I was good at drawing and had won accolades at the school and college level in drawing competitions. I had a strong desire and inclination to pursue a formal education in art and design. But my town (Malegaon) didn't have any college for Fine or Commercial arts and hence I could not pursue my studies in those streams. As a solace, I kept drawing whenever I had free time on hand. Moha was not just a business venture for me; it was more of an extension of my childhood dream.
Once the decision of “venturing into designing and making silver jewelry” was made, the rest journey was relatively simple. Wait, was it? Not at all. First of all, I had no background of this business, I did not know where to source silver from, how to get it made, how to find artisans, how to market it, how to find funds for the venture etc. Additionally, I had to battle my own insecurity of being “salary-less” for some time and I did not know how long it would be. For the first 3 years since I started Moha, I could not take a single penny from the profit for my personal use. I had to reinvest all of it to make Moha bigger and better. So, I had no background of the business I was getting into; all I had was a resolve of chasing my dream and the determination to do all it would take.
I had a family friend in Malegaon who was into the making of traditional gold jewelry. He was the one from whom I learnt how to make jewelry. I had to travel a lot between Goa and Malegaon during those times for learning and getting my initial designs made from a local karigar/Artisan. I took a loan of 5 lac rupees from my family and friends in the year 2013. I thank them sincerely for trusting me with their money. After having learnt the initial lessons in jewelry making and having the funds collected, I had to find good karigars/artisans as the single artisan in Malegaon would not suffice.
“Where do you find good artisans for jewelry making?” The answer then was “Jaipur”. Jaipur was the biggest hub of jewelry making in India. Jaipur has artisans who have their generations in making jewelry and they are proudly passionate about their dexterity.
However, Jaipur is also a tough nut to crack when it comes to the jewelry business. There are many jewelers with jewelry as their family run business and it is a close-knit community. An outsider is not at all welcome and is ought to face challenges. I was not only an outsider but also a novice in jewelry making.
One day I decided to go to Jaipur in the “pursuit” of good jewelry making artisans. Yes, it was more of a “pursuit” than “finding” and hence the word used. I landed in Jaipur all by myself with a piece of paper with an address written on it, where I hoped to find good karigars/artisans. After spending some days exploring various possibilities, finally one artisan was ready to make my designs. I was on cloud nine. When I now look back, all this sounds foolhardy, but if I had to do it all over again, I am sure, I would not change a thing.
By this time, I had learnt the nitty-gritty like how to buy silver to how to make basic sheets and wires, soldering agents and collates, which are our main raw materials. I then used to sit with my designs with an artisan to make the design into a reality. I spent 5-6 months learning all this and studying the marketplaces where I could sell my jewelry. But in the beginning, I could only afford selling it on the social media as it was cost-free.
With all this knowhow and groundwork, was I ready to launch Moha?
Well, we will read that in the next blog “Let the show begin”