I came across recycled silver and sustainable jewellery. Delving deeper, I realised the profound, and largely overlooked, impact of fast fashion jewellery. In New Zealand, there were conversations around sustainable clothing, but little around sustainable jewellery. So, I decided to source recycled and ethically sourced sterling silver to design and handcraft jewellery that is high-quality and unique, yet affordable and accessible. 

Whenever I made bespoke pieces, I thought about the story and meaning behind the piece and the wearer. I realised that precious moments could be experienced by giving people an opportunity to create their own meaningful jewellery. Thus, the jewellery-making workshops were born.

What programmes, learning or mentoring, or resources have been of assistance so far?

  • I am mostly a self-taught silversmith but have completed various courses run by the Jeweller’s Academy, which have included specific jewellery making skills and business courses for running jewellery making workshops.
  • I built my online store using Wix, which was perfect for a beginner in website building. I also utilised any marketing tools available on the platform to grow a client base.
  • Coming from a science background, I had very little exposure or experience in business, but luckily there are so many resources available online (often free) that helped provide me with the fundamentals of starting up a business. My previous research career also came in very useful for gathering valuable information and tools in the early stages.
  • I’m proud that I have been able to continue this one-woman venture, even through becoming a mum and having to take a break from the business. It is my dream that Osakana Jewellery will one day become my full-time job and I can help others make wonderful new memories creating beautiful jewellery.

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