Interview with Sherine Natour

From design to final product, she does everything with her own two hand! Meet sweet vivacious Sherine Natour, the designer behind up-and-coming jewelry brand Vishnu. Get to know how she started in a notoriously competitive business , why the name Vishnu and what she has in store for it next!

SoBeirut: Tell us more about how you came to be a jewelry designer.

Sherine Natour: As a child, I loved creating things with my hands that I considered my very own personal works of art! The journey into professional jewelry design all started with a sad wrist bracelet that I had bought and never worn. I didn't want it to go to waste so I re-worked it and transformed it into something that was more to my liking.  To my surprise, people began to ask me where I had bought my “new” bracelet from and that was the start of Vishnu. 

SoBeirut: You launched Vishnu in 2013, where does the name come from?

Sherine Natour: Growing up, I had always been inspired by Indian jewelry, which is very obvious in my designs. Vishnu is a Hindu God that symbolizes love, protection and everything positive in life. I thought it would be the perfect name for my brand.

SoBeirut: Whom do you design for? Who is the Vishnu woman?

Sherine Natour: The Vishnu woman would have to be a modern, confident woman who is not afraid of wearing bold pieces and making a statement wherever she goes.

SoBeirut: Where do we find Vishnu designs?

Sherine Natour: They are available in Lebanon at Le Loft 271 concept store in Antelias and Leanna’s boutique in Saifi. They can also be found in Dubai (Boom & mellow), Egypt (The First Floor), and Saudi Arabia (Cugini Boutique ). As far as online presence, you can buy Vishnu jewelry at www.lebelik.comwww.mysouk.com, and www.mooda.com

SoBeirut: Clearly, you have customers from all around the Middle East, how is the Lebanese woman different than the rest, if at all?

Sherine Natour: No difference.

SoBeirut: What inspires/influences your creative process?

Sherine Natour: I am inspired on a daily basis by absolutely everything around me and inspiration comes from the most unexpected places. Travel, for example, has always been a bountiful muse: from simple objects to designers to museums and galleries to art and architecture, everything and anything can spark an idea! That idea becomes rooted in my mind and continues to gnaw at me until I materialize my creation. I especially love combining elements that don’t seem to fit together at first glance but that somehow find a new identity in the beautiful pieces they become.

SoBeirut: Which designers or other artists do you admire?

Sherine Natour: I’ve always admired Pop Art and that’s one of the reasons I am drawn to David Kracov’s creations. I’m also in love with Zaha Hadid’s architecture! It’s full of powerful curving forms. Last but not least, the designers behind “Madame Reve”, Lina Chammaa and Hala Mouzannar. Their vintage necklaces are one-of-a-kind pieces that pull together an outfit and are virtually guaranteed to make it stunning. 

SoBeirut: This may be an impossible question to answer but do you have a favorite collection? If so, why?

Sherine Natour: I would have to say my first. When Vishnu was first launched, my entire collection consisted of the ring-to-wrist bracelet- otherwise known as the slave bracelet. The style became my trademark and best seller and I think I’ve developed a soft spot for it ever since.

SoBeirut: What challenges, if any, have you encountered starting a business in Lebanon, as a woman and an entrepreneur?

Sherine Natour: For an entrepreneur in my field- or any field for that matter-, challenges are part of the daily grind. I’ve been lucky not to feel additional gender-based pressure but I have to say the pressure of running a business alone is enough! Competition in the jewelry design business is fierce; I do my best to always create unique one-of-a kind pieces that will make Vishnu stand out.

SoBeirut: What is a regret or let’s say a memorable mistake you’ve made in your professional journey so far?

Sherine Natour: Most people usually say that they don't have any regrets in life and claim that they learn from their mistakes. As cliché as it sounds, in my case, this stands true. That said, my one and only regret would have to be not finding my passion for jewelry earlier in life.

SoBeirut: We say better late than never! What advice would you then give those fledgling designers-in-the making who were lucky enough to have found their calling early on?

Sherine Natour: I would tell a young designer to never give up because patience is key.  In order to be successful, you have to have passion and conviction in what you're doing.

SoBeirut: What’s next for Vishnu?

Sherine Natour: My dreams for Vishnu are big! I look forward to diversifying my brand and promoting it worldwide.

SoBeirut: On another note, as an artist living in Lebanon, what are your favorite places in Beirut and beyond? Feel free to share all your secrets!

Sherine Natour: My favorite place in the whole world is home because I am a strong believer in family and love.  My other favorite places would have to be art spaces, where you are always likely to meet new people and the mountains, which I like to frequent to admire nature. As far food, you can never go wrong with Casablanca in Ain el Mreisseh. I also like Centrale in Saifi for drinks and just “chilling”. My go-to spot for shopping is Plum boutique in Beirut Souks and I love The Silly Spoon in Ashrafieh for tableware and home accessories.

SoBeirut: What is a question you would like to answer that we didn’t ask you?

Sherine Natour: Let’s see. Had you asked me " Do you simply design your jewelry creations or do you make them yourself?” I would have told you that I design and create my jewelry pieces with my own two hands with lots of love and passion (smiling).

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