Late last year, I started developing jewellery designs collaborating with Nabila, Rajesh and their artisans who make pote bead jewellery in Kathmandu. Made from tiny glass beads, the strand bracelets and ‘roll-on’ bracelets are worn by Nepalese women locally, so we wanted to develop our own small range for our AURA QUE customers.
Nabila has taken over the family business since her Fathers’ retirement, and they have been working with many of their artisans for over 25 years. They work with many women around the Kathmandu valley who make the pieces around their family commitments at home, in a similar way to how our knitwear is made. This gives the women flexibility in their working hours and they can work from the comfort of their own homes, usually working alongside other family members, friends and neighbours to coordinate small productions. Nabila and Rajesh coordinate the designs and orders and distribute the materials to the women, and collect the final pieces.
Here are Kabita, Rita and Bhagwati. Kabita is the team leader and is related to Rita and good friends with Bhagwati – they often work together in one of their houses, after they have dropped their children off at school. They have been making the tube bracelets and traditional Nepalese strand necklaces for many years, and usually can make between 4-7 bracelets during one day, depending on their family commitments.
Nabila knows these ladies well, and will visit them regularly to bring supplies, check productions and try new designs (such as the ones we have worked on for our 2019 collection!). Nabila says that Kabita has a strong positive attitude and divides up the work and takes care to finish the orders on time. Bhaqwati is good at understanding design complexities and can try new designs just by looking at picture references. And Rita is the fastest maker of all, completing a bracelet in 30-45 minutes! What a great team!
They have been very enthusiastic to work on new designs and colourways with me for our AURA QUE range. I wanted to work with some of their existing designs but also try new styles or applications such as the CHAUNNI Keychain which is a new way to use their tube bracelet design.
Nabila and Rajesh work with many small groups of women like this, to get their productions completed and agree a fair price for each item completed. They have to be accommodating around the women’s commitments and available time, which will be reduced during festival season, or if a family member is sick or a guest from their village has shown up, as is the way in Nepal!
This winter, we have worked with the Ethical Shop at the New Internationalist, to include some of our new bead range in their Christmas catalogue, which was a substantial amount of work alongside the AURA QUE production which they were excited to receive!
Nepalese women traditionally wear red and green beaded jewellery, to symbolise festivals and marriage. This colour combination reminds me of Christmas! So we have worked with a range of teal, gold, mint and peach tones we hope that you will like to wear for your Christmas party or New Year this year!