Part 4 – The ups and downs
When you start a new venture, there are teething troubles. As you move past them, challenges in other forms and sizes emerge, because of the business expansion and the expansion of your own expectations from your business. I was not a “professional” in jewelry making; I did many experiments, some succeeded, a lot of them failed. The failure resulted in melting the pieces I experimented on.
However, that is how I kept learning (I still am a learner, perhaps the speed of grasping has increased over time) and improving my skills. Be it creating jewelry or finding the right spot for exhibition or setting up my own workshop or finding good karigars/artisans, trial and error was the only method that worked.
Our designs were copied many times. To stop this, we started copyrighting and registering our designs and taking actions against those who copied them. However, it is not possible to follow up every time because it consumes a lot of time and energy. We have had two robberies in our studios until now. With the insurance, we could recover the loss that occurred the second time, however we did not receive a single penny the first time it happened. That was a huge setback for us since Moha was just 2 years old back then.
Making good jewelry designs and creating good jewelry are not enough to grow significantly in this business. As I had mentioned in the previous blog, jewelry being a closed business fraternity, it is not possible to learn the tricks of the trade unless you have a pedigree. I did not belong to any jeweler’s family nor could I take a formal education in the field. Therefore, the challenge for me was because I was the “first generation jeweler”. Among all these downs, I could keep moving forward because of the trust and love from our customers. There is no “up” as motivating as the confidence of your patrons in what you do.
In July 2016, I visited Delhi for some work. I love visiting museums, hence had set one whole day aside for visiting the national museum of Delhi. During this visit, the big Harappa section enthralled me and I spent a lot of time observing it. I then went to the museum jewelry shop and looked for the Harappan inspired jewelry. However, I did not find Harappan elements in them and I left the place after purchasing some books related to Harappa civilization.
I had left the museum and the Harappan section but my thoughts still lingered around. I perused the books I had purchased but could not find the connect that I was looking for. I then spoke with a friend of mine who is an archeologist. He provided the guidance on what exactly I should look for, in the Harappan art and craft. That planted a seed in my head called “designing and making Harappa”. While penning this down, I have goosebumps as I reminisce that one and half year old journey of “Making Harappa”.
Yes, it took me that long to launch the collection from the day I decided to embark on that journey. Designing and creating this collection was an absolute joyride as well as a roller coaster ride. It is challenging to give justice to the historic pieces of art and make them suitable for the contemporary usage at the same time. We searched for natural carnelian tube beads for this collection for over a year. Once found what we were looking for, every stone and bead were cut, polished and made by the magical hands of our karigar/artisan. He and his father are from the interiors of Gujarat and have revived beads for many Harappa researchers and scholars. For beads and aesthetics, I visited museums and Harappan sites in the interiors of Gujarat. To make the beads and stones look like the ones found at the excavation site of Harappa was a herculean task and thankfully, the veteran artisan undertook it. It took 8 months just to make the beads, but the result was worth the wait and patience.
I was so immersed and obsessed by this project that I had started dreaming about the imaginative Harappan people while executing the project. Reviving a 5000-year-old craft without having its glory lost is one of the most demanding and satisfying projects, I have ever done.
We launched the Harappa collection in an innovative way. There was a seminar on what the Harappa aesthetics were, accompanied by the demonstration of bead cutting by an artisan with whom I worked on the Harappan bead cutting. Many people including scientists, artists, and archeologists from this field of study visited the launch and praised our work. After the launch, many women approached me for wanting to model for Moha. Our models for the Harappa collection broke the barriers of the “myths of beauty” and that made many women appreciate and identify with Moha and the Harappan collection of Moha. This collection gave us a much bigger platform of publicity. We were covered by one of the most popular jewelry magazines of India called Adorn and they had a big cover story on us. There were many more who wrote stories on us; the pool magazine from the Art fraternity, Zee Marathi, Metro Times, Loksatta, Sakal to name a few.
Once I considered myself being the “first generation jeweler” as a challenge; after Harappa, I started saying that while beaming with pride.