Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Designer shuns medical school to build 'jewelry empire'

By Monique Todd, for CNN
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1046 GMT (1846 HKT)
Janet Fredman Designs is a jewelry retailer specializing in contemporary accessories. Utilizing natural resources such as seeds, wood and leather, Fredman creates unique pieces that encapsulate the raw beauty of Zambia. Janet Fredman Designs is a jewelry retailer specializing in contemporary accessories. Utilizing natural resources such as seeds, wood and leather, Fredman creates unique pieces that encapsulate the raw beauty of Zambia.
HIDE CAPTION
Raw materials
Ambitious future
Creative freedom
Lifelong passion
Medical school vs jewelry design
Doorstep resources
The age debate
Resource rich
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Janet Fredman Designs is a jewelry business based in Lusaka, Zambia
  • Fredman transforms raw materials such as wood and seeds into quality accessories
  • The venture hopes to reveal the inherent beauty in modest resources

Every week, African Start-Up follows entrepreneurs in various countries across the continent to see how they are working to make their business dreams become reality.

(CNN) -- It takes a lot of guts to choose jewelry design over a career in medicine, but then, Janet Fredman isn't the kind of woman to shy away from challenges.

Shunning the prospect of attending medical to follow her creative side, the young entrepreneur went about transforming a passion for handmade accessories into a flourishing design practice based in Zambia's capital, Lusaka.

Despite the country's rich offering of gold and gemstones, Fredman opted for everyday materials such as wood, seeds and leather to make her pieces. The result is a stunning collection of rings, bracelets and necklaces that translate the beauty of Zambia into wearable art.

Bicycles transformed into trendy furniture
Moonlighting lawyer 'draws' on cakes

"[When] I started first making jewelry, it started as a hobby", recalls Fredman. "I started making jewelry out of beads, and then later went to study as a goldsmith."

She adds, "after studying, I came back and then what I learned as a goldsmith I incorporated it with Zambian materials to make contemporary Zambian jewelry."

A visit to a Cape Town jewelry shop further inspired Fredman to dive headfirst into her new venture, and since January 2014, the business has provided both a rewarding and challenging experience. Still in her 20s, Fredman has impressed many with her success, but establishing a new business at a young age is never easy.

"Business has been going OK", says Fredman. "Sometimes it's slow and sometimes it's high -- [I'm] still trying to find my way, what to do, the how, the do's and the don'ts; still trying to figure it out."

Professional and sleek, Janet Fredman Designs has the appearance of a high value retailer -- but it's this very quality that has led some people to question the legitimacy of her work.

They're like 'you're young, did you really make this?'
Janet Fredman

"They're like 'you're young, did you really make this?' or 'maybe you bought and maybe you're selling'" she says.

Nevertheless, Fredman remains unfazed. In fact, the talented designer shows no sign of slowing down.

"The hopes for my business is to grow it, so it becomes an empire, a jewelry empire everyone will be talking about."

Click through the gallery above to see Fredman's creative process and check the video below to find out more about her entrepreneurial journey.

Read this: Brand creates buzz with Africa-inspired designs

Read this: Luxury shoes put sparkle in your step

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 8, 2014 -- Updated 0924 GMT (1724 HKT)
Meet Kemi Kalikawe, the owner of Naledi Lifestyle Store which specializes in fashion and household items in Dar es Salaam.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1400 GMT (2200 HKT)
A student works on a laptop in Nigeria.
Five digital natives from five very different African nations have come together to transform the continent's approach to education.
September 3, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Translating local charm into eye-catching designs, Definition Africa is a booming t-shirt retailer staying true to its Ugandan roots.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1046 GMT (1846 HKT)
Janet Fredman Designs transforms modest materials such as seeds, wood and leather into high-end jewelry.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1006 GMT (1806 HKT)
A chocolate truffle torte cake is seen in Vienna on April 20, 2013. Cakes and pastries are a very popular feature of Austria's cuisine. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER KLEIN (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER KLEIN/AFP/Getty Images)
A lawyer by day and cake maker by night, Sungeni Mtalimanja turned her passion for baking into a business.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1044 GMT (1844 HKT)
In Kenya's capital city of Nairobi, a group of craftsmen are transforming bicycles into eye-catching modern furniture.
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Meet the ingenious entrepreneurs wanting to get a slice of Nigeria's wedding industry cake.
July 29, 2014 -- Updated 1209 GMT (2009 HKT)
In Malawi, the craft of bamboo weaving is helping disadvantaged youth rise out of poverty.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1220 GMT (2020 HKT)
Former model Hiwot Gashaw graduated from Ethiopia's leading design school, and now she wants to create the country's first superbrand.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 0907 GMT (1707 HKT)
Aromas of Zanzibar sells accessories crafted in vibrant prints. All products are made on site by local artisans, using only locally sourced materials.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1213 GMT (2013 HKT)
Two entrepreneurs are making advertising go digital in Uganda Their start-up provides digital screens for the country's supermarkets and offices.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 1407 GMT (2207 HKT)
A general view of the Hout Bay harbour covered in mist is seen on May 8, 2010 from the Chapman's peak road on the outskirts of Cape Town. Chapman's peak road is the coastal link between Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope. When following the African coastline from the equator the Cape of Good Hope marks the psychologically important point where one begins to travel more eastward than southward, thus the first rounding of the cape in 1488 by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias was a major milestone in the attempts by the Portuguese to establish direct trade relations with the Far East. He called the cape Cabo Tormentoso. As one of the great capes of the South Atlantic Ocean, the Cape of Good Hope has been of special significance to sailors for many years and is widely referred to by them simply as 'the Cape'. It is a major milestone on the clipper route followed by clipper ships to the Far East and Australia, and still followed by several offshore yacht races. AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo credit should read GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Cape Town start-up which offers tours of the city in 3G Wi-Fi equipped vehicles, allows clients to upload holiday photos instantly to social media.
June 27, 2014 -- Updated 1011 GMT (1811 HKT)
Rwandan entrepreneur Teta Isibo is the owner of Inzuki Designs, a fashion brand which specializes in handmade jewelry and accessories.
See the full coverage of CNN's African Start-Up -- the show that follows entrepreneurs across the continent making their dreams become reality.
ADVERTISEMENT