The Indian jewellery designer who dazzled in New York & Paris
Poonam spent her childhood hopping across India as her dad used to get transferred every three years
Poonam spent her childhood hopping across India as her dad used to get transferred every three years. Growing up in different states developed an aesthetic that's appreciative of and deeply rooted in various Indian sub cultures.
Poonam established her brand 'Maalicious' after a traumatic incident that took place in her life.
She adds, "Maalicious was born as a pet project conceived at my home in New York while mending a broken heart caused by a miscarriage in my 36th week of pregnancy. As they say, adversity leads to opportunity, and delving into arts helped me during those dark times. I have always had a deep appreciation for Indian art forms and I wanted to work with women artisans. This combined with long standing desire to create and wear my own designs lead me to everything Maalicious is today."
She partnered with differently-abled students studying jewelry in Mysore, India, on her visit to India a few weeks later. She eventually worked with various women artisans to integrate various Indian art forms into our jewelry.
"A lot of research, learning, sweat and blood later, we've grown into what Maalicious is today. We have had some amazing moments in the last few years including being featured in British Vogue, Harper's BAZAAR Thailand and more. We have showcased our jewelry in New York fashion week and Paris fashion week in 2020," shares Poonam.
Having immense appreciation for Indian handicrafts, she always dreamt of making products using dwindling art forms but chic enough to cater to the urban crowd.
Poonams goal for Maalicious is two-fold; one to provide a platform for women artisans in India and secondly to help rejuvenate traditional arts. She wants to innovate and create quintessential jewelry that takes Indian workmanship with a touch of urban flair.
Poonam says, "We support traditional arts, and each of our pieces have a story to tell. Our jewelry is designed in NYC, and is 22k gold plated and handmade. We strive to ensure that our materials are responsibly sourced and some of our earrings are even made of sustainable materials like clay, wood, silk, etc. As a women-only run firm, we stand in solidarity with skilled and marginalized women."
For Poonam, the fashion weeks was the highlight of their journey. Sharing about the same she said that It was a great feeling to have her designs appreciated by the people in the industry. The growth, both as a designer and as a brand, while preparing for the weeks was tremendous for her. All the pieces of the brand are designed in New York by her and are further made by women artisans across India.
She adds, "We have around 6 women artisans we work on a regular basis in India and we have collaborated with a few others in Italy and Ukraine. The kind of work and amount depends a lot of the kind of work they do."
The celebrities that collaborated with 'Maalicious' in America has been Radhi Shetty. In India Divya Khosla Kumar that wore their jewelry recently.
The 'Amrita Shergill' design
Most of their pieces tell a story from India's glorious past. Amrita Sher-Gil is a tribute to the famous Indian painter. She is known as the pioneer of modern Indian art. Often known as "India's Frida Kahlo" she painted many self-portraits and captured the daily lives of Indian women in the 1930s, often revealing a sense of their loneliness. She wanted to bring out these amazing stories through my pieces.
Their goal is to give their customers beautiful, lasting jewelry while holding the values of quality, labor rights and sustainability paramount.
"We are unique in our designs and in the way we give them life. Everything is handmade and so imperfect but that's what makes them unique. The uniqueness also comes from our need to innovate in this space. For instance, we have earrings that are made of terra cotta clay and then hand painted like our Vintage earrings. We also have customizable earrings like our Alice earrings which can be personalized with a picture from our customer," adds Poonam.
Everything was a challenge for Poonam as she did not belong from a fashion industry.
"Operations and inventory were quite a challenge since I was working out of New York and the artisans were in India. Being visible is always difficult when you are just starting out. Initial sales came mainly from friends and family. I am immensely grateful for all the people that have helped me through this journey, we still have a long way to go and many things to improve," concludes Poonam.