Online jewellers thrive in the pandemic
To maintain safety, the artisans are staying in the factory and working from there
The Business Standard reached out to three jewellery brands who have become popular by creating and selling unique jewellery pieces made from silver, brass or metal alloys.
6 yards story
As the name suggests, 6 yards story (length of a traditional sari) started its journey in 2012 by selling tant saree.
"I used to bring the saree from Sirajganj. During the photoshoot, models would wear some of my jewellery. Gradually, customers began to ask more about the jewellery than the saree," said Zerin Tasnim Khan, owner of the page.
A graduate of the Department of Architecture from Brac University, Zerin always had a passion for designs. "Sometimes I would just make my jewellery out of ordinary stuff like a key ring," she recalled her early days.
Currently, 6 yards story has a team of 18 people including the social media manager and delivery personnel.
Zerin said that the raw materials for the ornaments are mostly sourced from within the country.
They also entertain requests for custom made pieces of jewellery made in silver or gold.
"Working with gold requires utmost trust, but once I made a wedding set in gold and the bride was really happy," the designer said.
The brand's most popular items include designs which evoke nostalgia. "Our best-sellers are those which resemble antique pieces of jewellery, the ones our grandmothers and great grandmothers used to wear."
To maintain safety, the artisans are staying in the factory and working from there.
"We received a satisfactory response for Pahela Baishakh and Eid-ul-Fitr. It was not as good as last year, obviously, but sufficient to pay the workers' full salary. We are planning new designs for Eid-ul-Azha," Zerin added.
6 yards story is also a favourite among Bangladeshis living abroad, for whom the brand sells via Amazon.
The owner of "Glued Together", Mehnaz Ahmed is also an alumnus from the Department of Architecture at Brac University.
After graduating in 2014, she started working in an architect firm. Back then, Glued Together used to be a handicraft shop.
"My work required long hours and I only had Fridays to focus on Glued Together. Eventually, it became difficult to balance things and I chose to fully concentrate on my brand," she said.
From a young age, inspired by jewellery worn in the old days, Mehnaz would design her ornaments and craft them in silver. She designed her own and her sister-in-law's wedding jewellery.
"When it came to business, I realised silver was not a viable raw material and metals had higher melting points."
Glued Together designs are popular because they cater to customers of all ages. "We have mothers buying jewellery for daughters, we have daughters buying ornaments for mothers."
When the brand began its journey in 2015, Mehnaz had some difficulties in finding the right artisans. "Handcrafting jewellery is tough, 8-10 samples are made before the final product come into being. The artisans need to fully understand the design at first and also have a creative mind of their own."
Before the pandemic, Glued Together had 15-20 artisans. At the moment, only half of them are working.
"My workers are really helpful, every time they spot something new, they inform me and we discuss creating new designs all the time," Mehnaz said.
Glued Together showrooms in Banani and Baridhara are closed at the moment. For now, the brand is operating only online.
"Right before Pahela Baishakh and Eid-ul-Fitr, we had many orders. Besides, orders are already pouring in for Eid-ul-Azha. However, we are facing scarcity in raw materials and our designers are having to work from home," Mehnaz added.
Jewellery brand "Kahon" started its journey on 31 May 2017. Its three co-owners are Radia Binte Sharif, Aquib Zaman Chowdhury and Ayesha Yesmin.
In the owners' words, the trio thinks alike and has similar priorities, which is why the brand could become successful.
Kahon did not want to be just another jewellery brand but wanted to provide customers with exclusive designs which reflect our country's tradition and heritage.
The ornaments are usually collected from local collectors and suppliers. The designs are simple but likely to add a different touch to your ensemble.
They are yet to work on handcrafted jewellery but soon they would employ artisans of their own as business flourishes.
Kahon was receiving a moderate number of orders but since the pandemic, the business has slightly dropped. After remaining closed for almost one and a half months, the brand began to sell again.
The current situation has pushed back the owners' plans of opening a showroom and they are counting on good days in future. However, for upcoming Eid, customers should look out for new collections and offers.