March 13: Anyone who likes to make an effort with their outfits knows just how powerful jewelry can be. Be it rocking an elaborate earring for a wedding or opting for simple hoops for a casual night out, jewelry is there to make a statement—both powerful and subtle. And so, jewelry is something that’s quite essential you could say. Teenagers, however, seem to prefer simple, classic designs that can spruce up an outfit with minimal effort, and they tend to gravitate towards items like earrings, bracelets, and scrunchies.
Aakriti Shrestha and Supriya Shrestha, both 19, have started an initiative called Matina in order to make jewelry that mainly caters to Nepalis youngsters. “As we are teenagers ourselves, I think we are able to understand the needs and demands of those like us,” says Supriya adding that they are focused on crafting pieces that youngsters like to wear.
The idea of Matina started when the duo did a fundraising program with their school’s club at St. X
avier’s School in Jawalakhel, Lalitpur. The duo had a stall where they sold chocolates and simple, handmade jewelry. Apparently, it was received with so much enthusiasm that the two friends started wondering if they could actually start a business.
And so, after we finished school, we began sourcing materials and making simple jewelry,” says Aakriti explaining that this little venture was what eventually became the online jewelry business, Matina.
Matina had its first fully commercial stall set up at a program called “Namaste Mehendi” at Labim Mall. Both confess that prior to that, they didn’t have a single clue about running a business or ways in which they could market their products. “We didn’t even have a banner for our stall, that’s how naive we were,” says Supriya.
The program, which was held in July 2019, taught them all the important tidbits about running a business which, according to them, has been helpful till date.
Moreover, the duo also kept a stall at a program called Big Fest—which featured over 130 similar startups—where they got to network and share their experiences with other budding entrepreneurs. “We were probably the youngest ones there and so a lot of people gave us really good advice about running a business. They were kind and helpful,” says Aakriti.
Both of them agree that Matina is a small-scale business and getting it started wasn’t very easy. According to Supriya, who is familiar with the handicraft business thanks to her mother, knowing where to source your raw material from is of utmost importance.
“If you buy something in retail, it’s almost twice as expensive than what you would get in wholesale. So, it was really difficult for us to look for a shop that wouldn’t trick us into buying things in unfair prices,” says Supriya adding that by hunting through alleys after alleys, they were finally able to find a few shops that were willing to sell them beads and metal rings at reasonable prices. They also bring in raw materials from India.
For the scrunchies, they have taken to recycling surplus fabrics from various boutiques around town or opt to use old sarees and school uniforms.
The entire jewelry-making process is a slow but intimate one. The duo sits down together and mak
es the jewelry one by one—by hand—which requires a lot of dedication and patience. They also decide on the colors, contrasts as well as the designs of the jewelry beforehand. “At our online shop we usually don’t have different designs but we don’t have many pieces of the same jewelry either as it’s just the two of us doing all of the work,” says Supriya.
Matina’s designs are often inspired by Pinterest and Instagram which they carefully comb through to find out what’s trendy and highly sought after. They both agree that currently, affordable and simple, casual jewelry is all the rage. “Keeping that in mind, we’ve kept our designs simple, minimalistic and, most importantly, economical,” says Aakriti. Most of Matina’s jewelry items are available under Rs 200 and a simple scrunchie costs Rs 50.
According to Supriya, simple jewelry that uses beads are mostly made and sold around tourist spots as it’s believed that Nepali people aren’t too much into it. “But in places like Thamel and Basantapur, simple, affordable jewelry tends to be expensive. We want to focus more on catering to young Nepalis as we know, from our own experiences, that recently young people have been drifting towards this style of jewelry,” says Supriya.
Aakriti and Supriya, though young, are determined to do anything it takes to get their business to flourish. Currently, they’ve managed to secure a deal with Re-vamp Nepal and so Matina will be responsible for the accessories for an upcoming fashion show.
What’s more, they are also experimenting with cement and other metals to come up with new affordable designs. They also hope to venture into home decor by making simple souvenier-type items that can improve the aesthetics of a space. According to their Instagram page (@matina.nepal), all their jewelry items are “made with love” and that’s what they want to continue doing—crafting pieces they love so that you too can love them.