Jewellery brands unite to support young, black designers

‘For Future Reference’: the jewellery brand development agency that just launched a scholarship fund to better diversify the industry.

While local governments as well as big and small businesses continue to work on issues of equality and systemic racism, within the world of jewellery, numerous efforts are being made to raise money for the cause. Announcing on Thursday its plans to create an endowment alongside NYC-based jewellery designer Brent Neale, For Future Reference (FFR) wants to support young, black designers.

The Art Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund will provide aspiring Black designers studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) with exciting opportunities like mentorship programmes and ongoing bursaries.

Having raised a whopping $50,000 from 50 jewellery brands in order to start the fund, the showroom wants to foster emerging Black designers in an industry where people of colour are too often underrepresented. 

‘Our goal is to turn this around — with your help — one student at a time,’ says FFR’s co-founder, Randi Molofsky. ‘We specifically created an endowment, not a scholarship, because we wanted to invest in a long-term contribution to an issue that needs more than a Band-Aid.’

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The outpouring of support we’ve gotten so far for the Art Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund has been incredible, and we hope it’s just getting started! We want to reiterate that this is an open endowment — not just a single scholarship — and ANYONE is welcome to become a donor to make sure that black students will always have access to this initiative at @fitnyc. The more people who get involved, the better! More dollars means more scholarships. ⠀ ⠀ As a side-note, the scholarship fund has the blessing and support of Charles Russell, Art’s longtime partner, as well as that of Mark McDonald who runs Art’s estate. Both were contacted early on in the process. To read more about Art’s life and legacy, please click on the link in our bio. ⠀ ⠀ Thank you to everyone who has spread the word and donated. While we’re excited to be a part of the #artsmithscholarship, this is not about us — it’s about the future jewelry designers whose work we can’t wait to admire.

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Hoping that the money will benefit students for years to come, Molofsky stresses that it’s not a solution, rather a step in the right direction.

Named in honour of the late Afro-Caribbean jewellery designer Arthur George ‘Art’ Smith, the fund is about the future of jewellery designers whose work FFR – and the world – wishes to admire. Smith, renowned for his wearable sculptures and use of mid-century modern design techniques, was chosen as the face of the special program because he is regularly considered America’s first commercially successful Black jewellery designer.

‘We stand with the black community and with all victims of racism,’ Molofsky adds. ‘We will continue investing our time, energy and resources to support communities that have been historically marginalised, and we will increase our efforts to fight for the systemic changes that are so urgently needed.’

Read more about FFR’s admirable efforts here.

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