iKen Watches (ikenwatches.com) is the latest trend to invade America – being seen on everyone, everywhere these days!
The fully customizable time pieces (over 248,000 unique combinations can be made) were created just last April by Paru Radia, who moved to New York City from the UK. In only a year, Paru’s watches have graced many of Hollywood’s elite stars, taken over red carpets, been seen on athletes, are on sale in over 300 stores across the United States, and have even expanded their reach to Australia. And keeping with her humbled upbringing ways, Paru, who was sadly a victim of bullying herself because of her Indian heritage growing up, also donates $1.00 for every orange watch face sold to the anti-bullying Farley Project organization in Los Angeles.
We at The Levity Ball just had to speak with this truly extraordinary woman who is literally changing the way we wear / look at our watches….
How did you come up with the iKen watch concept and name?
I saw a similar concept in the UK a couple of years ago but was very opinionated on how the brand I saw should change the colors they had, change the style of the dial, change the way it was presented to the customer, change the pricing to make it more affordable and also give the watches a personality etc… then I thought, “Well, if I think my ideas are that good, perhaps I should just do this myself!”
When it came to choosing the name, I wanted something short and simple. Something that meant something and could be expanded to tell the story. Having just returned from vacation in Japan a few months earlier and really appreciating he country, the culture and its people, I looked to translate some words that meant something to me, into Japanese: integrity, choice, authenticity, honesty, fun, opinion, expression, freedom. The word that spoke out to me was “IKEN”, pronounced \’eee-ken\, it means ‘opinion / options’. The iKen brand is all about having options and opinions and expressing them through what you wear. It’s about being an individual. Being who you want to be. Being you.
What sets your watches apart from others on the market?
There are watches that have changeable parts, but usually only the face and band. This look/style of watch is very on trend and has FIVE interchangeable parts. You also don’t have to buy several watches to obtain the colors you like. You can build it how you like from the outset! The top and bottom bands can also be bought in different colors as opposed to a pre-determined set with those colors no-one really wants(!). To top it off, these watches are affordable and great quality (the movement is Japanese and reliable!).
You were born in the UK… How is the American marketplace different than where you grew up?
I grew up in the suburbs of London with my family. Here, I live in NYC – so there is a huge contrast to what I’m exposed to here, versus my experience back in the UK. All in all, I’d say the customers here are bolder with their choices and have more fun being able to express themselves through what they wear.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Be authentic. Always.
What is the worst advice?
Any and all advice that has ever got me to do something that was instinctively against my gut!
What color combination of watch is your favorite to wear?
White case, bling bezel, white buckle strap, white sizing strap, light blue watch dial.
What is your advice to others looking at getting into the watch/fashion industry?
It’s competitive. Make sure the quality is perfect before you launch. Get your pricing right. Always have the next few development ideas up your sleeve.
Where do you see iKen Watches in five years from now?
I see iKen Watches as more than just watches. I see iKen as a lifestyle brand, with more fun and exciting accessories to offer.
Where can people buy your watches?
We are in lots of independent stores across the country. If customers can’t find iKen Watches in a store near them, they can always go online to www.ikenwatch.com to personalize, name, save/buy their very own watch. Their watch will be searchable to all their friends to o.
If you weren’t making watches, what do you think you would be doing?
I don’t know. If I was working for the money – I’d probably be in corporate America – likely banking. If it was something I did more for just the joy of it, probably life coaching, or anything to help people be who they want to be and where they want to be. But right now, being the A-type personality that I am, I’m very, very happy running and growing my own business!
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Just one? Is this one of those “Miss America” questions where the correct response is “world peace”?? Ha ha… Hmm…. OK… lots of things depending on the scale. Yes, on a large scale, I wish the world was in better condition and everyone was happy. On a lower level, egos need to disappear, we need more kind people, and I need to not put on an ounce of weight after eating pizza for dinner 3 days in a row!