Turning Down Med School for a Small Business — How One Zambian Woman is Conquering the Jewelry Industry


janetfredmanDoes choosing a career in jewelry design over a career in medicine sound like a reasonable choice? Most people would probably say no — but that’s what makes Janet Fredman exceptional. Instead of attending medical school according to plan, Fredman decided to embrace her creativity and turn her love of handmade designs into a jewelry empire in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.

African countries are well-known for their rich supply of gemstones and diamonds (although “infamous” may be a better choice of words in some cases), but Fredman decided to leave the gold and gemstone jewelry-making to other jewelers. Instead, the young designer and mogul-in-the-making chooses to use Africa’s other natural resources — things like wood, leather, and seeds — which are more symbolic of the culture and which offer buyers a variety of unique styles to choose from. As CNN reports, her collection of jewelry, mixed with her creative talents, manage to “translate the beauty of Zambia into wearable art.”

Fredman’s choice wasn’t made on a whim: she explains that she first started making jewelry as a hobby, and then later studied to be a goldsmith, and eventually used the techniques she had learned to create her modern Zambian jewelry. In fact, her business has acquired such a professional aesthetic and she sells such high-quality items at Janet Fredman Designs that people have already begun to question whether she made the items herself.

“Ms. Fredman has touched the nerve of many women looking for ‘something different’ while still incorporating standard jewelry making techniques,” says Ruthann Carroll of Smyth Jewelers. “We applaud her ingenuity and persistence to succeed in the jewelry business.”

Nevertheless, Fredman seems to show no intention of slowing down or changing her business strategy. It appears that she already knows what many designers are only just beginning to figure out — that, in a world where luxuries are more available than ever before, consumers care more about quality and individuality when it comes to expressing their personalities through jewelry.

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