Aksa (pronounced Ak-shaw) is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘the soul’ and the designs of the recently launched brand Aksa Nepal reflect this, which as one of the founders, Priyanka Rai Shrestha, says reflects the soul of the person who wears it. Aksa is a jewelry brand that mostly makes jewelry using brass and precious stones. The brand, launched late December last year, aims to promote local artisans and artists, in turn preserving and promoting the culture of Nepali craft.
The founders of Aksa, Priyanka and her partner, Aakash Shrestha, claim that they had been discussing the concept of Aksa for six months before finally planning to launch the brand. Both Priyanka and Aakash have a diverse background—Priyanka is a double graduate, in Journalism and Social Work, and was working with the Chaudhary Group up until quite recently and Aakash has experience in fields like hotel management, business and, arts and crafts. Besides Aksa, Aakash is the founder of two other brands—Saboo, a natural bodycare brand and Manan, a planner and notebook brand.
“We started this project thinking it would be a cool thing we created with our joint efforts to look back on in the future,” says Priyanka adding that although initially she had thought of running the business on her own, she later wanted Aakash to be involved as well because of how supportive he had been about it in the first place. Currently, Priyanka is in charge of branding and marketing of Aksa and Aakash looks after the overall operations.
The couple also states that the preparation for the launch of Aksa took them about three months. Although it hasn’t been that long since its launch, Aksa has already released over 20 designs. They only have earrings and bracelets as of now but Aakash says that the brand will add other forms of jewelry to their lineup including rings. Priyanka further reveals that their products are getting good reviews from their customers who like the minimal yet unique designs they offer.
Aksa is run entirely through their Instagram account right now. However, the founders are planning to feature the products at different concept stores and local markets and events in the future. Additionally, Aakash also reveals that they plan on opening an outlet of their own in the future as well. “But developing our brand further and getting its name out there is our prime goal as of now,” says Aakash.
The couple works closely with their team of crafters and designer to create all of their products. Priyanka comes up with a theme or concept and, together with the designer, decides on the final design of the jewelry. This design is passed onto the crafters who create the final product. The brand only produces a few copies of their design as of now and in case a customer orders a design they have run out of, they quickly recreate the design and deliver it to the customer within four to five days. Aksa is also open to customizations and minor alterations.
When questioned about why they chose to only work with brass to create Aksa products, Aakash reveals its because of the beneficial metaphysical properties of the metal. “Brass is one of the five metals (also called Panchadhatu) and it has a very important role in the development of our culture and history—used in things like pinnacles at temples and utensils among other things,” states Aakash.
Priyanka, however, has a more personal answer to why she likes working with brass. She states that from her childhood she has never particularly been fond of gold. She admits that she isn’t a big jewelry wearer in general and says she always disliked it when her family or friends tried to persuade her to buy or wear gold jewelry simply because it was more valuable. Instead, she would just buy brass jewelry and wear that.
A question Aksa’s customers often ask the two founders is whether their jewelry tarnishes quickly or not and it is during these moments Aakash realizes how a majority of Nepalis have zero knowledge about brass as our society values other metals like gold and silver over it. He explains that since it’s a natural metal, brass gets oxidized when it comes in contact with air for a prolonged period. He gives out a simple trick to prevent this from happening—cleaning brass occasionally with lemon and salt. He also claims that Aksa products only utilize pure brass without acid or chemicals and additional plating so their customers don’t have to fear about having allergic reactions to the metal.
Their packaging is another thing a lot of Aksa’s customers like about the brand. Before delivering the orders to their customers, the Aksa team place it in a small wooden box with a piece of woolen fabric underneath—which apparently is woven by Aakash’s mother.
“Everything about our company is sustainable as we don’t want our products to be harmful to the environment at large,” concludes Priyanka.