5 years ago
Celebrating local craft in Jewelries
AAMO, a line of hand-made jewelry started by Aayusha Shrestha in 2015, is a venture of what she refers to as wearable art. Aayusha is a firm believer that jewelry is more than just an ornament; rather, it is a woman’s way of expressing her independent identity. She works closely with artisans who are masters of traditional craft of brass and silver jewelries. These jewelries may be with or without gold plating.
Though her venture started three years ago, Aayusha had it in the back of her mind much earlier while she was training as an art and design student. Her curiosity to understand the culture, traditions and heritage at a deeper level made her adore the traditional art and craft. As she understood it more, she grew more concerned about them not being passed down, and eventually forgotten. She then started AAMO, and now celebrates ‘artisans and their skill sets that are at par or finer than those we see in imported items.’
She had started the brand with her own investment. “Honestly, I only discussed it with a friend who is as passionate as I am about handmade goods. I was very reserved about my idea and disclosed it to my family and friends only after my first collection was ready,” she shared. “Initially, my family was concerned and unsure, and so were my friends. But, I was determined to create a brand that reflected my identity, the different roles I play—weather being a woman or a Nepali or simply a human.”
For Aayusha, AAMO is an extension of herself -- as a designer and a person. She is the sole owner/designer for AAMO. She was already working as a graphic designer before she started the brand. “I like having my creative space. Working alone gives me a better perspective of my strengths and weaknesses. With a team, it is easier to brainstorm ideas, get different perspectives, work faster and have someone to rely,” she said.
Her line is inspired from parts of culture and heritage within and beyond Kathmandu to which she adds her understanding and interpretation that comes from her personal experiences. Her designs whether it’s for earrings, cufflinks, neck pieces or rings, all have been loved and donned by many with praises and willingness to see more in their social media platform. And social media is where she relies on for her business and can be seen participating in numerous art markets too.
Rather than producing more, she prefers to create pieces with a story that has concept, carries soul and lasts longer. “A lot of research goes into each of the pieces. I start by brainstorming and data collection. Some are inspired by my personal experience, which I try to materialize before I start designing. Then I either sketch or make spec sheets digitally for the artisans, which they then handcraft using traditional skills,” Aayusha shared.
Not only she has a knack in design, but she has a unique sense of responsibility as well. Material she uses like brass or paper is recycled and she suggests recycling to others as well. She works in a social entrepreneurship model and the profit she makes goes to social initiatives like awareness and treatment for children with cancer, and welfare of street animals to name a few.
One of the challenges she has faced from the inception was lack of raw materials. Other challenges include dealing with misapprehension on consumers’ part where they compare the prices and expect handmade goods to be inexpensive ignoring the effort, time and energy that goes into creating each piece of handcrafted goods. Working in the creative field, she said she has realized there is need for exclusive acts for protection of designs as intellectual property and have proper implementation.
Having accomplished so much already, Aayusha plans to explore other traditional crafts and experiment on wood and ceramic. “As a conceptual brand, I think it’s crucial to provide something fresh, continuously. It’s important to be consistent while being on top of what others want and need, and be relevant to people’s desires. So is taking calculated risks, seeking correct workforce and collaboration to sustain,” she said adding that she plans to create a larger community of artisans and work together. Opening an outlet soon is also on her list.